IAA | 7 Cardinal Rules for Logo Design
Rules of logo design
Razvan Radulescu, IAA Young Professionals Romania

Seven Cardinal Rules for Logo Design

Seven rules (learned from both books and practice) that will help you in brainstorming and creation phase, but especially when you have to convince and explain to the client why a logo is right for his business. Or not. 

It identifies & doesn’t describe

The most successful logos are the ones that tell you what the brand is, not what it does. It's like a name. I know your name is John, but that doesn't tell me if you're a hard working or a lazy guy. This is usually difficult because most customers want an "explicit" logo that says something about the product, service or activity. To clear this up, we can give the Apple example: if the initial logo was an illustration of a computer, not only should it have been redrawn multiple times because the shape would not have reflected the technology changes, but would also act like an obstacle when the company expanded towards the production of phones an online services such as iTunes. 

It doesn’t solve all problems

The logo exists to strengthen a brand & to convey the company values. If the company has distribution or staff problems, a new logo cannot solve these problems. When your product or service has an essential problem, it will not help if you change its image. Branding is not just about the logo! 

Must be clear and strong

It is mandatory for a logo to be easily identifiable - from far away! Quiet and discreet logos, pastel colored, which use thin fonts, will almost never survive in a great turmoil, filled to the brim with powerful, aggressive and vibrant logos of the competition. 

It must be easy to remember 

One of the ways to achieve this effect is to have the logo ask a question. No, without using words and question marks. There must be questions such as: Why does a letter have different color or why is it larger? Why is the apple bitten? The more time a consumer spends looking at the logo, trying to solve a dilemma, the more memorable the logo will be. Another method is to give the logo two meanings. It may be read in two ways or contain a relevant element integrated in the design (eg the arrow integrated into the FedEx logo). 

It should fit in a variety of environments

Long ago, logos were intended primarily for the print industry. Today they have to be suitable for the screen, website, mobile and different size applications- this while also continue to be used on business cards and in publications. It must be checked that the details look good on a pixelated panel and that the various elements remain harmonious when positioned on a tower block billboard.

It‘s not an illustration 

We return to the first rule and to the discussion related to identifying VS description. But now we should focus on the sustainability of the logo over time. A representative graphic sign, whether or not associated with the company name will withstand much better over time than an actual product illustration (note that over time, the graphic signs can be used successfully without the company name, eg Nike Swwosh). A lot of time and resources will be invested in promoting the logo,and customers will learn to recognize its name, products and quality by associating it with it. For this reason, every rebranding, be it image-only, costs more than the designer's research & fee. 

It is a part of visual identity  

The logo can be seen as the flagship of a brand, but visual identity is much more. It's easy to get stuck on a logo design and spend a lot of time working on it. But a logo will never exist outside of a context. Always think about the visual identity system and eventually create it at the same time with the logo! The visual identity manual ensures the longevity of a logo. Of course, once you know all the rules, the only thing left to do is to learn how to break them!

The article was written by Razvan Radulescu, member of IAA Young Professionals Romania. 


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