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Logos A Gogo? Make it Easier

I was recently handed a page with seven logo choices and asked to choose my favorite. Before I answered, I had a number of questions. Choosing an attractive logo is important, but there are other factors that are just as important. I’ll walk you through my thought process, so you can apply the same logic when considering a new logo.

Logos A Gogo? Make it Easier

The Devil Is in the Detail When You Are Creating and Choosing the Best Logo

By Foster D. Coburn III, CorelDRAW Unleashed

(Originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Insights.)

I was recently handed a page with seven logo choices and asked to choose my favorite. Before I answered, I had a number of questions. Choosing an attractive logo is important, but there are other factors that are just as important. I’ll walk you through my thought process, so you can apply the same logic when considering a new logo.

FIGURE 1: The seven logos from which I was to choose a favorite.

The Logo Choices

My office manager designed seven logos (FIGURE 1) for a big national event of her dog club and was curious which of the choices I liked the best. There is no right or wrong answer; it was simply my preference. Your preference may be completely different and that’s just fine. Of course part of my decision came based on how the logo would be used. Before I go over some of the criteria I used in selecting my favorite, look at Figure 1 to see all seven of the choices presented to me.

The logo the organization will select to use is unknown at the time of this writing. It may very well be different from my selection. I wouldn’t be surprised if it somehow mixed parts of multiple logos or at least a modification of one of the options.

Long ago a designer friend, Jeff Harrison, told me that there were three tests a logo must pass.

  1. It must go through a fax machine and be readable
  2. It must be able to be cut out of vinyl
  3. It must be able to be embroidered on garments

Due to the colors and the details, many of the seven options provided would likely fail at least one of the tests. There are many other uses that exist today, and so my question to the logo designer was about the different ways the logo would actually be used.

Logo Usage

I don’t know about your office, but I rarely get a legitimate fax, even once a month. Worrying about how a logo goes through a fax machine isn’t as important as it was in the past. We’ve also seen the rise of print-and-cut vinyl, so even full-color logos can be printed and cut out very well. That leaves only the third criterion in place for this logo—and there was indeed a strong possibility embroidery would be involved.

As I was pondering the choices, I asked about embroidery. One possibility was to have embroidered patches created. Three of the options are quite detailed, and I was concerned about using them for embroidery. It made me remember when the National Football League modified their logo in 2008 to reduce the number of stars from 25 to 8 because it was hard to reliably reproduce so many stars in some types of output.

FIGURE 4: Mock-ups of T-shirts with each of the logos.

One of the main uses for this logo would be on T-shirts, and mock-ups (FIGURE 4) were created with each of the logos as another way to choose the best option. Not everyone can envision a logo as it will appear on a product and these mock-ups help others see something closer to the finished product.

Another important criterion for this logo, and many logos today, is usage on social media. In some of the smaller icons, such as the Facebook icon next to each post, details get lost. How else will this logo be used? This is a national event held annually that uses the logo for ribbons, trophies, garments, mementos, and any other usage that will be in demand.

My Logo Choice

While I’m going to reveal my choice, I have to reiterate that this was just my personal choice and has no bearing on what the organization will choose. I don’t have a Basenji, so I don’t get a vote!

There is just too much detail in all choices for any of them to reproduce well at a small size. The example at top left of Figure 4 would work the best if the years were removed—just leave the 75 and the dog silhouette. But it didn’t grab me as much as some of the others. So my primary choice is the logo shown in FIGURE 5, though admittedly it is the one with the most details.

FIGURE 5: My favorite logo

Since I do have concerns about complexity, my second choice would be the one shown in FIGURE 6; it would be easier to reproduce at small sizes. While I wasn’t asked to do any design, I might even modify it as in FIGURE 7 for some uses that are too small to accommodate details.

The Bottom Line

When a client comes to your shop for some awards, it isn’t really your job to give them a logo critique. Yet you want to deliver great-looking results, and their logo choice could make your job impossible.

It is important for designers to understand how a logo is reproduced at different sizes and different output processes. Of course I hope you already know that a logo should be designed in a vector format so that it can be easily scaled to all sizes with no loss of quality. Even a beautiful logo on paper may fail miserably while an ugly logo could functionally be awesome.

This could lead to situations where you may have to suggest modifications, such as the one I made between Figure 6 and 7, to make a logo reproduce better.

Unfortunately, you also may have to sometimes give clients the bad news that there is just no way their logo will output well. When it fails, they will blame you and not the logo so it is better to give them the bad news before you actually produce a bunch of awards. Provide suggested modifications that would allow the logo to reproduce well and you’ll be more likely to get repeat business from them!

Foster D. Coburn III is the author of 13 books on CorelDRAW, the latest being CorelDRAW X6 Unleashed. He also writes the free Graphics Unleashed Blog and provides fonts, artwork, and add-ons of interest to CorelDRAW users through CorelDRAW Unleashed. Connect with Graphics Unleashed on Facebook and follow Foster on Twitter and Instagram.

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