Logos 101 – Guidelines for Business Owners for Logo Design

You should know up front that I am the logo manager and not a logo designer. I have designed some logos in the past, but it is not my strong suit. Clients trust me with their logo for printing and marketing purposes. While I can’t design a glorious logo for you, I can tell you right away if the logo will cause you trouble down the road. I have spent most of my career working with corporate logos. Some logos are great and others are a problem. They may be pleasing to the eye, but they pose a lot of printing problems.

A critical mistake people make at first is offering their designer little or no direction. They find a designer, give them the company name, and tell them to design a logo. In most cases, no further instructions are given. Maybe a few favorite colors or a suggestion or two on a symbol that could be used, but that’s it. The business owner assumes that the designer understands the needs and parameters of logo design. In my experience, around 50% of the logos I come across focus solely on aesthetics. While a visually pleasing logo is important, there are many other things to consider that will play an important role in the future.


While it may be tempting to use a friend or family member who dabbles in graphic design (and they are generally very cheap or even free), the logo usually ends up costing you later. You are more likely to run into problems with design egos and have to deal with time lags. They may not have the technical knowledge either (bitmaps vs. vectors, bleeds, etc.). This is less of a problem for logo design, but it can cause major problems in other projects. On the other hand, don’t discredit these people. I’ve seen great work from aspiring designers and those who design as a hobby.

Regardless of where you find your logo designer, be sure to check their portfolio and then confirm these two criteria:

1. Find a designer to provide you with a vector logo. If they can’t, get another designer. If you don’t know what a vector graphic is, DON’T hire them!

2. Make sure they provide you with the following files:

– The original file (vector) of the program in which the logo was designed.

– A (vector) .pdf of the logo.

– A (vector) .eps of the logo.

– Three high resolution .jpg files of the logo, one 2 “wide, one 12” wide and one 24 “wide.

While your computer probably doesn’t have a program that can open the first three files, make sure you have them on a disk in your office and saved on your computer. Future printers and designers will need these files. See Images 101 for more information on vector vs. bitmap.


In addition to a logo that looks good and makes sense for your business, make sure your designer follows these guidelines. You should also run your designs through these considerations (color, size, and shape):


Colors play an important role in a logo. Ideally, keep colors to a minimum, avoid shading, and keep colors separate. When printing digital graphics in full color, you probably won’t have a problem. Digital printers print graphics just like your color laser or inkjet printer. In general, digital printing is expensive and not always available for non-paper items.

Keeping colors to a minimum can save money. Printing applications for clothing, signs and promotional products will cost more for each color. Promotional products generally have an installation charge and a color execution charge. Screen printing will also cost more for each color. Design a logo with one or two colors or have a version that can be used as a single color.

Adjusted color registration can cause problems. If their colors touch, that is considered strict registration. Text that has an outline around it is a good example. Promotional items that are screen-printed or pad-printed cannot always accomplish this. Strict registration can also become a problem if you photocopy something in black and white. Two completely different colors can look the same color and end up being a big black spot when photocopied. Avoid strict registration or have a version of the logo that does not have strict registration for these situations.

Color fading / shading is not always printable. Most non-digital printing applications print solid colors. If you have a solid color that fades or fades into a darker color or another color, you will need a modified version of your logo.

Custom colors can cost money. Printers have standard ink colors such as red, navy, royal, dark green, yellow, and black. Most printers will charge a fee to mix a specific color for you. Logo promotional items are also mainly available in standard colors. If you selected turquoise blue for your logo and you want to find a teal pen for your business, you will be very limited in your selection.


Text or lines that are too thin or small are not effective and may “disappear” when printed or copied. Small parts within a lowercase “e” and “a” can also be completed if they are too small. When selecting your logo, make sure you can shrink it (or a version of it) to 1 “wide. One inch is about the smallest size your logo will print.


The shape is much more than a vertical or horizontal design. The form must take into account what is known as white space. Avoid design elements that protrude too much from the main design. If your logo has a lot of unusable white space and you want to print it in a small area, the white space can prevent you from having room for the contact information you want to include. See the illustration below. Think about how the logo will look when you combine it with your address or website. Ask the designer to place your address block next to the logo, just as it might appear on a business card or letterhead.

An important note about the different versions:  You should not feel restricted by any of these guidelines. For example, a logo that looks like modern graffiti would probably go against all of the above guidelines, but if that’s what you want, then that’s what you should have. Just ask your designer to produce modified versions that can be printed in single color or in smaller spaces. I have seen companies with 10 page brochures and dozens of variations of their logo that can be used for different applications. To be prepared.

Think about color, size and shape when designing and selecting your logo. It must also have different versions for different applications. Make sure you have the correct files stored for printing. Please note that the most recognizable and famous logos are simple and the colors are limited. Work and rework until you have the perfect logo. It’s your logo, take ownership of it and keep your logo visible.

Also read Why do all startups need a proper logo?

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