Logo Design: Evaluating and Refining

4. Evaluating and Refining Sketches

Before we jump from our sketches on paper into a digital design, let’s ask a very important question: what makes a successful logo?

Qualities of successful designs include:

  • Simplicity – the thoughtful (and sometimes beautiful) organization of information or matter.
  • Clarity – inspires an emotional connection to your business or organization.
  • Scalability – from a 16×16 pixel favicon to a billboard; in print, on a product, or online.
  • Timelessness – creates an experience and communicates a message. Logos are art with a function.

Here’s an example:

How do we achieve these qualities when all we have are sketches?

The principles and elements of design can provide criteria with which we can evaluate and improve our sketches. Think of these as a checklist: for each logo you like, check it for these principles.

 

Principles of Design:

Balance

Placement of visual parts in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement; may be asymmetrical or symmetrical

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Hierarchy

The order in which the human eye perceives what it sees, based on the visual contrast between the elements in a field of vision. For example, color hierarchy determines what colors do you see first on a page.

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Pattern

Planned or random repetition to enhance surfaces or spaces.

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Bad example:

 

Rhythm

The repetition of visual elements, including colors, shapes, values, forms, spaces, and texture.

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Space

The empty area in and around a visual element, either positive or negative. Increases legibility and avoids overstimulation. For a two-dimensional design, space concerns creating the illusion of a third dimension on a flat surface.

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Proportion

The relative size or scale of design elements; the relationship between parts of a whole.

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Emphasis

The focal point of a design.

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Movement

The way the eye moves in, around and through a composition.

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Contrast

The combination of elements to highlight their differences or create balance.

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Unity

The harmony of an entire design that creates a total visual theme.

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Elements of Design

These elements are generally regarded as the ‘stuff’ that design is made of. Each of these elements can be studied on its own, but logo sketches can also be evaluated for their use of each of these elements. Curious? Read more here.

Color

Communicates your brand, including a feeling and mood; guides the eye to relevant information; and calls attention.

 

Shape

A two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture.

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Texture

The way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can be added to attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture.

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Form

There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color.

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Typography

The lettering used for a logomark. The type size and styles all affect readability and the feel of the logo. Styles of type include serif (foot), sans serif (no foot), slab serif, handwriting, script, display, and more. My favorite type resources are Typekit, Dafont, Google Fonts, Lost Type Co-op, and House Industries.

Good example:

 

Bad example:

Evaluating Example Sketches

Let’s take a look at our sketches using these criteria:

Download a printable cheat sheet of this evaluation form:

Example 1:

  • Balance
  • Hierarchy
  • Pattern
  • Rhythm
  • Space
  • Proportion
  • Emphasis
  • Movement
  • Contrast
  • Unity
  • Color
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Form
  • Typography
  • Simplicity
  • Clarity
  • Scalability
  • Timelessness

 

 

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