5 Important Elements When Designing A Logo

Logos are ingrained in our minds much more than we may think. Most people could be presented with the logos of top brands like Nike, Apple, FedEx and many others, and know immediately what they are. So to say that logos are important for building a successful brand is a bit of an understatement. A great logo sets the tone for your company. Yet more importantly, it helps you create that all important brand, what your company is all about; the culture, attitude, and everything else that makes a business unique.

As a graphic designer, you need to understand that. When a company comes to you looking for a logo for their business, they are actually asking you to help them create their brand. You want to create a strong logo that will help a company build their ideal brand that will last them for years. To help you do that, below are 5 elements you should remember when designing a logo.

1) Keep It Simple

One thing all great logos have in common is that they are simple. Think about Nike and you think about the swoosh. Think about Apple and you will, of course, think about the famous apple with a section cut out of it. You want it to be easily recognizable and easy to remember for someone that perhaps just sees the logo for a split second.

2) Memorable

This may seem a little harder to create but you want to create a logo that is easily remembered by people that see it. Think of McDonald’s and the golden arches or Starbucks and the Greek siren that is part of their logo. You want people to be able to recognize the logo easily and yet still stand out from other logos out there.

3) Timeless

Businesses want a logo that will last for years, perhaps even decades, so you don’t want to design a logo that is too trendy and will be out of style in a few years. Go with timeless design elements. A great example would be A&W Root Beer, as their logo hasn’t changed in more than 40 years.

4) Target Audience In Mind

When designing a great logo, it should also be created to reach the target audience of the company. If it’s a logo for an upscale clothing line, you would not want to create a logo like Toys r Us. It’s not representing what the brand is all about. One is trying to portray elegance and fashion, while the other is saying this is the best place in the world for kids.

5) Keep It Versatile

You want a logo to be all the things listed above while also being versatile in the way they can be used. This means that all the elements would still be recognizable even if the colors were inverted or changed a bit. A great example again of this is the Nike swoosh, it wouldn’t matter if the swoosh was white, red, or blue, as you would still recognize what brand it’s representing.


4 Business Card Trends That You Should Know

Business cards are still one of the best ways to showcase your name and/or company, but the days of just having a simple white business card with your information on it and that being enough are long gone. In this day and age, you want to stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways to do that is through a unique business card: something that portrays what your brand is all about. And let me be clear – whether you are representing a person or company, you are always presenting your brand.

I get many people that come to me wanting business cards and I like to be able to create a unique design for them that will help elevate their brand to the next level. There are 4 business card design trends that you should be aware of that will help you design unique and effective business card designs that will have your clients jumping for joy and giving you referrals all over town.

1) Think Vertical

Traditional business cards are horizontal and are roughly 2”x3.” Just because that’s what has always been done doesn’t mean that’s how it always has to be. A great way to stand out is to simply make the business card vertical. This conveys a unique perspective and stands out from other business cards out there just by the way the text is on the card.

2) Be Double-Sided

Instead of just designing business cards with one side of print on them, utilize both sides of the business card. A great way to do that is to use one side to showcase the information needed, things like name, number, etc, and the backside to display the brand in a vivid and imaginative way.

3) Use Unique Sizes

Traditional business cards are 2”x3,” which means that buisness cards can get lost in the shuffle when someone has many on their desk or in a pile. One way to stand out is to simply design business cards that are larger than the traditional sizes. By doing this, the card that is thrown into a pile will always stand out because it’ll stick out and will draw the eye of the person who has it.

4) Unique Materials

If the ultimate goal of the business and or business card is to stand out from the crowd in a crowded industry, then a great way to do that is to create business cards that are printed onto unique materials other than just paper cardstock. You can get very inventive with this as I’ve seen business cards that are metal, clear plastic, very thick cardstock and even made to resemble a credit card. This does make the cost of the business cards go up, but if you’re working with a company that is really trying to stand out and present themselves as a top line company, then this is a great way to stand out and create a great first impression. This method works great with the 3rd trend in this article, which is to also use unique sizes of business cards with different printing materials.

