Rob Marsh

3 Things Your Logo Should Never Include

Last week we posted a note about what your logo should say. Because logos can’t possibly tell a customer everything about a product or business, you should choose a simple concept when you develop yours. You can read that post here.

There are a few things your logo should never include—and yet, we get requests from business owners almost every day to add these things anyway. So in the interest of helping you get the best logo for your business, here’s a simple list of things to leave out of your logo.

#1. The legal phrases Inc., Corp, LLP or LLC. We understand why some customers want to put these legal abbreviations in their logos. They just incorporated their business or formed their partnership. They are excited. Their business is now “for real”. And they want everyone to know it. (We even had one customer tell us his lawyer said he needed to include the LLC in his logo. The lawyer was wrong.) Before you do it, think about the familiar logos of successful companies you see every day. We would bet that none of them include these legal terms. Coca-cola or Pepsi? Nope. Ford or Mercedes? Again, no. Delta Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Avis Car Rentals? No, no, and no. Legal abbreviations are for legal documents and disclaimers in small print. They just mess up logos and confuse your customers. It’s best to leave them off.

#2. Tag lines. This one is a little tricky because so many people are used to seeing tag lines used with logos that they assume their logo must have one. The right tag line can help with your marketing if it’s used correctly. But it doesn’t belong in your logo. Tag lines change. And if you’ve included your tag line in your logo, you’ll need to update signs, business cards, and anything else you’ve printed with your logo, any time you change your tagline. And, adding elements like tag lines to a logo make them more complex and thus more difficult for your customers to remember. Again, think of the logos you see every day. Do they include tag lines? Almost never. Tag lines are for advertisements and marketing materials, not logos.

#3. Addresses, Phone Numbers, and Websites.  You might have just signed to ten-year lease on your location, and you have no plans to change your cell phone provider, but trust us, these things change more than you think. If your logo includes your phone number, you’ll have to update it some day. But more importantly, these elements just add clutter to your logo—and remember, the best logos represent a simple idea associated with your product or business. A logo that includes an icon, a business name, a tag line, a phone number, and a web address will look cluttered. The more your customer has to take in when he sees your logo, the less they will remember.

Rob Marsh

Thinking about Bicycles…

Each March, as it warms up and the snow melts, everyone around here gets a little stir crazy. And nothing cures the need to get out like a ride on a bike. Which got me thinking about some of the logos we’ve done for bicycle companies. We’ve done lots of logos for bike races, bike stores, and even a couple of bicycle makers. Here are a few to check out while you search for the tire pump and your padded bike shorts before you hit the road or trail…

First up in an enclosure we did for Gold Coast Bicycle Company. The client sent us a pretty specific drawing of what they wanted and we took a few revision rounds to clean it up and play with the fonts and colors. The result includes elements like the bike tire and spoke, but also imagery that hints at fun and a warm weather, beach location:



Not all bike companies want a logo that says fun. Others want to be taken more seriously. A bike manufacturer that makes bikes for serious cyclists might go for a look that’s a little more performance-oriented. This example makes use of shapes and color to convey the idea of speed while the torn “L” has a younger, x-games quality to it:



A second example of a bike manufacturer is both fun and performance-oriented. They make serious bikes, but most people who ride tandems don’t ride their bikes competitively. So the name indicates quality, while the icon splits the difference between performance and fun.



This last example of a bike store sells both road and mountain bikes and wanted a logo that would represent both parts of its business. We put together several options and in this composition, included a few things like the tire pattern and the sprocket wheel to give the enclosure a “bike” feel.



Whether you’re the slow-ride-through-the-neighborhood-on-a-cruiser type, or an avid cyclist who spends more money on her bike than her car, if you need a logo, we can help. Check out and put one of our designs to work for you.


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Filed under Fonts, Logos.

A Timeless Font like Papyrus

Note: This is the first post on the new blog by Paul, one of our talented designers, and the illustrator who did this

Ever since a client asked me to change the Helvetica font in her logo to “something more timeless like Papyrus”, I’ve been thinking about this. More timeless than Helvetica? I should be used to requests like this by now. After all, clients don’t always use terms like “timeless” the same way a designer does. It’s like asking to re-typeset a book, changing it from that new-fangled, flash-in-the pan Caslon font to something classic like Umbra. So I tried it…



I began seeing the world in a whole new light. What if all the logos that used Helvetica were “updated” to the font Papyrus? How would the world look?






American Airlines would have to change their entire website.







Better or worse? You decide.

Rob Marsh

Another Look at How It’s Done

Last week we posted a video that showed one of our designers (Paul) illustrating a character from the television show LOST. If you missed it, you can watch it here. LOST isn’t the only show our design team likes to watch. Another favorite is The Office. We gave another of our designers (this time it was Rob) an hour and some recording software and asked him to go wild. His subject is Schrute Farms, the number one beet-related agro-tourism destination in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Rob started with a sketch (this isn’t on camera, sorry), then transfers his drawing to the computer to clean it up, add color, and turn it into a logo. Here’s the result:



Timely, yet shameless, plug: if you’d like to put this kind of creativity and skill to work on your next design project, contact one of the designers featured on our home page at Or create your own logo design with

Rob Marsh

What Should Your Logo Say?

Every day we speak with dozens of small business owners who are looking for the right “look” for their business. Whether they need business cards, a website, a brochure, a presentation folder for a conference, or even a vehicle wrap, they want to make sure that the design they get communicates the right message.

As we talk, we often hear that a customer wants their logo to represent ALL of their services. A business owner who provides outsourced technical support, upon seeing her initial concepts, might say, “Well, sure, they’re great logos for a tech support company. But I also provide programming services. This logo doesn’t show any of that. And I sell computer components. Can we show some of those too? I want to make sure my customers know I can help them in more ways than one.” A bakery owner wants to show donuts, muffins, breadsticks, turn-overs, brownies, sandwiches and drinks, all in addition to a loaf of bread—just to make sure people know they can get more than bread at that location.

But “everything and the kitchen sink” is the wrong approach to logo design. Here’s why:

Think about the logos of successful companies. In most cases, their logos don’t picture their products (in fact, most don’t include any icon at all). They likely don’t even have a tag line in them. The Coca-cola logo doesn’t show a soft drink. The Barnes & Noble logo doesn’t show a book (or games, or movies, or CDs). The Starbucks logo does not feature a cup of coffee. The McDonald’s logo does not feature any food. But over time, these logos have come to represent all of these things, just by being associated with them.

There are exceptions to the rule. The Fox Broadcasting logo includes a search light—a holdover from the movie studio days. But note that they don’t include a television, a DVD, a movie screen, and a book—all products that Fox creates and sells. One icon is enough to represent all of the company’s products. The old UPS logo included a package, representing the major business that UPS is in. But it doesn’t include all the package sizes the company delivers. It didn’t represent all of the locations around the world the company delivers to. And it didn’t include all the ways UPS could deliver your package (by truck, by plane, etc.).

When you consider what you want for your logo, think about one simple idea that can be associated with the things you do. It may be an icon (like the Nike swoosh), or a letter (like the golden arches: M), or it may simply be a unique type treatment (like Virgin). Rather than asking your design team to include everything your company represents, ask them to focus on a single idea that will come to represent your company as it grows in the coming years.