I remember at design school many years ago, that a lot of lectures and tutoring sessions were about the psychology of a good logo design and how to go about designing logos correctly. Looking back after all these years, I can honestly say they were absolutely right when they used to say, “Your job and responsibility as future logo designers will be to ensure that the logos you design for businesses will help them grow correctly and achieve success to whatever level they intend.”

I also remember the in-depth discussions and all the information taught to us about logo design. And of course I should, I use that knowledge regularly. Of the many, many things we were taught, I share the following three things with clients whom I design logos for:

1/ For a logo to be a ‘quality logo’ it must pass the ‘paint it in black silhouette’ test. If you were to paint it in black, would it still be instantly recognisable at a glance, or not? If it does, it is on the right track to being a ‘quality logo’. (See the below example)

2/ It needs to instantly represent how you want your business to be perceived.

3/ A logo can be made up of:

  • Logo graphic, logo text and a tagline
  • Logo graphic and logo text
  • or just ‘Logo as text’
  • There are also some instances where you can get away with ‘Logo as text’ and a tagline.
Dead Puppy Logo

I designed this logo for a computer game company back in 2002.

Dead Puppy logo - painted black

Painted in black. Note the deliberate white space between the dogs legs.

A logo that will serve a business well, allows people to understand quickly what the logo graphic is, what the text says and what the logo design is meant to convey. People will make a judgement about your logo very quickly; sometimes sub-consciously but in certain instances, very consciously.  A good logo attracts people and therefore attracts business. A bad logo repels. A good logo also has the ability to potentially become highly memorable and instantly recognisable, even only if the ‘logo graphic’ is present. Think of the McDonalds ‘M’ and the Nike ‘Swish’.

People will also be able to understand a quality logo design at a glance – this is very important in all situations including: they glance your logo on letterhead, on your business card displayed on a front-counter, your vehicle signage and/or your billboard sign catches their eye while driving, etc.

There is no denying the fact that a quality logo forms the foundation of your business brand’s identity.

Your logo plays a BIG large part in forming the first impression of your business. There is an old saying “perception equals reality”. You could have the best business ever, excellent products, services, customer service, etc but you still may not be generating anywhere near the number of enquiries, leads, walk-ins (if you run a brick and mortar shop) and sales that you are hoping for, if your logo, your website, your social media channels, your print design, etc is not helping people form the ‘perception’ of your business that you want them to.

Your logo is central to your entire brand strategy (and therefore also central to your growth strategy and growth). Without a great brand strategy, you are missing out on sales that are instead going to your competitors. Sales you don’t even know about because you were never approached. On the other hand, if your branding strategy is correct, you will know it 🙂

PS. Quick side note: There are also many other rules to follow in order to have a quality logo. They are all based on what will psychologically best activate your ideal buyer personas (ideal buyers). Some of these rules involve:

  • No more than 3 colours
  • No more than 3 fonts. Usually only 1 or 2 font families
  • Must employ Colour Psychology
  • How does it make people feel when they see it?
  • I needs to work at different sizes: large for building fascia signs (if you have a retail shop building), small for your website, and really small for avatar icons on your Facebook Business Page Profile, LinkedIn, etc.

We have been doing brand development, brand design, re-branding, logo design, web design and print graphic design commercially for the past 20 years. There are many of us in our inner team and associate team who are graphic designers, web designers and brand specialists.

PPS. Note that the ‘paint it in black’ rule is also used when designing illustrations and key poses for animations. In the Zoolander cartoon character design I created back in 2002 (below), you can see the extreme pose ‘key frame’ of him jumping would be recognizable as a ‘jump’ or maybe even a ‘leaping, jump prance’ in a ‘walk-off’ lol (if you are a Zoolander movie fan I know you will get that reference) if it was painted black.

I use the ‘paint it in black’ rule for any and all illustration jobs, logo designs, animation jobs, surf board art jobs or any form of illustrative design.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic and your own experiences. Please by all means feel free to share your thoughts in the below comments.


Zoolander - cartoon character design

The 2D cartoon character design I did based on Derek Zoolander. 2002.

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