Logo Design Calgary

Logo Designer - Corporate Identity


What Makes a Great Logo?

9 Guidelines of Calgary Logo Design

While the design variations are unlimited, however the design variations can be limited to the creativity and skill level of the logo design and originator itself.  If your desire is to truly have a unique and original logo that represents your company, make sure the design process starts out right and with a qualified professional designer. It may be true that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but you want your market to make that correct judgment. The following pointers will guide into achieving a market appropriate logo that’s usable, effective, practical and provides a long shelf life.

1) The Design Brief

This is the key starting point for any and all design projects. This design brief is a written explanation, outlining the aims, objectives and milestones of the logo design project.

A thorough and articulate design brief is a critical part of the design process. It helps develop trust and understanding between the client and designer - and serves as an essential point of reference for both parties.

Above all, the design brief ensures that important design issues are considered and questioned before any design work is started.  The design brief should cover important factors such as: The Company Profile, Your Project Aims, Your Target Audience, Competition, Message & Impression, Design Examples, etc.

2) Make It Unique and Individually Yours

Your logo should be yours. It should be able to stand out on its own. Your logo represents your company’s personality, style and image. Do not copy other logos, use them as references to communicate your preferences, likes and dislikes. Templated or clip art logos will not provide the uniqueness that is required to be uniquely yours. What impression would you get from placing two of the same templated logos side by side representing two different industries? What impression would it give it one of those logos was yours?

3) Trendy or Timeless

There are certainly trends to watch, trends to utilize and trends to avoid. Trends to watch are the colour trends. Colours are selected by the Color Institute and are intended to have a life from 5-10 years. Over the past years we have seen the use of ‘swooshes’ on many logos. Trouble was the swoosh did not represent much on many logos other than being the trend to use. So now the swoosh is becoming out dated and the same goes for the logos that incorporated them. Another trend that seems to be popular is the ‘gel’ effect. This is adding a slick reflection and dimension to the logo so it looks 3D. Stay away from the trendy and stick to the timeless.

4) Gimmick Free

Special effects and filters (glows, bevels, lens flares, etc) can certainly add to and enhance particular images or graphics but not to a logo. To use gimmicks on a logo usually means that the design is missing something or incomplete. But what is missing is the deep thought and design integrity that is usually woven into the design by an experienced professional. Special effects on a logo can cause much grief down the road, especially when applying to the standard business communication material. Your logo should be as a clean and as technically sound as possible for adaptability on all other communication materials.

5) Adaptability & Flexibility

During the life of your company you will want to apply your logo to everything you use to promote the company. That is why having a dynamic logo is so important and having a logo that can be used for all your applications is also important. While a gimmicky logo may look good on a business card, it may not look good for smaller and other applications like faxes. Your logo should hold together in grayscale, black & white and also in colour, in large display applications and as small as a postage stamp. Typical logo uses will be corporate stationery, website, faxes, advertisements, signage, invoices, etc. You will also need logos that reproduce well in low resolution and high resolution applications.

6) Scalability

Your logo may be used in various sizes from large (billboard) to very small (postage stamp). It may be used for placement on garments, pens, giveaways, etc. Space on small items such as these is very limited, so your logo needs to be visible and legible at these small sizes. Simple logos are the strongest and the best for scalability. Intricate and cluttered logos will fill in or become a blob when reduced to postage stamp sizes. The same principal applies to large scale reproductions. Too intricate and detailed of a logo complicates and clutters your image and

7) Fonts and Type Styles

Different fonts say different things. A serif font (like Times Roman) communicates a more traditional style. A sans-serif font (like Helvetica) communicates a more conservative style. Decorative fonts (like script fonts) communicate an elegant style. There are exceptions to this too. Most fonts can be displayed in various styles and thicknesses like regular, bold, extra bold, italics (slanted), etc. Font styles can also be combined to communicate an image that’s totally different. There are fonts to use when writing a love letter, a ransom note and to promote your business. Your font selection should be appropriate for your business market and communicate without confusing your image.

