We design logos on a regular basis and we have a few rules that we go by. Although sometimes, we end up outside our rules, for the most part, these are great guidelines to use when creating a logo.
1. Readable. There are literally thousands and thousands of fancy fonts that could get you distracted. Make sure when your logo is complete, you can read it, both up close and at a distance. You do not want it to become a blob.
2. Make it reflect your business. If you sell socks, make sure you can see that in your logo. Make your logo speak more than just the name of your business.
3. Make it easily read at 1 inch. If you reduce your logo to one inch, can you still read it? You would be surprised how much you need your logo that size. And I have seen several where there is a giant initial and the name of the business very small below it. When you reduce it, the name of the business disappears and you only have the giant symbol as an identifier.
4. Make sure it looks good on one color. I know, we live in a full-color world. But, realistically, you don't want to pay full color for everything. Are you going to pay for full color printing of pens, shirts, caps, and any other promotional items? No, you are only going to want to pay one set up fee for one color for your promo items. And your one color doesn't necessarily need to be black, but it should definitely look clean and clear in black.
5. No clip art. Illustrations are easy, there is no need to grab a piece of clip art that someone else is already using. If you desire a symbol, have your designer come up with something original.
6. Research your competition. Take a look at the trends in your industry for logo design and come up with something different. Don't do what everyone else is doing. Make your business stand out with something original. Hire a talented designer who can help you come up with something amazing.
7. Spend the damn money! This is a big one. Your logo will set the tone for all of your marketing. So invest in a good design. Work one on one with a designer. Explain what you're looking for and what makes your business special. A good designer will take your conversation and tune it into some rough ideas. Then you'll be able to move forward from there.
Also if you're designer doesn't get it on the first try, don't get frustrated. Talk it over and tell them what you like and dislike. Then have them come up with different ideas. Logos are a process than take time and consideration. You want to talk to people about it to get their perspective. It should take you at least a week or two to come up with something amazing. Some even take longer. We as designers want you to be happy with our ideas, however we also understand that not everyone thinks alike and sometimes we need to go back to the drawing board!