Logo Design Inspiration
Logo design inspiration can come from many places. Logos are pretty interesting things. You know, that funny little design that represents brands, companies and products. You can’t escape logo designs as they live among us and surround us. Everywhere you go there are countless logos that pop into view trying hard to get your attention and subliminally sending you the message “Buy me!”
It’s a lot like the television commercials you come across these days. They get louder and louder and say less and less about the product while filling your screen with vibrant images that are supposed to tell you something about an item that may or may not appear in the 15 or 30-second spot. Advertising these days has made a lot of extra work for graphic designers.
Think about that for a moment.
There was a time when a product appeared on screen and not only could you read it, the name told you what that product was. Nowadays you need to be able to decode some sort of crazy puzzle of a logo that may look more like an ink blot than an actual word. Brand identity is all about image and thanks to the world of competition, that image has to grab you by the balls instantly.
Logo Inspiration – The Old Days
Say you’re an Ad Guy. Your client sells cars or widgets or some kind of doohickey that has a specific amount of demand and enough demand to warrant regular advertising. So you meet with the client, discuss what details they want you to focus on in this new ad campaign and you spend a couple hours getting fed with the minute pieces of information that fill up your notepad.
You follow that up with a trip back to your office where you scribble down some notes outlining the gist of your sales call and leave it with the Creative Department. The next day, if your notes made sense, the graphic designer spends a considerable amount of time (weeks, months) drawing mock ups. Eventually you have something to take back to the client to approve.
Logo Inspiration – Today
Someone looking for creative logo designs contacts you via email or in the Contact Us or Request A Quote button that is prominently displayed on your website. Or they contact you via social media. A meeting is scheduled on Skype and you discuss what you envision the logo to be to the client with little or no knowledge of what their brand identity is all about.
After the Skype call ends, you call it a day. When the client contacts you six months later for an update it dawns on you that you’ve forgotten about the job. You pretend to be on top of it and although you can’t recall the product or business name you turn to your computer for assistance. You throw some random words into a graphic generator program and your job is done.
Okay, so we went a bit to the extreme here but there are some key elements that make logo design inspiration such an important part of the branding puzzle in today digital marketing world.
Let’s take a quick look at what they are:
1 – Color
Any idea why logo designs tend to have one or two primary colors and either a black or a white background? It’s to make them easier to read and understand. Coke got it right. Nike got it right. Trying to use 15 different colors in a single logo may work if that logo happens to be the size of the side of a skyscraper but shrink that puppy down to letterhead size or to fit on a pen and the details disappear.
2 – Not Too Wordy
Unless your slogan is a brand that has been around for a hundred years or so, the best slogans that run with logos are those with two, three, maybe four words in them, max. Coke Is It, Just Do It are good examples of word marks that are short, sweet, concise and timeless. A slogan like, “We Call ‘Em Burgers Because The Word Hamburger Doesn’t Fit In Our Logo” is well, dumb. Sure, it may be a bit catchy but overall it’s dumb. Stay away from dumb content.
3 – Not Too Busy
A glitch with some graphic designers is that when they can’t decide on which logo design ideas to use and which not to use, they tend to find a way to get them all into a single logo. This also happens when a new graphic program is purchased. Just look at the logos jumping out at you in the grocery store the next time you try to race to the cooler in the back for milk. If you take some time you’ll be able to categorize each and every logo you see into about five different categories:
- A Good, Well-Designed/Executed Creative Logo
- A Logo Designed By Someone Who Didn’t Understand The Project
- A Logo Designed Using Notes From A Client Who Didn’t Understand Graphic Design
- A Logo Designed With All The Creative Logo Design Ideas Discussed That Week
- A Logo Designed With A Brand New Graphic Arts Program
The best creative logo designs are simple, understated and iconic. The Nike Swish comes to mind. Not much to it. In fact, it was probably a fluke or mistake that somehow touched a nerve and earned the designer $50 or so. Regardless, if you want a product or business to stand out, a basic but dynamic logo gets the job done far better than you think.
4 – A Good Name
There was a time when naming your business was no big deal. If you were the local supplier of pharmaceuticals, you only had to post a sign on your building with the word ‘Drugs’ on it and you’d have an endless supply of customers. Come to think of it, that would still work today only there’d be a higher percentage of sketchy customers. Anyway, it was not uncommon to see business names like Johnny’s Good-Time Emporium & Smoke Shop. At least you knew what Johnny was up to when he was at work. Today, you have to consider the internet and your business name needs to make a nice website domain, plus great content. Using our example, www.johnnysgoodtimeemporiumandsmokeshop.com is very likely still unregistered because it’s such a dumb domain. But as a branding tool and eventual logo, Johnny’s would be pretty simple. The website at www.johnnys.whatever would help to solidify the branding.
The Cool Logos Hall of Fame
Okay, we admit it. We’re talking about logo inspiration here as if we know something about it. Well, guess what, Smart Guy? We do. And to show you that we actually do understand the connection between logo design and branding, we proudly present our Cool Logo Designs Hall of Fame.
1 – Spartan Golf Club
We bow to the genius behind this creative logo with a hidden meaning staring you right in the face. The simple color combo of black on gold is classic and clean. It stands out and it is easy to read. The logo on the gold background is a profile of a Spartan head and helmet but look closer. There’s a golfer in mid-swing that actually forms the Spartan head and helmet. It’s not an optical illusion, it’s brilliant.
2 – Yoga Australia
Remember what we said about keeping it simple? This is truly a stunning example of how to get your message across and sneak in another subtle message to more or less emphasize the first one. At first glance you see the silhouette of a female form in a yoga pose but look closer. The shape, negative space, that is made from her arm and hand holding a bent upwards leg is the map of Australia. Really!
3 – The Bronx Zoo
Here’s another great logo that is black on white. It features the silhouettes of two giraffes and some random birds flying around. The word marks are in brown underneath the graphics with The Bronx stacked on top of the word Zoo which is larger to fill the space. Where things are really cool in this logo is the negative spaces in the legs of the giraffes. If you look hard enough you’ll see landmark buildings (skyscrapers) from The Bronx. Again, simple, iconic and a memorable logo.
4 – Horror Films
Here’s a film company that produces horror films. It says so and leaves not much to misinterpretation. The logo and word marks are white on black which makes for high contract. Above Horror Films is a film reel but it is positioned in such a way that the three holes in the reel form eyes and a mouth that resemble a spooky, horror movie face. Without a doubt, the graphic designer behind this one totally nailed it.
What Have We Learned Here?
Logo design inspiration doesn’t have to be complicated, unless you are getting paid by the hour. Otherwise, keep it simple. Logo design ideas are all around us, you just have to find a way to tap into them. Oh, and the best logo designs are always the cool logos. Good luck and have fun!