It's been five weeks since I launched my Free Visual Brand Assessments, and I've learned a lot while helping other businesses with their brands. From that knowledge, I've made a list of the seven most common logo mistakes I've come across in the hopes that you'll be able to avoid them in the creation of your logo and brand.
1. It feels separate from the rest of your brand
This one is easy to do, if you design your logo first, before you really refine your goals and target audience. As you continue to focus your brand, and choose colors, fonts, and photography, it's easy for your brand to drift away from the style and mood of your logo. That's why, when designing a logo for my clients, after nailing down the goals and audience of the brand, I design the logo, color palette, and font selections as a group, to insure they work together cohesively.
2. It's too detailed
It doesn't matter if your logo is beautiful and intricate if you can't tell what it is on a business card. Your logo should be easily readable at 1 inch tall - if it's not, your logo is too detailed.
Another way of adding too much detail to your logo is adding your tagline, credentials, or extraneous information to your logo design. There are times you may want to add those in a design that includes that information, but your standard logo doesn't need that. Also, you don't need a background in your main logo. You can use it on a background when you choose, but make sure you have a logo that works without a background.
3. it's too trendy
If it's trendy now, it will be outdated soon. You'll also blend in with all of the other people who choose a trendy logo. Your business deserves more than to blend in now and become obsolete later.
Current trends in 2016: handwritten/cursive fonts, watercolor illustrations, floral illustrations
4. It uses clip art
Even if it's free for commercial use, incorporating clip art into your logo isn't a great idea. Assuming it's actually well-designed clip art (which is hard to find), you still won't be able to copyright your logo because the design wasn't created by you.
An alternative to this is finding a free for commercial use clip art, and using it for a starting point, and editing it so that it's unique from the original design you downloaded. I also occasionally use free commercial icons as inspiration for logo icons (but I never use an unedited icon).
5. It doesn't work in grayscale
This may seem oddly specific, but it's actually a very important design element to check, and very easy to overlook. You may never plan to print any of your brand material in black and white, but if your clients/customers are receiving anything electronically that they may want to print out (such invoices, e-books, even just emails), there's a good chance they'll print it in grayscale. If your logo looks like a gray blob in grayscale, that's not going to leave a great impression.
6. It's too obvious
If you run a landscaping company, you do not have to have a tree as your icon. People know what landscaping is, so you're using an opportunity to communicate with your audience (your logo's icon) to tell them something they already know, and something that is not unique to your landscaping company.
You don't have to be super metaphoric with your logo design, but try to showcase what makes your business unique, not simply what it does.
7. It doesn't exist
I thought this was too obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious. Your business needs a logo! If you have a website, and just have basic typography, it looks like you're using a template, not something custom designed for you business. In short, it looks like your business is still a work in progress.
What about you?
Are you guilty of any of these logo crimes? Or maybe you feel there's a logo crime that should be included in this list. Let me know!