A detailed look at what makes a great logo and tips for determining if your logo needs a refresh.
Below are five quick questions to test your logo! Read on and determine if your logo passes the test, or if it could use a refresh. Tally your points to see how your logo stacks up!
1) Is Your Logo Dated?
Just like boldly painted red dining rooms of the early 2000s, green shag carpet of the 70s, or big hair and parachute pants of the 80s, graphics and typeface fonts tend to follow trends. Here are a few quick steps to test your logo's timelessness. Check your logo: Below are three examples (A, B, and C) to help determine if your logo is dated.
HOW TO TELL:
A) Test your Typeface: Sometimes logo designs feature purposefully retro fonts or typefaces. 60's hippie bubble fonts are a perfect example of this. However, there are some that have become so recognizable and popular that it can make your logo look less unique. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
- Thick Nordic Sans Serifs: Similar to Sentiga - Distressed Decorative: Similar to Monthoers Most of these are excellent well designed typefaces, they have just become too popular or not unique enough on their own. With added elements or imaginative logotype design, they could still make a wonderful bespoke unique logo. However, if your business name is just typed out in these fonts, without any added pizzaz - the ability to stand out is lacking. Check your logo: Does it have a trendy font? If yes, does it have a unique element that helps set the trendy font apart, or is it following the crowd?
B) Determine Dimensions: Observe the lines of your logo. Is it too detailed? Could it be simplified? Simplicity and minimalism are at the forefront of the design world. For several years now, logo design and especially user interface design, have moved away from skeuomorphic styles (graphics that imitate realistic objects, see the pause button designs in Figure 2 above). The most popular graphics are flat two dimensional shapes. Currently, that has evolved even further toward material design, with the latest being an interface style called neumorphism. This brings in elements of three dimensonal design, without looking realistic. Even though 3D elements are reappearing, it's still safe to say design is still moving away from 3D faux metal and overly detailed features. Sketched style logos are still popular, but are moving in a flat illustrated direction. Check your logo: User Interface design also influences logo design, so check the dimension of your logo does it have a lot of drop shadows? If so it might be time to revisit and simplify the style of your logo icons.
C) Fad or Fab: Does your logo contain any trendy elements? Below are two examples of trendy fads. Example 1: Arrows A classic logo design element of the 2010s, was the arrow, specifically criss-crossed arrows. The criss-cross concept is still commonly used for logos and I believe it is here to stay (especially considering royal family crests, higher education institutions, are known to feature quadrants or criss-crossed elements in their logos some of which are centuries old!). However, arrows haven't lasted the test of time. They were a hip style element that provided a rustic feature to logos in the early 2010s, and they have run their course. Check your logo: If your logo features arrows, it might be time to consider an update. Even a slight change of replacing the arrows with simple lines, can make your logo modern and fresh.
Example 2: Distressed Slab Text Another logo design feature to keep an eye out for is, distressed texture, specifically slab fonts. In fact, there are many designers who recommend steering clear of any distressed font because of it's lack of authenticity and displeasing uniformity of texture. In most prefabricated fonts, the distressed texture is copied and repeated on each letter - therefore creating an unrealistic effect (Figure 4). This especially looks unattractive with text that includes repetitive letters, seen in the example above with the word "business." Check your logo: It may be time for an update if you have both a slab font and distressed texture.
Example 3: Gold Text and Flowers A very trendy combination is gold or metallic lettering, especially combined with florals. Above, Figure 5 even combines an arrow, capitalizing on several trends at once. This style has become a staple in prefabricated logo templates and is a sure indicator of a "box cake mix logo": an easy template with simple instructions that is semi-customizable, it turns out really well but doesn't quite have that special made-from-scratch taste. Check your logo: Is it ready made or custom (custom = A+)? Does it have trendy metallic letters or arrows (metallic letters, arrows, or both = needs TLC)?
Yes, my logo has trendy or dated features like arrows. +0 points
No, my logo does not have trendy or dated features. +1 point
2) Is Your Logo Legible?
Are the typefaces and fonts used readable or are they too swirly? Double check that your sans-serif text is large enough to read from a distance. Make sure your script and cursive text is clear and easy to decipher. Look below at Figure 6, and notice the "before" image displays a script font that is in a light color and overlaps itself many times - making it a tad tricky to read. Logotype needs to be effortless. A well chosen typeface or font appears aesthetically pleasing to its audience, without drawing too much attention or requiring extra concentration. Check your logo: have a friend, relative, or unbiased third party take a look at your logo, do they have a hard time understanding it?
Yes, it's easy to read and clear to understand. +1 point
No, it's light colored, or hard to read, or the icon is confusing. +0 points
3) Is Your Logo Versatile?
Can you use your logo on a billboard and a social media post? It's common for a design to only work specifically for one form of application. A timeless well built logo can work in multiple cross-platform scenarios. Check your logo: Make sure that your logo is visually clear and identifiable at any scale. Do a quick test, place your logo online and also print it out as large as you can on a 8.5x11" paper, is it still clear in both places (Clear = A+)? Or is it pixelated and blurry (Blurry = Needs TLC)?
Yes, it's clear and works well on many platforms. +1 point
No, it's blurry. +0 points
4) Does Your Logo Standout In Your Field?
Take a look at your field's competitors, how does your logo look? Can you easily differentiate the designs, or are they very similar in style? If it's too close to call, then your customers and clients will not see a difference between your brands. With a quick internet search of landscape logos, it's fairly clear, in Figure 7, these logos have a lot of similar elements. When your logo has too much visual similarity to other businesses in the same field, your brand blends in. For example, if a client is recommending your services to a friend, it helps them when describing your name or business, if they can remember a clear visual identifier, such as a distinct font or color. Check your logo: The goal is for your brand to be recognizable and memorable; visually leaving a lasting impression that your customers will easily be able to identify. Do you have clear brand colors, is your logo icon modern? These are questions that can help determine if your logo is memorable and recognizable.
Yes, it's unique and memorable. +1 point
No, it's not. +0 points
5) Do you love it?
You have to see it everyday and use it all the time. The most important factor is that you really enjoy your logo. It represents your business, services, product, brand and essentially you! Check your logo: Make sure at the end of the day you're happy with how it looks and how it makes you feel. How do you feel about your logo?
Yes, I love my logo! +1 point
No, I'm not loving my logo. +0 points
How did you do?
Does your logo score 4/5 or even better 5/5? Congratulations, your logo sounds like it's in nice shape!
Still not sure if your logo passed? Free consultation is on me! Send me an email with your current logo and I will help you assess wether an update would be a step in the right direction.
Lead Designer + Owner
Live Edge Graphic Design