By Aisling McCarthy

A logo is the very first thing customers notice about your brand, making it necessary to stand out from others. What are the basic principles you like to stick to when creating a logo?

The first thing I like to check is a few practical basics:

  • The logo must work and be legible and effective really, really big (like on a billboard, because one day you are going to be that famous); 
  • The logo must work and be legible and effective really, really small (like on a Facebook icon); 
  • The logo must work and be legible and effective in black and white (like when photocopied) ... if it doesn't work visually in black and white, it's not going to work when you add a million colours and effects either; and
  • The logo should work reversed out (i.e. dark on a light background and vice versa) although there are a few design tricks to get around this one.

Brands like Nike, McDonalds and Mercedes Benz have timeless and iconic logos that everyone can recognise. How does a good or bad logo affect the brand?

Your logo is a large part of what creates your first impression. If it's crisp, clear and on point, that's the first feel your potential client gets about you.

Since logo design is so imperative to a brand’s success, what are the most common mistakes people make when designing a company logo?

There are a few, but most of them can be corrected by hiring a professional to design your logo for you. To save costs, small businesses sometimes want to design their logo themselves, rather than hiring a professional.

While this may be less expensive short term, the costs involved with fixing the design mistakes (from simply correcting size and format, to an entire rebrand, or to correct corporate identity errors) can be extremely expensive in the long run.

People tend to want to design their logo for themselves, according to their personal tastes - especially small businesses. Which is great if you're going to be your own customer, but not fantastic if you want to appeal to your target market (which may not be your personal demographic).

Or they use a designer, but don't take their advice. I think hiring a professional and then telling them what to do is a little like buying a dog and then sitting at the bottom of your garden, barking.

According to DesignBuddy’s analysis of the 2014 top brands, 34% of brands used the colour red and 32% used blue. What trends have you noticed in logos over the last few years?

I'm seeing a lot of influence from the various social media networks ... logos are getting simpler, cleaner, easier to read, more icon-like!

Are there any generic elements in a logo that brands should avoid using?

I recommend avoiding using photographs in logos. They seldom translate well into very large/small sizes (they tend to blur) and are a nightmare to try to convert for embroidery.

You also don't need to get too literal: there are no running shoes in the Nike logo.

My personal taste is to keep things clean and simple. Adding a ton of effects and colours very seldom fixes bad design.

Finally, do you have any tips for young, start-up companies who are brainstorming ideas for their logo?

Yes. Please. Please hire a professional. I'm begging you from the bottom of my little designer heart.

When you brief your designer, however, it's a good idea to have discussed and be very aware of who your audience is (age/gender/interests) as well as what tone you'd like to take when you're speaking to them.

Fun? Serious? Something else? That info, coupled with what your business does, should give them a lot to work with.

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