5 huge mistakes in Logo design you must avoid

Every designer has his own specific routine while working. However there are many designers out there who make some simple mistakes and completely alter the outcome of their work. Here are 5 most common mistakes, and how can you avoid them.

1. Don’t research before you start designing

Photo by Neil Conway, CC BY

Everybody in the world perceive things differently. Nobody sees one thing in the same way. If you follow only your first impressions about something and start building up upon that, you are most likely to make a mistake.

Lets say you’re doing a logo for e.g. an Italian restaurant, you will surely have a certain image in your head of what an Italian restaurant logo should look like. However that image might not be the best presentation of the restaurant. You need to go way deeper than your first impressions, and do your homework. Try to find out as much as you can about Italian restaurants in general, list 5 or more main competitors and carefully analyse them. See what is distinctive in their identities, what colors are they using and around what values are they building their identities. Than find out as many specifics about the restaurant you’re designing for. Is there anything different or special, something worth mentioning? Perhaps the history of the restaurant, tradition of the owners family or maybe something about the physical place of the restaurant could be relevant. Be creative. By all means avoid things like, we’re the best, we have the best pizza in town and similar, because no one is buying into that crap.

Find specifics, build around them and try to differentiate as much as possible from the competition.

 2. Begin the design process on the computer

Many designers make a big mistake when they begin working on developing their idea on the computer from the very beginning without doing a single sketch on paper. They open their software of choice and start working on first ideas. The bad points of this approach are numerous but the biggest one is the limitation of whatever graphic software you’re using. You have a certain workspace, certain tools you can use, and you have to use what’s offered to create something. Software’s are improving every day but no matter how smart the software is, it has certain limitations that could be deciding factors between failure and success in the long run.

Your only limitations when developing your idea on paper are in your mind.

New Hotel Brand Identity

Photo VFS Digital Design, CC BY

Like the great Milton Glaser said: ”Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking.”

Since i belong to the generation that grew up around computers i made this mistake many times. I thought that pen and paper are old school and that there was no point in doing anything manually. I remember back in my design high school during the first 3 years we had to create everything by hand. Posters, logos…etc. Needless to say you had to have sketches on paper before you started developing anything further. Since i knew my way around software i began designing on a computer and once I’ve finished the project i just draw down a couple of quick sketches on a paper to have something to show to the professors. I now know that wasn’t very bright. I thought it was a shortcut but actually i was cheating on myself.

When you have an idea in your head you need to transfer it on a paper in a form of a simple doodle. Once you draw it down you need to develop it further and before you know it, new ideas will begin to appear so that by the time you’re done, you’ll have tons of different ideas and variations. Your paper should be your playground, don’t be afraid of it. Draw something down, erase it, do it again, provoke yourself and most importantly, have fun. By the time you’re done you’ll have dozens of designs you can choose from.

You don’t have to be a Picasso do create a sketch you just need to think through, use your imagination and draw as many sketches as possible. This way you are most likely to end up with tons of new ideas that would have probably never come to your mind otherwise.

When you finish sketching, select the best options and transfer them on a computer where you will explore your options further.

3. Design in color.


logo construction

Once you have your sketch transferred on the computer, you want to begin working with forms. The next big mistake in the process many designers make is using colors from the beginning.

That can be very misleading. When you do that you simply cannot see things clearly. You want to work in black and white in order to see and feel the shapes, negative space and the balance. Color reduces the sense for that greatly. Depending on the logo, you’ll need to set your kerning, shrink your logo to a favicon size and perform other tests to make sure your logo will be visible and recognizable on various mediums and platforms.  Only when your logo looks good and solid, you can start playing with colors. Choose them wisely because they have a great effect on us, and on how we perceive a certain brand. Check more about color psychology in this post published on CreativeBlog.com.

4. Always be trendy


Photo by Meet the Chumbeques, CC BY

Dear client, flat ”hipster look” design is so hot right now, I think we should go with it and create a hipster logo.

This is a Big NO.

Always have in mind that Trends come and go. Your design should be solid and durable.

I’m not saying you should avoid flat hipster look in design or any other appearance for that matter, if that particular appeal suits and represent the company in the best way. Just make sure that the logo could withstand the test of time, because trends changes very fast, and you want the brand you’re building to last for a long time.

5. Copy other logos


Image by Logo thief

I know this is just common sense but there are many copies being made every day and this issue really needs to be addressed. Usually when you begin working on a project you are most likely going to google for logos in the same category. There will probably be some pretty good designs out there and it can be very tempting to take someones design, modify it and present it as your own. This is a huge mistake.

I know creating something completely original nowadays is close to impossible, but you must give your best. If you plan to be a professional designer for a long time you must develop your own ideas, that’s the point of being a designer. We get to create new, interesting and inspiring things. Copying someone will only ruin your reputation and the image of the brand you’re building. You can of course use any design you like as an inspiration and a reference point, but never copy.

If you haven’t already you will probably encounter a client requesting you to copy the some design he likes. This can be tough to deal with. You must try to propose new design ideas, and explain why creating something new is best for his business. If he still insist of copying someones design, its best to refuse working for him. Times may be rough, you may need every single dollar, but in the long run turning down a client like that (no matter how much you need the job) is the best option.

Reputation is like a mirror. Once you crack it, it can never go back. Not anytime soon at least.

I hope this advice are of value to you and hope they can help you progress to the next level and create your best work yet.

Share your thoughts or related experiences you had in the comments.

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Nik Ljubicic

Nik Ljubicic

Passionate Graphic designer, educator and blogger. Inspired by nature, beautiful design, blues music... Always seeking for ways to improve things, and make a positive impact.


  1. I’m so happy to see the first point about not copying and researching! One of the books said that there’s no such thing as originality, which I never agreed on because imagination can stretch as far as one could imagine! So when I saw this, I thought “yes! Finally we can depend on our imagination and intuition!” Thank you so much for the lovely article!

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