Potato Stamp Logos – A simple guide

You’ve heard it before time and time again and yet it is still worth repeating.  When it comes to creating logos KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Too often people get carried away with what THEIR business values are, what THEY like, how THEY’VE always imagined it to look and they try to put all that meaning into one logo – often doing so far too literally.

This is a strange approach when really you are trying to appeal to other people. When coming up with your logo you’d be much better off trying to think about what your audience would want.  Don’t get me wrong your brand is an extension of you and you have to look at it everyday so you’d best like it. But for goodness sake keep it simple.

A simple logo will look good in any size, whether its 5mm or 5m wide. Always look at your logo from a distance and as a very small image on screen.  Another thing to check for is free fonts.  They might look great and be just what you’re after but increase the text to 4m wide and put it on your vehicle and you may find you have a rather pointy logo with jagged edges throughout – have a really close look at the edges before going ahead with your final decision.

A simple logo will be capable of being juggled into a variety of shapes.  For example when your put it on your website banner it usually HAS to be landscape. In order to create a simple logo made up of a marque and text it is important to choose a font that compliments the shape of the marque.  The best way to do this is to match the edges of the font with the edges of your marque.

But which comes first when designing? The text or the marque? If the client or designer has a clear idea of what they would like as a marque – start there, if not start with the font. A good font is essential – this needs to be instantly legible and therefore SIMPLE!

I prefer 1 or 2 colour logos -3 at a push. If your logo is simple you should be able to invert it easily and create a single colour version. If you break the 3 colour rule make sure you have good reason. Don’t over cook it! Recently I was asked to do a logo with 6 ‘features’, i.e. 1 marque, 1 word, 2 altered letters, subscript and the text was split into 2 colours.  That’s too much! Find 1 ‘feature’ or ‘trick’ and use it well.

SOLID = SIMPLE! Do gradient logos actually benefit the client? They are more expensive to manufacture into signage (print also fades quickly), multiple versions must be created, meaning there is less consistency and often the strength of the imagery is reduced. Many larger brands are now reverting to solid colours and rightly so. Surely clear, crisp, consistency wins the day.

Mafalda Spencer, daughter of Herbert Spencer (largely responsible for the road sign system we enjoy today that was created in the 60’s) was my lecturer and landlady at Falmouth University. She had a mantra that I still use today with clients and myself when I get carried away: “If you can’t make a potato stamp of it – it’s not a good logo.”

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