Why Company Logos Suck and How to Fix Them

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Having a bright idea

Think of the golden arches from McDonald’s or the swoosh from Nike.

When people see these famous logos, most are able to instantly form associations with the brand. The first with fast food and the second with athletic wear.

If you were driving down the highway and saw the golden arches, you might pull over for a quick bite to eat. Or seeing a professional athlete with the swoosh logo on their uniforms might make you more willing to purchase from that brand.

Either way, this kind of recognition is incredibly powerful.

And it’s the reason why companies are willing to spend millions of dollars just on their logos alone. For example, Pepsi paid $1 million for a new logo while BP spent an astounding $211 million.

These figures sound shocking at first glance. But this kind of investment is not all that surprising as logos are essentially a reflection of a company’s brand identity.

Why Logo Design Matters

Logos are valuable marketing assets.

They are graphical representations of a company and essentially serve as the “face” of a brand on a myriad of marketing materials. Logos consist of various elements including colors, fonts, and graphics. Each come together to reflect a company’s unique identity and even to establish a bond with customers.

Why logo

In other words, a well-designed logo leaves a favorable impression while a shoddy logo reflects poorly on the brand. One example is the immediate backlash that forced Gap to revert back to their original logo after unveiling a new logo redesign.

Logo design is essential for another reason: Building recognition and trust.

Companies such as Apple and Starbucks have iconic logos that are instantly recognizable. Building this kind of recognition took decades of marketing and consumer interaction with the brand. But once consumers grew to trust these brands, any future encounters were likely to be met positively. This is why logo design is so vital especially in an increasingly competitive landscape.

So what goes into making an awesome logo and why do most companies spend top dollar for logos that suck?

Choosing a Bad Font

Coca-Cola’s logo is simply the name of the company.

What makes it unique and iconic though is the font used:

coca cola

But just imagine this logo with a different font:

coca cola

The example above illustrates how fonts can completely change the look and feel of a logo (and not necessarily in a good way). The font makes the logo look childish and will likely have a negative impact on the brand if Coca-Cola decides to suddenly use it.

A common mistake then that many companies make is choosing a font that is either illegible or not appropriate for their brand. For example, this font looks horrendous with the Coca-Cola name but it might work for a toy company that appeals to a younger market.

Bottom line: Avoid using fonts that are difficult to read. If you want to reflect a professional look to your brand, then go with a classic and timeless font. Depending on your target audience you might choose something more playful and fun.

Having Too Much Clutter

Keeping things simple is an important concept in web design. Overly cluttered pages make it difficult for visitors to navigate the site and has even been shown to have a negative impact on conversions.

The same principle applies to logo design.

A logo should be able to stand on its own. Having too many elements such as different fonts or graphics makes a logo look too busy and difficult to recognize.

Here is an example:

logo

At first glance, it looks too crowded. Here the company is trying to be creative with its logo by incorporating different graphics and colors. But there is simply too much going on with the logo.

A simple design not only allows for easy recognition but also makes the logo more memorable.

Some of the largest companies in the world use a simple design including Apple:

apple-logo

Keeping the design of your logo also has a practical purchase. A simple design is easier and cheaper to print on marketing materials.

Bottom line: While you may want to get creative with your logo to capture your business’s personality, going overboard can make it too cluttered. Keep things as simple as possible and avoid using too many elements (e.g. graphics, fonts, etc.) with your logo.

Not Reflecting the Brand’s Personality

A well-designed logo is one that reflects the brand’s personality.

Louis Vuitton is widely known for its finely crafted products. The company rightfully uses a more classic font in its logo:

Louis Vuitton logo

Other companies that sell high-end fashion products such as Gucci take a similar approach with their logos:

Gucci logo

Here both companies use bold fonts in caps as part of their logos. This style works well to convey a sense of luxury and extravagance. But what works for one brand doesn’t necessarily translate to another. For example, this font wouldn’t work for a company like H&M which focuses more on fast-fashion clothing and not luxury products.

HM logo

Another important aspect of logo design then is to design for the brand. It may sound obvious but it’s worth mentioning.

Earlier we looked at how simply changing the font on the Coca-Cola logo makes it look childish. But that kind of playful font would certainly be appropriate for a company like Toys “R” Us.

toysrus-logos

This font and color scheme works for a toy company but the same can’t be said for companies that sell premium products or services. Another important consideration is that logos don’t necessarily need to show what a business offers. For example, car logos don’t show cars yet many are instantly recognizable such as the logo for BMW or Toyota.

Bottom line: The key to designing an effective company logo is positioning it for its intended audience and also using an appropriate font. A logo for a law firm would have a more serious feel to it compared to a logo for a company that sells children’s products.

Not Investing in a Professional Design

Designing a logo is not a simple matter of firing up Photoshop, inserting some graphics, and selecting a font. The entire process when working with a professional graphic designer is rather lengthy which includes:

  • Design brief and discussions
  • Market research
  • Initial sketches
  • Mock-ups
  • Feedback
  • Delivery

Before pen is put to paper, a great deal of research is needed to better understand the company and their objectives with a new logo. Such projects may also have multiple people working on them and require further revisions. While there is no set price on how much a quality logo costs, you get what you pay for.

A common reason why many company logos suck is simply because many believe they can get a professionally designed logo at a low price.

Sites such as Fiverr are great for certain things but don’t expect a professionally designed logo. Someone getting paid $5 for a logo won’t put in the same effort as a professional graphic design company. So what you end up with is a poorly designed logo that was hastily put together.

Bottom line: The cost for a professional logo design depends on a number of factors. While you may not have the same budget as a Fortune 500 company, it’s worth investing more for a professional logo that reflects your business.

Conclusion

A logo is ultimately what distinguishes a brand.

But often many companies take shortcuts and end up with logos that are a poor reflection of their brand. The importance of a professional design cannot be emphasized enough. Avoid these common mistakes to create a well-designed logo that leaves a favorable impression.

Author bio 

Emily Reiffer is content marketer and Manager at Digital Monopoly – parent company of Perth Web Design

1 COMMENT

  1. Emily, I found your article very interesting and I loved the examples you gave! Couldn’t agree more that a good logo is one of the most important marketing elements for a brand.

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