The best frying pan in the World is pretty unwieldy if it doesn’t have a handle. Your logo, while it is fantastic, can be more effective by employing some relatively simple tactics.
A logo’s worst enemy is non-uniformity and inconsistency. Being one of the main functions of a logo, recognizability is key. To create repeat recognition we need to employ unwavering consistency. We see off-brand logos all the time that risk being unrecognized or worse: reflecting poorly on the brand.
When your logo design is not used as you intend it, the brand is subject to its usage. Consider the LeCreuset logo.
As a brand that is known for being consistently good quality, would their logo speak to this? If they can’t get a graphic right, how do we trust that their products are what they say they are? We make these unconscious decisions about everything in our daily lives all the time.
You can avoid the risk of obscurity and misinterpreted brand promise by employing consistency. We’ve got 3 ways that we find are most common in logo application that is less than ideal.
Blurry or Pixelated Logos
Why does my logo look pixelated? The issue is using the wrong format for the job. Pixelation occurs when the image you are using is too small for where it is being applied. Images have fixed dimensions with limited information.
Think of it like cookie dough. There is only so far that you can roll and stretch it before it starts to break. There is only so much dough to work with. Images are the same, only instead of dough we are talking about resolution—information. Rolled out dough can be rolled out thick at a smaller size or thin to its maximum size. Never can the dough get rolled out larger unless we add more dough. Images can go smaller but never larger unless there is more information to work with.
An image will become pixelated when we try to fill an area with it that is too large for it to stretch to. It starts to break so it can reach the far corners of the intended space. The catch is that it will take more dough to print an image than it will to show online. So while an image will look great on screen, when it prints it will need to be stretched far thinner and can break. The difference is screen resolution is typically 72dpi (more with Retina displays) and print resolution is 300dpi. Each medium requires a different amount of information.
It’s starting to sound technical, isn’t it? Fortunately, we are talking about images, i.e. photographs(.JPG, .GIF, .PNG, .TIFF). For logo design this problem has been solved. Instead of a photograph your logo should be in what we call a vector format. These are files that have come from Illustrator, PaintShop Pro, or Inkscape for example. Photoshop is fundamentally not the tool for the job. It produces cookie dough type formats that are limited.
You are looking for file extensions like .EPS, .AI, or even .PDF if need be. Instead of cookie dough, the vector format is more like gold that can be rolled out to 0.18 micron foil and span great distances. Actually, the vector format is even better than gold—it has no limit of how far it can stretch! This means you can use it anywhere, be it a menu or a 20ft vinyl truck wrap, and it will look sharp, just as you intended.
Use vector formats for logos. Print PDF files can take vector files natively, but web may not always be the case. Development in the .SVG format may work, but if need be, from your chosen vector based program, export a .JPG or .PNG that is at least the pixel dimensions you require. It will come out crisp like a cookie every time.
You know, I’m starting to consider baking with all this dough talk.
Stretched or Squished Logos
Stretched or squished logo designs make a business look unprofessional. A company that doesn’t uphold the integrity of its own image does not inspire confidence. It also is very inconsistent.
I love gingerbread cookies, let’s say that I have made the dough and cut out all of my ginger people. They are all nice and uniform and distinctly gingerbread people. I’m going to pack them up in different boxes once they are baked and give them as little gifts. The problem is, my boxes are all different shapes. Some are long and narrow and others tall and thin, but I want them all to fill the size of the box as much as possible.
The only way to do that is to roll some of my cookies out so they look like tall basketball players or tubby Santa Clause’s. These are the only ways they will fill their respective boxes as much as possible. Normally I use a very distinct shape cutter that others can recognize as mine. When a giftee receives their little box of cookies there's a chance they won’t even know I baked them. This is because they look like either Big Country or Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor.
On the web or on a printed piece you will have similar issues with box size. There will be different shapes and sizes your logo design needs to fit into. If you stretch and or squish a logo you will both risk recognizability and breakage. When you start rolling out that dough too thin in one direction, body parts might start breaking off.
The solution is using different size cutters with the same proportion. You will always be limited by either width or height or both if your logo is perfectly square or round. Whichever dimension is most limiting, size your logo to match while maintaining proportion. In most graphics programs this is signified by a little chain button beside the dimensions field. This means they are connected. Or if you are stretching with the mouse, often holding shift will maintain proportion. Doing this means your logo may not fill the tall thin box in both height and width, but it will be at maximum size for one dimension. It will not break and it will be recognizable even though it is a different size.
You have made an investment into developing a logo. Either you’ve hired or done it yourself, but this logo has value. It is your quick communication piece that will make customers remember your business or be drawn to it.
A properly designed logo will be a visual representation of your brand promise. The more people you can communicate that to the better off you will be. The 2011 census tells us there are at least 2.4 Million people you can reach in the Greater Vancouver area (I’m assuming the pending census results will be even greater).
Applying your logo everywhere (tastefully) is in your best interest. I’m not saying tattoo it to the foreheads of your wait staff or littering the city unnecessarily. Be creative and think about the best opportunities for recognition.
There are a few musts. Logos should always appear on your menu, sign outside, and website. Likewise it should be used across your social media platforms. It can be used on your uniforms if it makes sense for your restaurant concept. High end eateries may want to avoid this, where a quick service place may find a benefit.
Where I have seen the most missed opportunity is dish ware or anything food will be presented on or near. These days everyone seems to be a foodie on Instagram or Twitter. Your food is the star of the show but it’s doing you no good if you get zero recognition for it. What if just behind your beautiful pizza there was a well placed logo on the plate or serving board? Instagram photos are getting hundreds of likes because we like to eat—tell us where we can get the food that looks so mouth watering. It’s the cheapest marketing you can do and hundreds if not thousands of people are doing the work for you.
And there you have it. Use your logo often at the right size and shape every time. This will make your logo more memorable and business more talked about.
Now I’m going to go bake those cookies…
What other ways can you make your logo more effective?