Whether you’re trying to decide which designer to hire, or you’re choosing between premade logos, these guidelines will help you identify high-quality, professional logos. To visually illustrate these principles, I’ve included examples of logos that I’ve had the opportunity to redesign.
1. Use of Typography
Typography is a good indicator of the quality of a logo. A well-designed logo should only use one or two different fonts. Any more and the logo will be too busy, and the fonts will clash. If two fonts are used they should complement, not compete with, one another. In the “before” logo in the above example the two fonts clash. The script font used for “Natalia Walth” has a casual and playful personality, while the serif of “photography” is classic and traditional. The client was set on using that script font, so in order to make the logo cohesive, I swapped out the serif font for a clean sans serif. In the “after” version of the logo the fonts complement one another much better.
It is also important that the fonts are properly scaled, meaning there should be some obvious hierarchy. The he “before” version of the logo lacks hierarchy. Due to the large size of “photography” it was competing with “Natalia Walth” for the viewer’s attention. In the updated logo, “Films & Photos” is scaled down to a smaller size and becomes of secondary importance.
The elements of a logo also need to have enough space around them. In the “before” version, her name and “photography” are too close to one another and feel cramped. The “after” version has enough white space around each element.
2. Ability to Scale
Although a logo might look great at first glance, it’s important to consider how it will function when you put it to use. Logos have to be versatile and able to function in a variety of formats, and at different sizes.
Consider that it will be used on business cards, letterheads, websites, social media, and potentially at a very large scale, like on a banner, poster, or maybe even a billboard. This is why it’s important that your logo isn’t too busy or overly detailed. If it is, that detail will become muddled and illegible when it is scaled down.
Take the example above, in the original version the tagline is so small that it quickly becomes illegible when it is scaled down. In the redesigned version, the tagline is larger. When the logo is used at a really small scale there is a version without the tagline for that specific purpose.
3. Visually Memorable
The logo examples above illustrate some of the typography principles that we’ve already discussed. Scaling and spacing are both a problem in the “before” version. In that version “photography” is larger than necessary and too close to “Jessie Bennett”. The “after” version has addressed both of these issues.
The “before” logo is also pretty generic. There’s nothing about it that sets it apart from other logos. While there’s nothing wrong with a clean and simple logo, it still needs to have something that makes it unique. The “after” version of this logo, is much more memorable. Color, gradient, shape, and clean typography all work together to make this logo stand out from others. Most likely there is plenty of competition in your industry, so do yourself a favor and make sure you have a logo that is memorable and sets you apart from your competitors.
There are other elements that distinguish professional logos from amateur ones, but these are some of the easiest identifiers. Hopefully, you now feel more confident investing in a logo, knowing that you’re able to distinguish between professional and amateur work.