Logo creation is a difficult task. Part of that difficulty is knowing when it’s ready for the world to see. You can tweak a logo until the end of time but at some point it needs to be done. At that point, your logo needs to have met certain requirements on a logo design checklist before you can be ready to showcase it.
When designing a logo, there are really four main things you want it to be: Appropriate, distinctive, memorable, and simple. Additionally, you also want it to be free of any design faux pas, and if there is any typography, it should be flawless.
Having a logo design checklist to refer to can be a big help when you’re figuring out if a logo is ready to see the world or not. It’s helpful in both the ideation stage and the polishing stage. Here is the logo design checklist that I use for my work, and why each item is crucial for finalizing a logo.
This is a big one when it comes to logo design. Is the logo appropriate for the brand and target audience you’re designing it for? To answer this, you need to be very familiar with the brand. Check their socials, know their history, the brand perception, etc.
Familiarizing yourself with the brand is something you should do before you ever start a logo design project. This will really help you to make sure that the chosen typefaces, colours, and icons/symbols are appropriate for the brand itself.
Colours and typefaces often have their own personality that you’ll want to match to the brand. For example, the colour red is often associated with danger, courage, strength, or power. Using red might work well for a marketing or law firm, but maybe not for a florist or health food store.
Let’s use a visual example. Here’s a logo design that uses purple text with a sunflower icon. Maybe this particular law firm wants to be perceived as friendly and approachable, but there’s likely a better way to do that. The purple text and sunflower element, however, work well for a florist shop.
It’s also worthwhile to be familiar with the brand’s competition to ensure your logo and visual branding does not use similar colours, imagery, or fonts as them to avoid confusion. Different brands need to be distinct among their competition, even though they operate in the same industry.
No logo design checklist is complete without mentioning simplicity. Logo design, at its core, is about simplification. Logo designs need to be beautifully simple. That being said, you also need to know not to take this too far. A logo should be simple enough to redraw using chalk on pavement, but not so simple that it loses all originality and distinction.
For example, the logo on the left uses a very simple letter C for its icon, but there is nothing unique or interesting about it. The C has been simplified into something very basic and entirely unoriginal. The logo on the right, however, is much more interesting and has some personality to it, without being overly complex.
Logo Faux Pas
Another important thing on the logo design checklist is figuring out if your logo is committing any design crimes. These are things like:
- Using too much gradient
- Awkward colour combinations
- Having poor balance
- Bad kerning
- Having legibility issues
- Infringing on a copyright
- Using logo cliches
- Relying too heavily on colour for stability or legibility
There are other logo faux pas you could make here, which is why it’s useful to get feedback from another designer to see if they can spot anything that’s off.
The example on the left (below) shows a poor colour combination that is hard on the eyes. It also has inconsistent kerning and poor symmetrical balance. On the right, these issues have been fixed and the logo is much easier on the eyes. It is much more professional looking.
Also, remember to check out how a logo or icon looks when rotated or upside down. An icon or word could look completely inappropriate if on an alternate angle, and it matters because logos are looked at from alternate angles all the time in print. A famous example of this can be seen here in the OGC logo.
If there’s type in or with your logo, does it work well with the other visuals? Does the type work for the brand? Is it legible? Also, are you using a typeface you have rights to? Not all typefaces are free for commercial use so you need to ensure the one you’re using is, or that you’ve purchased it.
If you’re using more than one font in your logo you want to make sure the two fonts pair well together. Some fonts work well with others, some don’t. A good tip is to never use two typefaces that are too similar, like Baskerville and Playfair Display. Instead, use a sans-serif font with a serif one, or use a single typeface with two distinct font weights, like a regular weight mixed with a bold or black weight, or all caps.
In the example below, the logo on the left is using two serif typefaces, Playfair Display Regular (top) and Baskerville Old Face Regular. This font pairing is awkward because the letterforms are quite similar but still distinct on their own. The logo on the right works much better and uses Playfair Display Bold (top) and Gill Sans MT, providing sufficient distinction between the two fonts.
The memorability of a logo often goes back to its simplicity and uniqueness. Is your logo memorable? Does it stick in your head after seeing it only a few times? If not, why is that? Can you show it to someone for a moment then ask them to redraw it without the logo in front of them?
The example logo on the left here is clean but very unoriginal. There is nothing in this logo that you would consider to be memorable when asking someone to recall it later, aside from maybe the colours and that it’s in a box. The example on the right won’t win any awards for originality either, but it is much more memorable than the left example thanks to its unique shape.
This one is important because logos often need to be shrunk, blown up, and scattered across digital and print mediums. A logo should be able to be reproduced small in newsprint in black and white and in full colour on the side of a skyscraper. It should work on dark colours or light colours, either as is or have alternate versions for these purposes.
For the most part, making a logo versatile simply means designing a logo using vector software, avoiding thin lines and complex forms, and creating a few versions for different purposes. Designers often provide clients with an assortment of logo variations they can use for different purposes for things like letterheads, t-shirts, app icons, and more.
The example below shows a logo that uses a very thin typeface that almost disappears when shrunk, versus a much bolder logo that still shows up well when small. Both logos have reversed versions as well, which show you again how well the logo on the right preforms better than the one on the left.
The Logo Design Checklist – In Conclusion
Remember, a logo is not trying to tell a whole story. Just focus on it being appropriate for the brand, unique, and simple, and you should be good to go.
As Sagi Haviv says, a “logo is not communication; it is identification. The logo is the period at the end of a sentence; it it not the sentence itself. The logo is meant to identity you strongly and clearly, and the less it says, the better.”
I’ve posted about my logo design process before, so if you’re curious, check it out here.
Are there other important things that should be on this logo design checklist that I haven’t included? What would your perfect logo design checklist look like? Let me know in the comments 🙂
If you want to learn more about logo design and creating a visual brand, check out Creating a Brand Identity: A Guide for Designers by Catharine Slade-Brooking. I just recently got this book and I wish I had sooner. It details every step of the logo process and guides you through creating a visual brand strategy.
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