The anatomy of a logo design

At first glace, a logo design seems simple. But as a brand designer, I know that there is so much more than meets the eye that goes into a logo design. Careful thought and intentional consideration goes in to choosing fonts, colors, and layout so that each logo tells the right story and communicates the right message. A logo is more than just your business name in a pretty font. And while it should definitely look good, there is also meaning behind the design choices and composition of the logo too. Today, I'm going to break down the anatomy of a logo design and show you what a logo is all about behind its pretty design.

Setting the tone

It is important to do research for your brand. Take time to think through the foundation, mission, values, and style of your business and brand so that you know what the tone is for the design. The design should not be based on a whim or current trends. It should come from the core of your business and your unique and authentic style. This is a great way to utilize inspiration boards. Pinterest is most popular and easy but you can use images from the Internet, magazines, or anywhere you find inspiration. I have each of my clients create a Pinterest board so we can share ideas and inspiration. The key here is to not pin other brand designs, but to save images that speak to your true personality and style. Look for photos of home decor, fashion, or products you love.

Along with gathering visual inspiration, it is important to know and define your audience as well. The best way to ensure that your design is translating the foundation of your business and communicating the right message is to know your audience. Know who you are talking to and how to communicate with them. You want to be sure that the design is speaking directly to your ideal client or customer.

Setting the tone and doing your research will help to make sure the design and style fits your brand. Taking the time in the beginning to dig deep and understand the why behind your business will help to make the end product that much better. This is where the meaning behind the design comes into play and you want to be sure to get off to the right start when designing your brand and logo.

Choosing colors

A big part of designing a logo is choosing a color palette. But again, you don't want to choose just any colors or your favorite palette at the time. By analyzing your inspiration and digging deep to understand your style and your brand, a clear color palette will naturally come through. When I look at my clients' Pinterest boards, I can almost instantly see what the color palette will be because their images tend to have a consistent style and theme. But my rule of thumb when choosing colors for your logo and brand is to keep it simple. If I have a client that loves every color in the rainbow, I help them to narrow it down to 2 or 3 main colors so that it doesn't get overwhelming. I typically use no more than 5 total colors for a brand and always use black, grey, or a neutral color in the logo to keep it professional and balanced looking. If you end up with 10 different colors in your logo, it can have a tendency to unprofessional and DIY.

Along with the main colors that are used in a logo, you can choose complimentary colors for your overall brand. That is where I end up with around 5 colors total. The main 2-3 are used in the logo and primary brand elements, but the others can be used as accents on collateral items and your website to add more dimension. Simplifying your overall color palette keeps things aesthetically pleasing, cohesive, and professional looking.

Choosing fonts

There are hundreds of thousands of fonts available, and choosing one or two for your logo can be a challenge. The benefit of having a designer do it for you is that they know the best fonts and have a wide variety already selected to choose from. They can determine which font works best for your brand and how to use it. They key to choosing a font is that it is clean and easy to read, and that it matches your brand. Not all fonts are suited for all brands. Believe it or not, there is a science to it. You also want to be sure not to use too man fonts. Choosing one main font will help establish that signature look of your brand. You can choose an accent font or secondary font to add differentiation in your logo and other brand elements like the tagline or additional text. It's also important to use the right kerning or spacing, and sizing. One wrong element can throw of the entire design. It is important to keep everything balanced and easy to read.

Layout + composition

After choosing colors and fonts, the layout and composition of the logo becomes the focus. Even if you have the right colors and perfect fonts, it can all be messed up by poor layout. Careful thought goes in to the spacing, sizing, and overall layout of text and graphics. This is where you can make or break a good logo. It's important that each element be laid out in a way that is unique, grabs your attention, and creates an overall aesthetically pleasing design. 

Along with the layout and composition comes the addition of graphic elements. My all logos need graphic elements. Some are better with text alone. Some need a distinctive graphic element that helps expand and identify their brand. If a graphic element is part of your brand and logo design, keeping it simple, unique, and directly related to your brand will help to ensure that it compliments your brand correctly. Regardless of what kind of graphic you have included in your logo, placing it strategically in the design helps create emphasis where needed. 

Overall, make sure your logo and brand can grow with you and your business. It's important to do the deep digging in the beginning so you know where you want to go with your brand as your grow. You should try to stick to your style and not with trends and think through design decisions and how they will communicate with your audience. And of course, you can complete the look with a cohesive and well rounded brand by expanding your logo design into patterns, logo variations, and collateral items. 

If you break down your logo by elements, does it do what it should do? Is it professionally designed and communicating the right message?

PS: If you liked this post, you might also like How to know if your designer is a good fit.