Designing a logo ain't easy. It's a tedious process getting to that ultimate goal: a beautiful and practical logo that represents who you are and what you do. It requires a lot of research, forethought, and expertise (which is why we can pretty much guarantee outsourcing this to a virtual assistant or your cousin Becky who makes cute mugs isn't going to turn out well). Even a skilled designer can overlook important steps or stumble.
Since embarking on my brand design career, I've had some learning moments of my own along the way, so I'll share some common pitfalls and how to avoid them...
1) Relying solely on the "All-in-One"
A good logo is future-proof and you can ensure this by planning for all use cases. Only having one version of your logo, usually the "all-in-one" (having icon and wordmark used as one) is a common mistake - first, let's clarify the terminology here...
Here, we have a Logo System. It has 3 parts.
1. Logomark or Icon
3. Combination Mark or "All-in-One" *
These separate parts can be used alone or in combination with one another, depending on the application. For the sake of flexibility, most businesses opt to have all 3 at their disposal. Ask your designer if they can provide these. If they're worth their salt (and you're paying them what they're worth), they'll say HECK yes!
2) Raster Images
Vector images (think SVG, EPS, or PDF) are made up of mathematically precise points that can be scaled up or down. Raster images are pixel-based so they can't be scaled up without getting pixelated and blurry (big yikes).
Make sure your logo is designed in a vector-based program like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer, not Photoshop (raster-based).
Your designer, if you've got one, should provide you with a lovely vector file format that contains your designs in addition to your standard PNG format.
3) Copy Cat Designs
Looking too similar to competitors will instantly sabotage any marketing efforts. You're pretty much guaranteeing you'll blend into the background. Outright plagiarism, of course, is illegal. Logos built from clipart are wrong on many levels (especially without proper licensing). However, it's worth mentioning that even if you're not deliberately stealing a design and you have a quality designer who sketches from their own imagination, there are very few ideas that haven't already been done by someone else so you may run across similarities in the world.
In the world of design, there are themes and even symbols that are repeated in one form or another...especially with simple shapes.
Even in the realm of larger brands, there are striking similarities.
The key to keeping your logo original is in the details. Make sure it has a very distinctive, unique brand world in which to live. This is what "branding" is all about (see my Branding 101 post). Make double sure there aren't any too similar within your industry. Take a moment to look at your competitors for any significant red flags. A good designer will do a cross check for you.
4) Too Trendy
No more bounce script, please.
But really, it's one of the many trends that catch the Pinterest world by storm and while I, too, enjoy a fun handwritten font and/or trendy geometric shape as an accompanying graphic element, it's best to avoid these in your actual logo.
Like I said before, a good logo is future-proof. It can stand the test of time, or at the very least, be easily evolved. If the key characteristics of your logo are very trend-forward, you're setting your brand up to being irrelevant in as little as 2 years. Sad tear!
That's not to say trends shouldn't be explored or considered. The annual Trend Report compiled by Logo Lounge is a favorite resource of mine. It showcases and analyzes the major trends happening in the logo design world for each year.
That's all for now. There are plenty more to cover, but those will have to marinate for a bit. Any questions? Leave a comment!