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In previous blog posts we’ve given tips on how to design the best logo for your business. Often clients come to us looking for a rebrand because their current logo isn’t for their business. There’s a whole host of things that can go wrong with logo design, but below is a list of what we consider to be the most common culprits.

Logo Design- how not to design a logo

Logo Mistake 1- Make your design overly detailed

As explained previously, simple logos are better for business. Using too many colours will make using the logo across different mediums tricky, while too many typefaces will cause confusion. Restricting the number of fonts to one or two improves legibility as well as brand recognition. Not only will an intricate logo design lose detail when it’s scaled down, but it’s more information for the viewer to process, so it will be less memorable.

The solution- keep it Simple!

Some of the worlds largest companies have learnt these lessons from bitter experience- FedEx found that their logo was overly complicated and therefore simply wasn’t legible in smaller sizes . The delivery moguls took action in 1994 and simplified both their brand name and logo- The resulting design is much more versatile and is widely considered one of the finest rebrands of all time. Simplicity is of course timeless so the logotype hides it’s 20 years of age very well indeed (spot the now famous ‘negative space’ arrow)

Fedex logo rebrand

Logo Mistake 2- Try to be too clever

Many businesses have made the mistake of trying to be too clever, ending up with overly contrived logos because they’ve tried to do things like forcing letters together to look like something they don’t. Crafting a logotype which utilises a letter requires experience and skill. When done well it can work brilliantly when done badly it can render your logo unprofessional at best and totally incomprehensible at worst.

The Solution- Ensure your logo is unique but don’t force it.

While it may seem nice to have a logo which indicates what your company does, this should actually come secondary to whether people can recognise you. Our very own ‘Gorilla’ icon for example bears absolutely no reference to design but what does do well is gives us a unique and recognisable face. Overtime our clients have learnt to associate us with this icon combined with our vivid yellow branding- even though it doesn’t scream ‘we are designers’. The lesson here is that if, for example you are starting a Veterinary Practice, try to focus on giving your logo a unique element which will make it recognizable to customers. No matter how abstract it is this is usually results in a better design than say forcing* all of the letters to look like a pet cat (unless of course you employ a very skilled designer who knows how to execute such designs with skill)

*There are of course happy occasions where a name lends itself well to a logotype without having to be forced- Here’s one we did for Violet, a hospitality company who create exciting dining experiences.

Violet hospitality logo

Logo Mistake 3- Too much type

This is one of the most common problems we encounter. Either a company has two many different typefaces going on or they have too many different sizes of type in their logo. This causes two potential problems. One, your logo can only be scaled down until the smallest type is visible. So if for example you have a company called ‘Big Exhibitions’ the ‘Big’ being written in large type and the ‘Exhibitions’ in small type, the ‘Exhibitions’ will quickly become unreadable in small sizes.


The second problem is if you have too many typefaces in one logo mark it makes it very difficult for you to become synonymous and recognisable to customer with one style of ‘typography’- not to mention it generally looks unprofessional.

The Solution- Less is more

You should aim to use only one typeface in one size (if possible). Think of some of the most recognisable logotypes in the world, Coca cola, Adidas, lego, IBM- they all use one core typeface in one size.

IBM logo design

Logo Design mistake 4- Playing too safe.

It never pays to play it too safe. Your logo design won’t be memorable if it’s overly bland with no unique element – and clichés are equally forgettable. There is no doubt it can be useful to reference iconography that is synonymous with your industry- A travel company for example may choose to reference a plane or a globe as part of it’s logo mark- This is fine as long as it has it’s own unique spin so that it doesn’t look like every other bland travel agent out there.

The Solution- Look at your logo from a new angle

The first idea that pops into your head when you envisage your logo is very rarely the best- it takes time and patience to eradicate all the bad ideas until you are left with a single perfect design. A useful way to approach logodesign is to try to look at what has been done and aim to do the exact opposite, this will result in a much more and interesting and memorable end design. A good example is the logotype for ‘STORY’ a branding agency. The obvious thing to do would have been to reference a ‘book’ in the logo. Instead Toko design agency chose to create an ‘unfinished’ logo type reflecting the way a story reveals itself over time- Approaching this project from an unusual angle has resulted in a highly original and successful identity.


Logo Design mistake 5- Be a brand sheep

If you observe what’s hot right now and try to jump on the bandwagon, chances are you’ll come to regret it. A well-designed logo should be timeless. If you’re trying to be stylish rather than communicating a feeling or an idea, when that style goes out of fashion, your company will end up being perceived as dated. Abstract wavy gradient type logos seem to be all over the place right now. Be warned though gradient’s may look ‘cool’ and ‘futuristic’ now but they translate badly into black and white making them quite inflexible when printing in one colour. We think American Airlines may well regret messing with their original (and we would argue superior) logo.


The Solution remove the noise

The solution here is to figure out which logos are absolutely essential to your design and consider everything else to be noise. By decluttering your logo you are effectively ensuring that they will stand the test of time better. So if it doesn’t help communicate your core idea put it in the trash, the usual suspects are; gradients, drop shadows, unnecessary decoration and needless transparency. A good case in point is how Starbucks have refined their overly complicated ‘Mermaid logo’ into an elegant geometric design which is infinitely more useful.


We hope you’ve found this post helpful but if you’d like help with your logo design project or would like more information on the do’s and don’ts of logo design, simply get in touch with us here