Top 5 Most Common Logo Design Mistakes!

We all make mistakes! No matter who we are or how “qualified” we are we all make mistakes! I’ve made a lot of mistakes, not only in my own personal life but in my career as well. This post is all about common logo design mistakes, prepare to be nodding your head in agreement and shrieking in embarrassment. Here are five of the most common logo design mistakes!

Using Too Many Fonts

When I’m commissioned to design a logotype, I don’t use fonts as the main design, I always letter my own, this way I don’t have to licence a font — it’s also unique to the client. If you’re not careful, using fonts can be the downfall of your logo design career. Clients want something bespoke in my experience.

When designers start out, it’s normal that we aren’t as good as we’re going to be in a few years down the line. It’s normal to not understand a lot of the information that’s out their in the profession, but what I don’t want to see as “normal” is the idea of using lots of different, unrelated fonts in one piece of work or logotype design.

There’s a rule that I’ve heard a couple times within the design community,

“Never use more than three fonts within one specific piece of work.”

— Unknown

This means that you’re supposed to use the font more than once, and this is okay! I think a lot of (mainly new) designers believe that they have to saturate their work with all types of interesting fonts. I’ve got some good news for you! You don’t! The best practice is to pick three fonts that go well together within your composition and use them. This way, the design will generally look a lot cleaner and more effective. Remember; logos are more about the functionality rather than the aesthetics.

Following Design Trends

I think a lot of people will be surprised that I’ve put this as a top mistake. I think a lot of people think that design trends are what we should be following as designers. And to some degree they’re right, we should be searching and being aware of the current design trends. But with this, comes a lot of copying of others work and the lack of “timelessness” within their work.

A lesson that I’ve had to learn within logo design is to not follow these trends. Not because we want to be pretentious or original, but because we want our logo designs to be timeless. A lot of us think that if we don’t follow the trend with our work, then clients will either not like the logo design, or the audience won’t perceive our work as relevant anymore.

This is far from the truth, I think one of the biggest downfalls within logo designs these past couple of years is that more people than ever are following the trend and making designs that aren’t timeless. Timeless is defined as: not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion.

Being timeless isn’t about being irrelevant and pretentious, it’s about making something that can stand the test of time. It’s about creating something that the world looks to as relevant in all times of life. The best example of this type of work is the BBC logo. The BBC logo has obviously been changed. But the last change of the logo was in the year 2,000. This logo design change wasn’t a huge change — but it lasts. What I’m trying to say is that the BBC logo has been changed very little because of the timelessness of the design itself.

Being Too Complicated

Another top mistake within logo design is creating logos that are just to complicated. I think we all fall into the trap of complicating their work, but us logo designers fall into this trap very easily. This is probably one of personal top mistakes when designing logos. I love the vintage and rustic logos, but sometimes I get carried away and make them really complicated just to add more aesthetics into the design. I always find myself reminding myself that I have to be functional not just make the whole thing look really nice.

I always ask myself these questions:

  1. Is it easily readable?
  2. Can you read it / identify it when it’s scaled really small
  3. Will you need incredible good vision to understand what it’s conveying?

These questions help me identify where I’m going wrong. Sometimes us designers just have to strip it back, especially us designers that love detail within their topography or ornaments.

Using Too Many Effects And Colours

I don’t really have much to say about this because it’s quite obvious for the get go. When designing a logo, the effects and colours shouldn’t be added to make the design look nicer, it should be because of the functionality of the design. Effects and colours are to have a purpose within logo design, otherwise all you’ve created is something nice to look at.

When designing logos, I always start with paper and pencil, I don’t look at colour unless it’s something vital to the design. Starting with pencil and paper really help me create the composition of the logo design, and evolve from there. If I start playing around with colour, I’ll definitely become distracted and start designing for the aesthetics.

Colour is normally the last thing I work on within a logo design. The layout and the shape of the logo is more important to figure out first when designing logos, colours are normally the end part of the process before finalising the logo design. This way I know that what I’m creating is functional no matter what colour it’s printed on, or how much it’s being scaled on a billboard.

Distorting Fonts

I don’t think many people reading this blog post would really feel convicted about committing this sin, but it’s something that happens all to often. People distorting fonts… I think it’s so easy to “bash” on new designers that distort fonts, but I want to educate rather than just saying it’s wrong.

When designing logos or anything graphic design based, a lot of new people won’t understand how typography works, I think this is because a lack of awareness. Well, here’s the be all and end all of this: do not whatever you do in your entire life distort fonts.

Whatever effect you’re trying to accomplish, it can be accomplished in a way where you don’t have to distort your fonts! Distorting fonts don’t look nice because of the way the fonts are made, they are made to fit. If you’re having problems with this, go ahead onto my Youtube channel where you can learn more about you can do with your typography within your work without distorting your fonts.

Conclusion

I hope you found this post enlightening! I’ve been wanting to write and make a video about this for a while now to educate some newer and upcoming designers within the community. Also remember that none of these mistakes are to be taken personally, they’re mere observations made by my own personal opinions, and whether you agree with them or not I hope you got something out of them!

Will Paterson

Originally published at www.williampatersondesign.com on October 21, 2015.