Recently, I did a post on the top 10 logos in the luxury ground transportation industry. With each of the ten finalists, I highlighted what I liked about each logo and why the logo worked. The fact of the matter remains, however, that more times than not logos are more about what they aren't than what they are. Time after time, I come across logos that I have to include in my publication that are flat-out designed wrong.
Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to educate those looking for a new logo or perhaps reevaluating their present logos with a list of eight common mistakes in limo logo design.
8. Vectorize it!
Too often, businesses use "rasterized" images in their logos—a rasterized image is any image that is created with dots, like a photograph. A high-resolution (printable) image is 300 DPI (dots per inch). Think of it as a photograph—obviously, when you scale a photo larger, it loses clarity. The dots, or pixels, are spread out and it can appear to become fuzzy, or pixelated, to the eye. If you are creating a logo, use a program like Illustrator that bases its design on vector graphics. Vector graphics are not composed of pixels but rather are created by mathematical equations—allowing them to be blown up to any size without losing quality or detail.
If you are planning on using your logo in many different marketing collateral, then you need to create a vector version. This way, your logo will easily translate onto a business card, tee shirt, brochure, website and billboard and look exactly the same—essential for brand recognition.
7. Keep it Simple, Stupid.
Remember that a complicated logo is counter-intuitive. There is a tendency for business owners that when they pay a designer that with every dollar they spend they want more. With logo design, most of the time "less is more." Your logo is the introduction to your company, so you cannot confuse the listener with a complicated message. This is even more important in the limo industry. Limo companies tend to have very long names, for the most part. Don't make your logo even more involved by making the logo an eyeful. Use easy-to-read fonts that, when scaled to any size, are easy to read. Also, eliminate any unnecessary wording in your logo. For example, adding LLC or Inc. to your name.
6. Overdoing Special Effects.
Gradients, beveling, 3-D Effects and styles look great on a concert poster. But on a logo? Not so much. There has always been the temptation to add crazy effects to a logo to make it, as many business owners call it, "more jazzy." However, it doesn't always work. Knowing how to bevel a logo in Photoshop does not translate over to the concept of designing a logo. Drop shadows work when laid over a photograph, but not necessarily in a logo design. If your logo has to be shrunken down in size, it makes for difficult reading.
5. Too Many Fonts.
Fonts are typefaces and are the most important choices you can make when designing a logo. Over time, the font you decide to use says quite a bit about your company. If you exercise the liberty of using too many fonts, your message will get confusing. Serifs and sans serifs are the two types of font styles. Put simply, serifs are fonts with feet and shoulders—Times New Roman, as an example. Sans serifs are fonts without feet and shoulders—Helvetica, for example. Can you combine a Serif and Sans Serif? Sure. But combine too many and it can dilute the logo and the message. Remember, the font should help accentuate the brand... not be the star.
4. Using Clip Art.
Clip art is another logo "no no". Clip art was created for the sole purpose of the creation of a popular theme that can be used multiple times by multiple artists. Don't use clip art as part of your logo. It comes off amateurish and hokey and cannot be original in any capacity. Avoid this shortcut and take the time to be unique.
3. Acronym Heavy.
Sometimes an acronym is unavoidable. Like, for example, ETS International. The company IS CALLED ETS. Acronyms that no one will know are ineffective on a logo. Business names are not normally created with logo designs in mind. Eventually long business names will become shortened as in the case of IBM
and FedEx. However, if a business does not yet have a presence then an acronym that no one knows it is ineffective. For example, don't create an acronym that isn't going to be what your company goes by.
Visual accents are also essential and every designer knows that to accent the wrong word in a name by lining up or emphasizing elements may mean that only unimportant words are memorable.
2. Bad Choice of Colors.
Every color on the color rainbow has a feeling or emotion tied to it innately. Red is powerful, Blue is corporate and Black is sleek. Combine all three and you may have a bit of a mess, unless you are an NHL franchise and you're getting revenue for the purchase of team merchandise. Stick with colors that tie into your brand. In fact, design the first logo drafts with no color at all. If you tie in your logo and associate it with a particular color, you won't get an unbiased opinion. Combining three colors is too many, no matter what colors you choose (unless one of the "colors" is gray or black, or something neutral). Stick with a basic color scheme and try to think a little out of the box when picking a color to brand your company around.
And the number one mistake to avoid, if at all possible, is the biggest blunder I see regularly:
1. Avoid Using a Limousine! Whether it be a clip art image of a limousine or a stylized version of a limousine, just say no! And I say this for a couple of reasons. Most notably, your business is not about the vehicle. I repeat: your business is not about the vehicle. Your business is about the "ride." You are not selling limousines, you are selling the experience of riding in a limousine. Don't make it about the vehicle... especially in a logo of your company. Make your logo mean you. Also, your company (unless it is a one-vehicle fleet) has different types of vehicles—what is it about all of them that make up your logo? Try to consolidate everything about your company in as broad of a stroke as possible. If your company is about customer satisfaction, build your logo around that. If it is about being on time, make it about that. By all means, avoid a vector image of a limousine. A "stylized" abstract allusion of a limousine? Maybe. But make the image yours.
As you can see, designing the proper logo can reap the reward of brand distinction. A unique, well-thought out logo design is the foundation of your business. Make it count!
Written by John Crawford