The Right Tools – Why They’re Important for a Graphic Designer

As a graphic designer, I really can’t stress enough the importance of getting the right tools for the job. You might think that the tools that you are using right now are enough, but trust me there will come a time when you need to upgrade not only the tools that you use, but your internal “tool” as well.

When I was just starting out as a novice graphic designer, I got a second-hand desktop computer when the original owner wanted to get a better one. The guy was a professional graphic designer and he and I became good friends because I’d help him out with some of his projects. Of course, the pay was not that good, but it’s something that I can use for daily spending. When I managed to save some money, I decided to buy his computer so I could replace the one that I have. Back in the day, I thought that it was good enough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

His computer was not exactly what I thought it would be. I only realized a few days later after the purchase that the reason why he sold his old computer is because he wanted an upgrade. What I basically got was not a superior machine, but a hand-me-down. I basically suffered because of my impulsive judgment. I couldn’t get a good opportunity as a graphic artist because my tools weren’t good enough.

That happened ten years ago. Now that I’m a little older (I’d like to think that I am a little wiser), I want to impart a few words of the wise to those young hopefuls out there:

1. Never buy second-hand computers and graphic tablets – Unless you have budget constraints, you should buy a brand new computer, graphic tablet, and any other tool you would use. Sure, you might save a few dollars by buying second-hand stuff, but just think of the problems you’ll get because the stuff you bought didn’t work well. Again, the reason why the owners are selling them cheap is because they’re too old and no one would bother buying them at their original price.

2. Internet connection is everything – You may have the best tools for the trade, but if your Internet connection is extremely slow and unreliable, then don’t expect clients to give you work. Back in the day, I got a residential plan for my Internet connection because I thought this would help me save some money. However, problems started to arrive when I can’t send huge files because my data plan is not that powerful. Now I’m running on Broaconnect.com high speed business internet and believe me, the investment is worth it.

3. Accept criticism and advice – Finally, be prepared to accept advice and criticism, especially from professional graphic designers. Back then, I got hurt whenever a top graphic designer would criticize my work. Years later, I realized that criticism actually helps on improving one’s skills. So always listen whenever your superiors give you important advice.

A Rice Cooker Logo and a Paddleboard Logo

Simple and memorable are two words you can use to describe a good logo, whether it is a text logo (like this one on a site about paddleboarding and surfing) or a mixed text and image logo (like this one on a rice cooker review site). You won’t even want to look at the web page, brochure, or company report if the logo is unprofessional in it’s complexity. At the very least you will feel that something is off about an organization if its logo is uninteresting or weird.

To make a really good logo that is complex is much more difficult than making one that is simple and professional. The more elements there are to any visual the more difficult it is to make all those elements harmonize. With a simple logo like the one on the train in the picture accompanying this post there is no problem with balancing and harmonizing different parts of the logo or different colors in the logo. The CN is one shape and one color. It is striking, memorable, and long-lasting. The CN logo was created in 1960 and has not changed at all since then. Perhaps that is another word we can use to describe a good logo: long-lasting. If an organization feels no need to change a logo, even if it is a conservative organization like CN, then we can rest assured that the logo is good quality and doing its job.

So we don’t expect our two logos from small websites about rice cookers and paddleboards to attain to the high quality of the CN logo but are they good? Are they good enough? The logo for the paddleboard and surfing site is simple and recognizable. It is perhaps not memorable but it looks professional. The text kerning is good and the font color is somewhat variable; it looks like the logo creator took an outline of the text and selected a water image to fill in the letters. On the page itself the logo looks a little lost in space, it might work to have a header background to keep the image company. Though the search field to the right does serve to balance the logo there is a lot of white space between the two. So we’ll give it a passing grade!

