What is a Logo?
A logo is an identifier used to brand your company, project or event. It is often a combination of text with a graphic. To be effective, it should be simple, easy to recognize and used consistently.
Simple is Beautiful
What’ does Nike, Apple and McDonald’s have in common? A simple, yet very recognizable logo or brand. Select a simple single graphic. Forget photos. They are difficult to reproduce in many media. No more than 3 colors, however, the fewer the colors the better. What kind of graphic should I select? It doesn’t really matter. If there is a graphic that is relatively unique and represents your business in some way, that will work fine. Unique is critical. Make it yours and easily recognizable. You just want you logo graphic to be quickly associated with your business. Make sure the graphic does not have any thin lines as that may make it difficult to reproduce in some media.
A Simple Effective Logo
- 3 or Less Primary Colors
- Solid Colors – No Fades or Textures
- No Shadows
- Distinctive and Meaningful
A font is a text style. Select a font that is readily available. If you or your designer selects a font that does not come with Microsoft Windows, make sure YOU purchase the font. You may have to provide it to those firms you want to use it. Do not use more than two fonts (one is better) for your logo. Select a font that does not have thin strokes within it. These thin strokes may be difficult to reproduce in certain media like embroidery. Serif fonts (such as Times Roman) have small lines at the edges of the strokes. Sans-Serif fonts do not have these lines are are plainer looking. San-Serif fonts (such as this one which is Arial) are good choices as they are easier to reproduce in every media and in small sizes.
One color is ideal. Remember, many media is black and white or two colors. Since your background is white or must be a different color than your logo, one color always work. Stick with primary or secondary colors that are inexpensive to reproduce. Primary colors are easy to match; are available on the web; don’t require extra charges for unusual inks or threads; and are pleasing to all eyes. If you pick a more sophisticated color, use a PMS chart and make a record of the PMS number. This makes matching much easier. Make sure your logo looks good in black and white. Newspapers, Yellow Pages and other media may require your logo to be printed in black and white.
One of the most important benefits of creating a logo in vector art is that the size it is designed at doesn’t make a difference, The reason is that vector art can be enlarged to any size without losing any resolution (quality of look). Copy a logo from a web site and then enlarge it by 300 percent. Notice how poorly the logo looks. It is fuzzy, has “stair steps”, faded colors, etc. This is because it is bitmap art that is usually 72 dots per inch (low resolution).
Vector art drawing programs draw objects using math to track the drawing lines. When a drawing is increased or decreased in size, it’s simply a matter of the computer changing the math. These objects can be filled (or refilled) with any color you choose. The drawing lines can be easily thickened and changed. Making changes to your logo is easy to do with a vector art drawing program. Bitmap art such as what must be used on the web is a bunch of colored dots. The text in your logo is also turned into dots. What does this mean? It’s difficult to make changes and when the artwork is made larger (especially much larger such as for a banner) becomes stair stepped, It looks horrible! The beauty of vector art is that you can make changes easily and inexpensively and you can blow up the size as large as you need without any loss of resolution (which means quality in computer art). Unfortunately, with the growth of the Internet, many of today’s young artists have not learned how to use a vector art drawing program. Their bitmap artwork may look “very cool”, but often does not serve you well. Insist upon vector art.
Your Logo Files
Most vector artists use Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. The file extensions are .ai and .cdr. Make sure you get a copy of the original art file in the native drawing program. Also ask for the following:
- The artwork should be done in full color AND grayscale (or black & white)
- An .eps or .pdf file (vector art file that can be easily imported)
- Full color bitmap files in .tiff and .jpg (or .gif) formats in 72, 120, 200 and 300 dpi resolutions at a normal size for use on paper.
- Grayscale or black & white bitmap files in .tiff and .jpg (or .gif) formats in 72, 120, 200 and 300 dpi resolutions at a normal size.
With these files you have everything you need to reproduce your logo on any media and at any size with excellent quality results. The media you may want to use your logo on includes: full color printing, black and white newspaper, low quality print in telephone books, embroidered shirts & hats, laser & rotary engraved, sandblasted, screen printed, large banners & signs, die print on promotional products.
Bitmap or Raster Art
Logos created with a bitmap editor or design program such a Adobe Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint are made up of thousands of color dots. Artwork provided as a bitmap as a jpeg or gif file, can be extremely difficult to change. Logo files made for the web are small and low resolution (72 dpi). Many of my clients provide me with these files expecting a larger, cleanly engraved logo on their plague, mug, or whatever its going on. You just won’t get good results with a graphic file designed for the web. If bitmap art is your only artwork choice, ask for the following: a 6 inch tall or wide logo (whichever is the tallest/widest) in full color at 300 (or higher) dpi. Also ask for the same file in pure black and white artwork (NOT grayscale). If your graphic artist can’t provide these two files to you, find someone who can. From these two files, you will be able to put the logo on everything except large banners and signs. Once again, vector art does not have any of these drawbacks.
A friend who will design your logo in Photoshop for “free” will likely not end up being “free” at all. Your logo may be re-created by many artists along the way with a “set-up fee” every time it is used on another media.