5 Critical Logo Mistakes You Can Learn From to Make Better Designs

by Alabaweh Baweh -

The logo is a consumer's introduction to a new business. It's what we remember when we walk away, and how we recognize the business when we see it again. That's why it's our job as designers to make sure we get the logo right. Unfortunately, some businesses have ended up with terrible logos. Here's our list of the top 5 logo design fails:


Too Abstract

The London 2012 Olympic games logo was a mess. It featured brightly colored, zigzag shapes that seemed to float aimlessly. The biggest problem with this logo was that it was just too abstract. We don't know what to make of it. While it can be tempting to be "artsy" or to develop something completely new, if people look at your logo and have no idea what to make of it, you haven't done your job as a designer. To avoid the mistakes of the London 2012 Olympics, follow these key guidelines:

Focus your design. Simple is best. Decide what's most important about the business you're working with. What's the message they want to convey? Choose only one or two things to focus on so that your logo doesn't end up too busy. You don't have to tell the public everything there is to know about this company in one logo- only the most important thing.

Choose a design that's original, but not so original that people can't identify it. For example, a flower in a florist logo should look like a flower, not a squiggly blob shape that we can't make out or understand.

Avoid cliches. In your quest to find a logo that people will understand, be careful to avoid cliches. While using a lightbulb to convey "ideas" is something anyone will be able to pick up on, it's not original enough and won't set your company apart from the thousands of other idea companies on the market.

It can be a delicate process, choosing a design that's original, but not too abstract or too cliche. But, it can be done.


Bad Color Choices

The logo for EndRun has a classic problem- ugly colors. It features blue, red and green, which isn't necessarily a bad choice in itself, but the shades they chose are too bright and just end up clashing with each other. Color can be a difficult aspect of designing a logo. The wrong color choice can alter how the public sees your company. Here are some tips to help get the color right on your logo:

Study the elements of color and how to choose good color combinations. Take a look at our guide for understanding color in logos.

Start with a black and white design. Then, once you have a strong logo shape, you can begin playing around with color.

Avoid using too many colors in one design and make sure the color compliments the design, not distracts from it.


Too Many Fonts

Fonts are an important aspect of logo design. They tell us almost as much as the actual words do. The logo for Hudson Internal Medicine uses three separate fonts, and it's confusing to look at. These guidelines will help you avoid a similar mistake:

A logo should have a maximum of two fonts. Any more and it becomes too much.

Don't choose a font simply because you like it. Take some time to consider what the font is saying about the business, and find one that accurately represents your company.

Be careful not to use any font that's too thin or too bulky.

Start with a few fonts you think might work, and then try each, narrowing it down until you find the perfect one.


Using Initials

This example logo from Shutterstock makes a classic mistake, using initials. While using a company's initials seems like an easy solution, it's hard to really convey a message with just a couple of letters. The letters B and Q tell us nothing about the company or what it does. This could be a real estate firm or it could be a clothing company. We have no idea. And while I realize this image was pre-made to fit into any business, that's the problem right there. You never want a pre-made or generic logo. A logo should be a one of a kind piece of artwork that tells us about the company we are considering doing business with.

Another issue with using initials, you shouldn't shorten the company name. You might be thinking of major companies like IMB that use initials, but these companies didn't start out being known that way. It took years of them being around the public with major marketing techniques before people started shortening the name. A brand new company that isn't well known to the public shouldn't start out with a nickname.

To avoid this, simply use the full company name in the logo. At the very least, write the full name under the monogram, if you're really set on using initials.


Embarrassing Double Meanings

You may have seen this one because it's been all over the web. A kid's clothing exchange store, called Kids Exchange, forgot to use a space in their logo with disastrous consequences. But, this is a good reminder of both the importance of spacing, but also of being aware of double meanings. If you Google, "Bad Logos" you will come up with all kinds of examples of companies that didn't realize their logo had a second meaning to what they were intending. So how do you avoid this?

Take some space from your work. After doing the design, put it aside for a little while. Come back to it at a later time when it's not so fresh in your mind. This can help you look at it from another perspective, and you'll be more likely to catch any double meaning you may have missed before.

Get outside opinions. Ask others to take a look at the logo and tell you what they see. You may be surprised at their response. When doing this though, don't take it too far. You won't be able to please everyone. Ask others what they think to avoid any hidden double meanings, but don't expect every single person to absolutely love it. No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to design a logo that every person on earth adores.


Designing a logo can be a stressful and complicated process. Hopefully we've given you some ideas to make the process a little easier. You may also be interested in our blog post, What Makes A Good Logo: Learn From The Best.