8) Colour or Not

Colour influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions. The understanding of colour enables us to help utilize colour more effectively. Colour does not replace design integrity, it compliments and completes the design. Extensive colour research and information organizations share its colour expertise with professionals in a variety of industries including fashion, commercial/industrial, contract and interior design, graphic arts, advertising, film and education. Colour can communicate energy, calmness, stability and credibility. Poor use of colour can also communicate the opposite of what you want to present.

The use of colour is the finishing touch to your logo. It’s like the final coat of paint one a beautifully crafted piece – it turns you on or turns you off.  Digital technology has significantly reduced the cost for colour reproduction of logos. Your logo will also require colour conversion from a Pantone (custom ink colour) to cmyk (traditional offset printing) to rgb (monitor viewing) colour applications. There will also be black & white, grayscale and white logo versions required for usage on faxes, ads, internet, marketing materials, etc. A well designed logo can be effectively displayed in colour or black & white.

9) Appropriate Aspect Ratio & Footprint

The aspect ratio of a logo is the relationship between a logo's height and it's width. Typical aspect ratios are square, horizontal and vertical. The ‘footprint’ of a logo refers to the amount of physical space that’s required to place a logo on any page. If the footprint is ‘wonky’ – trailing design elements ‘poke’ outside the footprint – it can greatly affect the size that the design can be used at, as well as the visual impact of same. Some logos require two footprints in order to satisfy various usage applications. 


Do I Really Need a Logo?

Can a Small Business Survive Without One? As a Matter of Fact, Yes.

Do I really need a logo? In the purest sense – nobody does. Anybody can start a business without one. In theory, anyone can toil away, providing their client base with the best in service and/or products – relying on word of mouth to expand. Putting faith in the old fashioned method of knocking door-to-door. Many of you are not convinced of the value of a full-blown logo design treatment. Or the expense involved in creating one. “My business will succeed by itself” you exclaim, “I don’t need a stinking logo!” Oh sure, you still need to concentrate on your business basics (a great brand will not bail out a sloppy business – we don’t promise that). But a decent logo (and hopefully a great one) will help to carve out a preconception of what your business is all about, and that will HELP your business to succeed. As a logo design company, it’s obviously our sales pitch to argue that a logo should be part of your overall business plan. It’s also something we believe. After all, it was part of our business plan. And you’re at least willing to accept that we know something about logos. And somewhere along the way – we did something right to grab your attention.

How Many Logos Do You View a Day?

Still not convinced? Look around you. It’s estimated that the average person is exposed to over 200 business logos or brand marks an hour. Sound whacked? Let’s see. You start off the morning with a branded coffee (even ‘no-name’ brands have their own logo – in one of the great marketing ironies), eat your branded cereal, shower with your branded shampoos and soaps. On the way out the door to your branded car, you dress in your logo’d clothing, and pass by untold branded stores, billboards and even bumper stickers on the way to work. You’ll probably pass a FedEx truck or two on the highway (did you notice the hidden arrow in their logo?). If you have access to the Internet in your daily labors – your 200 per hour exposure rises exponentially. One only has to take a look at our gallery of company logos to see the vast number of marks and brands around.

What a Logo Means

A logo – the word is an abbreviation of the word logotype (or logogram), which is defined as ‘a symbol representing a phrase, word, or idea’ – has represented many things throughout the times. The swastika became the universal symbol of absolute evil (even though it had its start in Indian culture as a representation of good luck) A logo can represent the better of man – the cross has come to represent Christianity (when colored red – it’s a logo for Red Cross medical services), a crescent moon Islam (when colored red – the Islamic version of the Red Cross), a star has come to represent the Jewish faith. Logos have come to mean more mundane things as well – a red octagon means stop, little stick people mean washroom (the one with the skirt is for the ladies), arrow mean ‘this way’, etc., etc., etc.

The Big Boys Can’t Be Wrong, Can They?

In our commercial endeavors, logos have come to mean a quick meal (the McDonald’s arches and other fast food logos), sports (the Nike swoosh) soft drinks (Coca-Cola – who even brought us today’s version of Santa Claus as part of their branding endeavors). Our comic book characters get logo’d (the Bat, the ‘S’ and the ‘X’), teams have sports logos aplenty (the San Jose Sharks set records for their first season logo’d merchandise sales – the logo was THAT cool).

