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Choosing a Logo Design: First Impressions, Timelessness, How To Evaluate a Logo Design

December 30, 2011 | Branding, Design Basics, Logo design, Starting a Business

Presenting the first round of logo designs to a client is one my favorite parts of my job. It’s very exciting to show how loose ideas, general likes and dislikes, and sometimes even conflicting input gets translated into a tangible logo design.

I’m happy to say we’ve been very successful at being able to translate these abstract thoughts into concrete designs, and generally our clients are pretty wowed by the effect. Whether they are a local client from Portland, Maine or someone we are working with entirely through phone calls and emails, we manage to figure out what they are looking for.

The next step then becomes evaluating the options.

How to choose a good logo design?

Good logos have appeal both at first glance and when you’ve had some time to sit with them. Great logos have immediate appeal and then grow even more appealing as someone has time to take in the detail.

A fun example of this is the FedEx logo. At first glance, it is bold and clean. At second glance, you see the arrow embedded in the logo, which sums up the speed and accuracy which is at the core of their business.

First impressions

When you are working with a logo designer, and seeing your logo designs for the first time, try to remember that feeling. Some of those same first impressions that hit you, will hit your customers and prospects.

Probably you will have a strong reaction (either positive or negative) to some of the logo designs you see. Some of these impressions are gut reactions or from the subconscious. You just like it or didn’t like it for reasons you may not even be able to easily articulate. Even if you can’t say why, it’s still a worthwhile feeling to acknowledge.

Another important part of first impressions is that they cannot be easily overcome. A great logo needs no explanation, it just works.

There are many times when your prospective customer will only see your logo very quickly. Whether it’s briefly when exchanging business cards, or quickly as your logo’d van drives by, many first impressions of logos happen quickly without much time for analysis. It needs to be recognizable and memorable in a flash.

Lasting feelings

Just as important as first impressions, you need to have a logo that you love the more you look at it. As a business owner, you will be promoting your brand identity for years, and you don’t want to easily get tired of it. In fact, the stronger a concept behind a logo design, the more you’ll tend to like it as time goes on.

It’s especially great if your logo tells a story. This story or concept helps you connect with your audience. Just like first impressions, sometimes these impressions are hard to articulate, but still resonate with viewers.

A logo that has no substance or concept behind it will tend to look out of date more quickly because the only thing holding it together is “style.” As trends change, your logo (and therefore your brand) may appear out of touch. A more classic design, backed by a strong concept will serve you better in the long run.

Should I get other people’s opinions?

Many designers cringe at the idea of “design by committee.” Group decisions often weaken a design and the result is a watered down concept with a muddied result.

However, I do recommend that you show preliminary logo designs to other people that you trust.

Each person has their own life experiences that they bring with them when viewing and evaluating something like a logo. They may see similarities with other logos or brands that you are not familiar with. It’s good to hear about these possible conflicts before you become too invested in one logo design.

Do not expect to please everyone, and do not look for your advisers to give you answers (just opinions). In other words, listen when they say: “This reminds me of brand X” but don’t put much weight into statements like: “I’d like it better if this were red.”

Rather, listen to their gut reactions and follow up with research on any correlations they see that you are unfamiliar with. For example, if they say: “This reminds me of the logo for that Financial Advisor who embezzled millions of cash.” it would be a good idea to see if there are similarities between your new logo design and brand identity (especially if it has a tainted history).

The final analysis

I really like to hear the process my client went through to select a logo design. So don’t feel that all you have to do is choose an option. When your logo designer has the full understanding of your decision making process, it can help them as they continue to refine the logo design.

Which brings me to my final point. It is unlikely that whatever design was shown in an initial design presentation is completely ready. Most logo designers are prepared to then refine a logo design, once an initial concept has been selected. This is why having a complete understanding of your thought process is useful. It will help your designer avoid going down paths you’ve already dismissed in your mind; and push a design more in the direction of your liking.

If you want to see some example of our logo design process, I suggest you read about the logo design process for the New England Breeze logo, The Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce logo, or the Perfect Peanut Brittle logo.

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2 comments

  1. jean Lawrance | January 23, 2013 at 6:43 am

    It is absolutely right that the most interesting and excited time is the first round of logo designs to a client. Because at that moment you present your ideas to clients and your power of creativity goes high. Logo designs are the faces of companies therefor logo designs should be unique, attractive, colorful, meaningful and eye-catching. In this scenario your shared points are very helpful and effective.

  2. admin | January 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    @Jean, I agree, that moment when I’m about to show the first round of logos is full of energy! Usually it goes better than my fears have me worrying about.

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