​How to Make a Logo the MWI Way Step 2: Development - Artistry

February 10 2016

You've got ideas now, right? At least something basic that wasn't what you were thinking before you started reading this series. Check, Something that has morphed over time, research, consideration for adaptability, and eliminating trends and clipart,. Right? 

Ok, so let's talk about how to make that idea into art. 

I assume you have at least a base knowledge in art, so I won't conduct a 101 course. I will, however, share with you some tips for logo design when it comes to the foundational art elements: line, shape and form, color, value, and texture. 

Line

The more the lines on a logo, the more difficult it is to adapt the logo for multiple formats. However, variations in line can be a magical way to show movement, depth and even emotion without complicating the image. 

AT&T's globe is simply a circle with series of lines. The variation in those lines--length, width, curvature--give the circle dimension and create movement. It's a globe, but it isn't just a globe. AT&T gives you the ability to reach around to the other side of the world.

Shape and Form

The world is made of shapes, so naturally shape helps the customer relate one object to another. Associations can be fantastic for syncing an identity...or disastrous. 

Thoroughly investigate all connections the target audience may have with the shape. Before solidifying your logo, test any design ideas on those people who take everything the wrong way (we all know those people, am I right?). 

Pepsi's shortest lived logo from 2006-2008 seems to give the iconic "bottlecap" punch, but critics saw an obese cartoon man. Pepsi and obesity do not go together...right? 

Color

Color matters (see this cool slide show http://goo.gl/hygSTp). But color must be chosen carefully. 

A logo should be adaptable. For a compact image, fewer colors are more effective. And for an image that needs to be converted for two-tone, one-tone and grayscale printing, the fewer colors the better. 

Brush up on color theory, the psychology of color, cultural significance of color and current logo color trends. Only then can you ignore all that and do something out of the ordinary. But never, NEVER because it's your favorite color. 

Using only one color has benefits beyond adaptability. Facebook literally created Pantone color "social butterfly blue." Target, on the other hand, can only be red, because targets are red. But both own their color. 

On the other hand, NBC, Google, Microsoft, and Ebay, have multi-colored logos. Even side by side, they seem to be the exact same palette. 

And here's the most important concept: color is secondary to design.Your logo should be recognizable without color. NBC, Google, Microsoft and Ebay are fresh and exciting in full color, but we can still tell who they are in black and white, 

Value

Even if you use bright, contrasting color in a full-color version, similar values will lose impact in a grayscale or two tone adaptation. 

Remax's logo, for instance, features several angled lines that, in full color, stand apart from one another. But when translated to grayscale or black and white, the eye is attacked by a lot of sharp angled lines. 

If you are going to use more than one color, make sure the tones differ enough for grayscale, or is at least as attractive and recognizable if printed in black. 

Texture

Keep in mind texture from a visual art perspective isn't the way it feels, but the way it looks like it feels. 

Currently, flat logos are trending, and logos with depth and texture often look dated. This is an example of form following function. Flat logos are ideal for adapting to multimedia, social media, and responsive websites. 

Many companies will have their designers also create fancier logos with textural and three-dimensional qualities to use in high-def and large formats. Unless you have an expert in graphic design, though, we recommend sticking to adaptable textures. 

Play with the elements in art, even the bad ones. Sometimes you get great ideas by breaking the rules. But make sure it works before taking the jump. 

Next time I'll talk about the importance of text in developing logos.