The logo for the rice cooker site is a little more complex than the surfer website’s. It incorporates a cartoon-like graphic element as well as two colours of text. It is still a good logo in that it shows the website visitor that the site is at least somewhat professional. The text colours harmonize with the colours of the cartoon rice cooker. The text colours for “rice cooker goodness” are a little faint, or put another way are lacking in punch. Something is needed to make the text stand out more — perhaps a stronger drop shadow?

At any rate whether you are trying to design your own logo or are finding a designer to do a logo for you two important things to remember are simple and memorable.

SEO Practices for the Mobile Web

It’s actually funny how many web designers fail to see the importance in not just designing an SEO friendly website, but a website that is friendly for mobile and tablet users. Within the past few years, there has been a tremendous rise for searches on-the-go. So it’s more important today, than ever before, that SEO specialists not only prioritize traditional SEO practices, but mobile SEO practices.

How Search Engines Work

For the majority of search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, the indexing process consists of three components:

  • The Crawler: This is where the crawlers visit the website, and all the outbound links.
  • The Indexer: This stores the content found by the crawler in their databases.
  • The Query Processor: This processor matches the queries submitted by various internet users to relevant pages in the database.

The Traditional Way of SEO

The traditional way of SEO in the past was by focusing on desktop development and desktop website optimization. And for the majority of history, most internet users have browsed the web on desktop computers. However, this is beginning to change.

Mobile Specific SEO Design

Back in December, Google released a crawler called Googlebot-Mobile. This was a crawler which ran off the same Googlebot platform, but was geared specifically to mobile sites. And in April, 2015, Google started to roll out a new algorithm which would rank mobile websites separately from desktop sites.

Now, there is an increasing amount of mobile specific websites to cater specifically to mobile users and mobile search results. Many of these sites are set up on completely separate URLs such as domain.mobi or m.domain.com.

While this is great, it may pose the risk of getting penalized for duplicate content by having two websites with the same content. Separate pages may also dilute the link juice obtained from inbound links from other websites. However, there is another solution to having a mobile-friendly site.

Responsive Web Design and SEO

A responsive web design will save you from a duplicate content penalty. The way responsive designs work is by restructuring the web page so that it’s properly visible across a variety of devices online. So for example, when a page gets loaded on a mobile phone with a certain screen resolution, there are a certain set of instructions given to the phone’s browser on how to load and structure the page.

The biggest benefit of having a responsive design is that it protects you from the risk of a duplicate content penalty. It also allows you to focus all your efforts on one webpage, and it allows all the inbound links to go to one specific webpage as well. This means that all the authority from linking sites is not diluted between two duplicate pages of the site, but all concentrated onto one page.

However, if you must design a separate mobile website, it’s highly recommended that you ensure the content delivered on the mobile website is unique and different from that on the desktop site. This would protect you from future duplicate content penalties from search engines.

How To Design Your Site So Visitors Take Action

Designing a website that looks great is always something that us web designers strive to do. An aspect of web design that gets overlooked many times is conversion rate optimization, or, the art of getting visitors to take the action you want them to. This is something that is ever changing and different for various markets, but there are some common standards that you can apply to your websites that will help them be much more effective at users doing what you want them to do.

What’s The Goal Of The Site?

You should already know this before designing a site, but there needs to be at least one main action that the user is encouraged to make while visiting the site. This varies from industry to industry, but you don’t want to leave the visitor guessing what they should do. If you want them to join your mailing list, ask them to do so. If you want them to purchase product, then show them products and make it easy for them to buy them from you. A site that does this very well is a site by Vibranium SEO (you can click here to see their site). They make it crystal clear what they want a visitor to do once they’re there. You can find out more about them by clicking the links above.

Go Where The Users Go

There are some statistics out there about how long the average visitor will stay on a website. Again, some of this varies depending on which industry you are in, but the jist of it is that you better grab the visitors attention QUICKLY. Most visitors tend to gravitate towards images and pages that are broken up by headlines and bullet points. Don’t bury what you’ve got to say in a long drawn out paragraph because it’ll never get seen. Put important things right after headlines and around images that will draw the attention of the visitor. Stats also show that visitors simply don’t read what’s in the sidebar on the right or left side of a site. Avoid putting something important there because it won’t be seen as much as it will in the middle of the screen surrounded by images and headlines.

