How to Make a Logo the MWI Way Step 2: Development - Just Say No

February 05 2016

‚ÄčOk, before we go any further, we have to talk to you about something very important. We try to be positive, but some issues are too important to avoid. 

Don't. Use. Clipart. 

Just in case you need a refreshder on what exactly clipart is, here's a basic definition: any image that has already been made and can be adopted by anyone. 

Clipart is what you will find installed in your computer's images library, provided for free or a low cost online, and through many logo generators and "designers."

Clipart is what many people use when they think their logo doesn't really matter, it's just an accepted practice. 

Clipart is the leisure suit of the design world. 

But there must be times when clipart is ok. Right? 

Fine. I'll admit it. Sometimes clipart is acceptable, but only if:

  • You want your audience to think you are incompetent. 
  • You want your audience to think you are generic.
  • You want your audience to think you do not value quality. 

It's a harsh reality. 

I'm sure you've used clipart numerous times. You're fine. Everyone forgives you. But clipart should never be your best. 

What's wrong with clipart? For one, it's not you. Even if you really like the anchor/tree/swirl/cupcake. Even if you sell anchors/trees/swirls?/cupcakes. Clipart isn't yours. It's everybody's. 

Secondly, clipart makes everything look dated and amateur

For instance, the wrap-around ellipse, ubiquitous in the Dot-com era, depicted speed and globalization and technology and, ironically, cutting edge. But by the mid-2000's the once-relevant dynamic crescent symbolized crushed hopes, short sightedness, narrow vision, and was generally obsolete. 

You can see that right? Not everyone can. In 2008 Capital One made a big one when they added a swoosh (no, not like the Nike swoosh). They still receive criticism for their now eight year old logo, but they haven't changed it. Maybe they're hoping to make it theirs over time.  

Yes, even the big boys get it wrong sometimes. But you don't have to. 

If you're gonna DIY this logo thing, make your own art. But even then, be careful of trends that make your company look dated...or will in just a couple of years. 

Unless you are familiar with the very latest in logo design, chances are your ideas are based on seeing that design over and over in logos, commercials, etc. Are you picturing lowercase letters like adidas, citi(bank), and macy's? Monogram like Facebook or GE? Circle/globe with wavy lines like AT&T or Pepsi?

These are essential design elements of great logos, but it doesn't mean they are right for you. We learn from the best, but not to copy it. 

Even bringing elements from the past into our design to instill nostalgia can be risky. Trends die and revive centuries later, but it's more like zombification than rebirth. Eventually, it'll start to stink and have to go down again. 

Familiarize yourself with past and current design trends. Study the greats and see what makes them so great. Then make something new. Or do something wildly creative with something old. 

And make it yours. A logo must fit your brand, not the other way around.

Next time we'll get into the brass tacks, so you have a couple weeks to do some research and generate ideas that don't fall into the danger zone of clipart.