The Good, The Bad, The Logo (April 2010 Newsletter)

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Logos, you might think, are easy to find these days. There are a million contest websites, services that sell logos for the cost of dinner and plenty of well-intentioned relatives that like to monkey around with graphics programs.

That makes bad logos easy to find. Good logos are completely different. They follow a few simple but important guidelines:

  • They’re unique. This means that good logos are completely original and contain no clipart. Clipart looks cheesy, and it can’t always legally be used in a logo. Logos also shouldn’t copy the latest trend.
  • They fit. In other words, they should reflect your organization and effectively communicate your message. They should reinforce who you are.
  • They’re simple. When you shrink a logo, it should still look like a logo. It shouldn’t look like a complicated blob that makes no sense. (I often think about the way state seals look when they’re reduced to letterhead size: usually like fuzzy circles.)
  • They have a strong concept. They can be abstract, but they should still mean something. There too many nonprofit logos that are an inexplicable squiggly line. What does a squiggly line mean?
  • They can be scaled up. If you want to print your logo on a poster, you should be able to. It should be smooth with no jagged edges. The secret here is a vector graphic, which scales up as well as it scales down.
  • They’re effective without color. Think about your logo as it goes through a fax machine, or what it looks like if you have a black and white printer. None of it should disappear.

You’re better off using a consistent font to represent your organization than a bad logo. Make the right choice in logos, and you should have an image that supports your organization for years to come.

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