Our rock legends do it too, with band logos dotting the entertainment landscape. There aren’t too many people who don’t recognize the unique typography of KISS or Aerosmith. Even punk bands have them too. Remember the Ramones logo? And even though they might be before your time, The Beatles logo adorned Ringo’s drum kit long before they become one of the biggest bands in history. Star Wars, Jaws and 007 have their own logos, as do Star Trek, Lethal Weapon, Shrek and the entire Godfather series. Not to mention the flying logos of the movie companies that produce them. And there’s a reason why every minute of CNN and Fox news reporting is accompanied by their simple icon at the corner of the screen. Books, cars, clothes, food, entertainment, religion and sex (yes sex – the Playboy bunny doesn’t mean Easter egg bearing rodents and the Penthouse logo does not represent a key cutting service). Military branches have ‘em, countries have ‘em, and even space (if NASA has their way) – will have ‘em. All of the Fortune 500 companies have logos too. And when it comes to kitsch, can anything top the smiley face logo? Not surprisingly Smiley is very big business.


The Recognition Nanosecond

Why? Recognition folks. Recognition. In the incredibly cluttered visual space of the average consumer you have a nanosecond to grab their attention. You better make it good. If your brand is a clip art logo found at the local print shop, and is also used by twenty other folks clambering for attention, what chance do you really have? Slightly, and I do mean slightly, more than someone who doesn’t even have one. And yet, when it comes to creating a business model, many folks believe they don’t need a corporate identity design. Or if they do, a discount ‘clip-art’ solution that can be found in their local print shop will suffice as their new company logo design. Or second-rate logo templates that cost $100 over the Internet. In essence, they believe that every other business, country, sports team and religion on the planet – from the smallest to the absolute largest – have got it all wrong. Maybe they do. But as a business owner myself – until the church, the USA, Microsoft, Nike and my favorite rock band are proven wrong, this is one tried and true business model I am willing to follow. And follow it religiously.

Attention to the Nuts and Bolts

On a surface level, the benefits are simplistic. A great logo on a well-designed letterhead or business card design will stand out against a bunch that aren’t. A nicely developed brochure design or flyer will stand out better than one that isn’t. You want to be among the .05% of promotional material that isn’t headed for the trash. Simple yes, but it’s more than that. On a ‘gut’ level a well-executed logo design gives your clients a psychological ‘lift’. A well-designed logo (accompanied by an effective ‘look-and-feel’) gives newcomers to your business a perception of professionalism and attention to detail. You look after all the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your business and in turn, will look after them. Conversely, if you pay such little attention to your businesses’ image – what’s really going on behind the scenes? (At this point the nay-sayers will argue they’re paying too much attention to their client’s needs to care about a silly logo, but is anyone REALLY going to buy that? I know I wouldn’t.) A professional logo design and corporate identity gives the impression that you care about your business, and in turn, care about the things your business does. You take pride in everything about your company – from how it looks, which obviously translates to how it looks after its customers. It is an overall image of strength, quality and professionalism that starts the minute your clients are exposed to your business. Often that initial exposure is a nanosecond (remember the 200 logos per hour). Don’t you want to make it count?

Walking the Talk

Every endeavor starts out with naming a company. After that, it’s branding time. Tied in with a really effective ‘look and feel’, a good logo has an instant ‘ah-ha’ factor with people who have seen your ads, websites or storefronts before. Hours, days or even months ago. They weren’t ready to buy then, but they sure as hell are ready to buy now – and “hey – I remember this outfit.” It really is that simple. Around here, we follow our sales pitch, which is also our corporate mantra, religiously. Everything we send out has our logo on it. From faxes, to press releases, to yes, even checks (hey – the people we pay may need our services at some time). Our web site, offices, clothing, and mouse pads – everything gets the corporate ‘once-over’. Colors, type, logos and yes, even font usage. When you see our material – it is our sincerest hope that you’ll know it’s us. And we do everything in our power to make sure you do. If you leave this site, right now, and run into something of ours in the future, we certainly hope we’ve earned an ‘ah-ah’. And you’ll once again give us a chance to show you what we do. Does corporate logo design work?

You’re reading this aren’t you?