Don’t Be Shy

Many find this part to be pushy or sleazy, but if you want a website visitor to take a certain action, then you must ask them to take that action. If you want them to join your newsletter, then say, “Join our newsletter by clicking here,” or “Sign up now for updates.” You don’t want people on the site having to guess at what they should do. Of course, a few visitors may not need as much focused direction, but a majority do. You don’t have to be over pushy about the intentions or goals of your site. Tell or ask the user to do something. Most will do it and you will see an increase in that action when you implement this tactic. This is especially true when it comes to social sharing, where the stats show that when users are asked to share the article or site on their social networks, they are 65% more likely to do it than they would if you didn’t ask. So the moral here is don’t be shy.

These are a few tips that you can use to help create websites that are more engaging and give you what you are looking for when designing a site. But do research for whatever market you are designing a site for, as some markets do better with some tactics than others. Always be experimenting and finding new ways to help make your sites optimized for what you want them to do.

Top Factors to Consider When Making a Mobile Website

It is acknowledged that any business that wants to be a leader in the industry within which it operates must have a website. Basically, a good website will not only help attract customers, but also showcase all manner of products and services you are selling. Note that a good web design will determine whether your visitors will leave a message or turn away to other sites.

This means that you shouldn’t compromise on the quality of design, coding, and anything to do with color and text placement. That said, there is a dynamic shift on how people are searching the internet, with statistics showing that a good number are using their mobile devices. It is for this reason that you should create a mobile site to enhance your visibility in search engines when mobile devices are used.

You should contract a web designer who understands what it really entails when it comes to creating a mobile site. Do not just pick on any designer, but go for those who are experienced and offer services worth every dollar spent. For instance, your preferred designer must understand that mobile users prefer function over form. Remember, almost all mobile users will want their needs addressed first before anything else. If you can get this right, the better it is for you.

It is also crucial to know that performance is key to your mobile site becoming popular with users in any specific industry. If your site performance is great, it is likely that your visitor number will increase within a short period of time. Also, ensure that the designer is ready to keep it simple, as a complex mobile design will make visitors go to a competitor’s site that offers similar services or products that you are selling.

A mobile design that is able to define your brand from the word go will always be attractive to visitors. It takes a long time to build a strong brand in any market no matter the industry you operate within. However, when you use the correct strategy you can decrease that amount of time. Another thing that’s important is to optimize your site so that you can enjoy the benefits of being visible. As a matter of fact, an inexperienced web designer will help you understand the do’s and don’t’s of the process.

There is a sometimes a significant difference between a desktop and mobile site. You need to see to it that your designer does not offer you want you do not need for your business. If you really want to be on the safer side, ensure that your mobile site designer is licensed. In this way, you will avoid being entangled in unending court battles that might cost you time and money.

The best thing is that with a mobile site you are able to showcase and offer just about anything that can be sold. You can use the site to sell financial advice, write about your professional services, use it as gaming platform, as well as entertain the masses. If you are thinking about offering real estate services, a mobile site will come in handy. Some of my friends that own the apartments at ALB LLC have benefited immensely by the use of mobile sites created by experts. They have reported increased visitors and opt-ins to their email lists.

The Best Shoe Brand Logo In The World

One of my favorite assignments is when I am asked to design a logo. A logo should be simple, but memorable. It needs to be timeless, but still modern. It represents a company as an image, but also portrays an image.

The biggest problem for designers is meeting so many different requirements with one little symbol or a custom font. Huge amounts of time and money have been wasted designing and redesigning logos, when the most obvious answer to the problem is normally simplicity.

In this article I take a look at the best shoe brand logo design in history and break down why I believe it’s so popular.

