Rob Marsh

2 More Things to Avoid with Your Logo

A few days ago, we wrote about three things you should never include in your logo. You can read that entry here. Of course, there are more than three things to avoid when you are working on your logo. Here are two more:

#1 Avoid using too many colors in your logo. When it comes to helping your customers remember your company and visual identity, simplicity is the key. The best brands choose a single color (in some cases two) to represent their business. Coke uses red—and only red. It’s not likely you’ll ever see a blue Coca-cola logo (but Pepsi uses blue). Prudential Financial uses blue. Starbucks uses green. And all of these brands have a version of their logo in black and white that is just as recognizable as the color version.

Over time, colors help customers easily recognize brands. We read color and shape before we read the information in those shapes, so your brain recognizes a Coke can before you can even read the name printed on it. Your logo deserves no less.

In addition, if you ever need to embroider your logo onto a uniform, promotional give-away, or materials in a retail store or office, having a logo with just one or two colors will help make it possible. Gradients and multiple colors make it far more difficult and in some cases impossible to create these products. The same is true if you need to print your logo in a small area, a simple one color logo will make the job much easier.

#2 Avoid using too many fonts in your logo. How many is too many? In most cases, two fonts would be too many. Once again, it’s all about creating a simple mark and avoiding anything that can make reading it more confusing or complex. Unless you have a very compelling reason to do otherwise, one font should be enough for your logo. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, make your mark as simple as possible. Choose fonts that are easily readable and represent what your company stands for.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. There are logos that effectively use more than one color—the discontinued rainbow Apple logo is an example. (Although Apple had a single color version to use when necessary, which has since become their “official” logo.) And there are logos that effectively use more than one font, but usually one font is the mark, and the second font is a simple descriptor to help give context to the mark.

Bottom line: keep it simple.

Read about more things to avoid when creating your logo, here.

Rob Marsh

Another Demo—The Joker and LOST?

Watching a designer work can be a lot of fun—as we demonstrated here and here (go ahead and click the links, it’s worth it and we can wait).  So why not do it again?  This time we did a mash-up using some reference photos of Heath Ledger’s Joker in jail from the most recent Batman movie and Benjamin Linus from LOST. The result is, well, interesting…



Let us know what you think. And if you need a logo or help with a brochure, website or other design project, why not check out the designers featured on the home page of Or create your own logo design at

Rob Marsh
Filed under Award Winners, Workspace.

The Wall of Fame

Today’s entry is simply a couple of photos of the awards wall here at the office. Any time one of our designers is recognized with an industry award or is featured in a design book like Logo Lounge, we hang the winning logo on the wall with a certificate noting the award. Over the past couple of years, we’ve collected quite a few (some are just a little crooked at the moment)…



Each individual plaque looks like this:



The wall is long—and we’ve got more awards to hang in the available space, when we get a little time. In the mean time, congratulations to all of the talented designers here at our design shop.

Rob Marsh

Icons or Logotype?

The vast majority of logo projects we get ask for an icon as part of the logo. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. There are plenty of successful organizations with iconic logos—Nike, Apple, Major League Baseball, and AT&T, to name just four.

But there’s another option when it comes to your logo, the wordmark or logotype. There are plenty of successful companies that use this kind of logo as well: IBM, Fedex, Exxon, Disney and Microsoft.

So why do so many entrepreneurs ask for icons rather than wordmarks? I’m not sure I have a good answer for that question, except maybe people are trained to think of logos as images or pictures, rather than words. (This is true of both iconic logos and logotypes—we see them as pictures.) So, when customers think about logos, they literally think of icons and ask for them, rather than having the designer try to do something unique with the type.

In addition to iconic logos, our designers have come up with some pretty amazing logotypes. Here are two of my favorites from our archive. The first was a concept we presented to Sonoma Vinegar Works that makes use of colors and shapes to communicate the idea of grapes. I love this logo:

The second is for a small start-up down the street called Needle. Given the track record of the founders, it’s pretty likely you’ll be hearing more from them in the future.



Both of these logos include hidden elements (though not that hidden) and strong font choices, demonstrating that when they are done right, a logotype can be every bit as effective as an iconic logo—maybe more so. Something to consider if you’re thinking about creating a new logo for your organization.

The Recycle Symbol: Can You Use It In a Logo?

This issue came up recently when working with a customer that does roof insulating. He wanted to communicate that he uses only recycled materials, and wanted a recycling symbol in his logo. I provided him with concepts that included some circular arrow designs, keeping it abstract, because I was reluctant to use the actual symbol. It somehow felt dirty to me to use such a commonly known symbol in his branding. I feel the same way about the dollar sign (which they also wanted, but I convinced them otherwise).

Turns out, I didn’t need to be too worried. The recycling symbol is in the public domain, which means its available for anyone to use freely for any purpose. It is not trademarked. Local laws may restrict its use if its used deceptively, but otherwise its fair game to use in a logo.

I still try not to use it, because I don’t really like the way it looks incorporated into my design. I much prefer to use my own variation of it. But if the customer really has to have it, I’ll incorporate it. What do you guys think?

It’s always best to take the customer’s request, and get creative with it, so you’re not infringing on any copyright or going back to the same old design ideas. Clients want a graphic design company that will take their ideas and run with it!

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