Common mistakes that you might be making with your logo and how to fix them

Designing a logo is much more difficult than it appears on the surface. 

As with anything that looks easy, there are many tricks of the trade involved to make a logo look visually pleasing and appeal to the right audience.

You may have discovered this already, whether you’ve tried your hand at designing your own logo.

But over time, as you learn more about design and gain more experience, you start to pick up some tricks of the trade and learn to avoid some common logo mistakes.

Here are 7 that I come across fairly often (along with some easy ways to fix them!). 

Mistake #1  |  Using competing fonts

The problem  

When fonts are too similar, they compete with each other. Especially if they have a lot of character.

Our eyes automatically try to make sense of a design by ranking the most important elements and least important elements. This is called hierarchy.

Designers use hierarchy to highlight the most important words and aspects of a logo, and downplay the lesser important features of a logo.

So when you have a lot of fonts vying for your attention, it isn’t visually pleasing. Your eye has nowhere to land first, second, third.

The solution

The best rule of thumb when pairing brand fonts? Contrast, contrast, contrast.

Choose one “feature font” to highlight the most important word/words in your logo. Then choose a simple font for words of secondary importance.

By including one memorable font and one simple font, you’re able to create hierarchy and guide a viewer’s eye around the design in a way that makes sense.

You can also create contrast by mixing up font weights and sizes.

And if your logo has other components (like illustrations) that are detailed and have a lot of flair on their own, you might even choose to keep all of the fonts simple so the illustration stands out.

Mistake #2  |  Using all soft colors

The problem

There’s been a trend in using very soft colors for logos in the last five years, often in the wedding industry.

And while it might seem to give off a lighter, more romantic feel, the logo ends up looking washed out and the words of the logo are very hard to read.

It doesn’t do you much good to have a soft, romantic logo if others can’t decipher the name of your business.

The solution

One way that designers make logos appear more professional and legible is to add colors of all values - a light tone, a mid-tone, and a dark tone.

Not only does this provide more versatility throughout the entire brand, but it makes the logo look more finished and it’s much easier to read.

You can still play up the soft, feminine aesthetic through fonts and other details in the logo, but your main priority should be legibility. 

Mistake #3  |  Forgetting to add one memorable component

The problem

One of the biggest advantages of branding your business and designing a logo is differentiation. 

Your logo has the potential to set you apart from all of the other businesses in your industry.

Another advantage is memorability. When people see your logo, there should be one memorable component that sticks with them and comes to mind when they think of your business.

And yet so many people settle for logos that are simply typographic or don’t include a one-of-a-kind detail.

The solution

Your logo should include one key component that catches people’s eye. 

Whether it’s a font, an illustration, or the layout of your logo, it should have some memorable feature that sticks with people and sets your brand apart.

So if your logo doesn’t have one element that pops out, revisit it and consider how you can add one component that catches the attention of potential clients and customers and sticks with them long after they see it.

Mistake #4  |  Adding too much detail

The problem

But sometimes “memorable components” can be taken a little too far.

The problem with highlighting more than one memorable component is again, hierarchy. 

When you have too many details, they compete for a viewer’s attention. Their eyes don’t know where to land and how to rank the components of the design.

The solution

Consider which elements of your design are the most important. Highlight one memorable component and simplify the rest.

Another rule of thumb on detail is to make sure your logo is easily legible when it’s downsized to an inch wide. 

If it loses it’s detail when it’s scaled down, your design needs to be simplified.

5  |  Taking a literal approach

The problem

While your logo should be relevant to your industry, you don’t have to take a super literal approach.

Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you need to include a camera in your logo, or a painter doesn’t have to include a palette or brushes in your logo.

When you’re too literal, you run the risk of being cheesy and reiterating the same message twice.

The solution

Instead, the best logos subtly hint at recognizable aspects of their business.

6  |  Using no creativity (too similar to everyone else's)

The problem

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when designing a logo. 

You might go on Pinterest to find some inspiration, find some examples you like, and before you know it, you’ve designed a logo that’s very similar or follows the same style as many of the examples you’ve pulled from.

Before long, everyone in the industry has a similar logo and there’s no differentiation.

When your logo is too similar to everyone else’s, you miss out on a huge opportunity to set your business apart.

The solution

Step aside from all the other logos out there, get creative, and start from scratch.

Whenever I design logos for clients, I refrain from looking at any other logos for inspiration for fear that I might even subconsciously mimic other designs I’ve seen.

While it might feel risky to step outside of the box and do something that hasn’t been done before, you’re setting yourself up for an awesome opportunity to set that logo apart.

7  |  Not allowing for variations

The problem

While a horizontal, rectangular logo might work great for the top of your website and letterhead, it doesn’t work well for profile photos and favicons. And vice versa.

Your logo should be versatile. You should be able to break apart the different components and rearrange them in a way that’s recognizable but flexible.

But many logos aren’t created with variations in mind. 

And it isn’t long before a business owner begins to place the logo on social media accounts, their website, and other collateral items that they begin to realize that it doesn’t fit well in different formats.

That can be really frustrating.

The solution

How can different aspects of your logo can be taken apart and rearranged for more versatility?

Consider how your logo will look in a rectangular/circular format as opposed to a horizontal format and try to create variations that will accommodate them.

Lillian Gordon