Nike Swoosh Logo

If you Google “Nike logo” you will instantly notice a range of different images of the “swoosh” or “Nike tick” as some people call it. Two magic elements are very striking: the first is you don’t even need the brand name to instantly recognize it’s the Nike logo. It took Nike over 20 years to realize “the swoosh” didn’t need the company name in bold font sitting on top.

In 1995 Nike stopped using the company name in the logo and pushed forward with just “the tick.” Just think about how insane that sounds: A company logo, without the company name! There aren’t many logos so powerful that you can simply do that, and in my opinion, this demonstrates how amazing “the swoosh” logo truly is.

The second awesome ability this logo possesses is you can see it in any color, but it’s still highly recognizable as the Nike logo. Even the big brands struggle with this type of logo diversity. There are many arguments to this ability and even some moderate success with color change. Take McDonald’s, for example. Traditionally red and yellow, who would have thought it would be so bold as to try and go green?

I think McDonald’s will live to regret this mass brand change and at some point return to everything red and yellow, but with Nike you could make “the swoosh” all the colors of the rainbow and it would still be instantly identifiable as the brand Nike.

It also makes me smile when I see that the Nike logo even has its own Wikipedia entry. That in itself may not be that impressive, but the story behind the logo is quite interesting. The logo was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University.

BRS wanted to launch its own brand of football boots called the “NIKE” and simply asked the student to submit some logo designs. The company execs didn’t think much of “the swoosh” at first, but decided to use it on their first set of Nike products. Feedback was very positive and they decided to stick with it.

The most amazing part of this story is Carolyn Davidson was originally only paid $35 for the design. Further down the line she was compensated and is now part of graphic design folklore (forever).


Web Design For Fitness Sites

When it comes to ideal clients to design websites for many different industries come to mind, the least of which is designing fitness websites. This is mainly due to the fact that there isn’t much you can do that hasn’t already be done with a fitness site, for me that’s the part that just isn’t very appealing to me. But more than likely you will be approached at some point to design a website for someone in this industry and you can still design a good looking website with some general rules that work well in this industry.

Keep It Simple

One thing to keep in mind when designing a fitness site is to keep it simple. Years ago fitness sites were overloaded with tons of images, flash videos and a lot more annoying things. Along with the fact that things like this slow sites down it also didn’t highlight the information the site was trying to show. A great example of this is themusclereview.com, it has a clean design and keeps it simple while showing the information the visitor is interested in.

Use Strong Colors

One of the best ways to really make the design of a fitness site pop for the visitor by using strong colors. This makes sense because fitness is about being strong and the right colors demonstrate this to the visitor. Usually red or blue works well in this industry but you may not be able to make this call depending on the client but if you have a chance to design everything from the ground up it’s a good idea to stick to this color scheme.

Use Images Sparingly

Sometimes fitness sites can be overloaded with images as designers usually think that users want to have visual proof of what they want to look like so they put pictures all over the site. Pictures are great but only if they are used in the right places and used with good white space on the site. Too many images then people will stop even paying attention to the images but if images are used more sparingly then it will draw the attention of the visitors better. You can see a good example of this by clicking here.

Tell A Story

You may not think that fitness sites can tell much of a story but fitness is an important activity that can lengthen one’s life and make their life more fulfilling. You should demonstrate this story to the visitor in a unique way, usually in whatever way the client is trying to tell this story. Anyone in the fitness industry whether it’s a personal trainer, a gym or anything else is telling a story. Its your job to find out what that story is and help them tell it through the design and overall theme of the site.

None of these tips are anything groundbreaking but they are solid tips that I’ve used numerous times and have always had great success in this industry. I’ve known many designers that don’t take on fitness clients because they feel they can’t do the kind of work they really want to do. It doesn’t have to be that way though because it’s a great opportunity to broaden your work expertise and you may find yourself a very successful niche while your at it.

The Mobile Revolution Is Here

For years, we have been hearing about how the internet is being used more and more by mobile users on devices like smartphones or tablets. We’ve been told how it’s increasing more and more and how by the year (insert some future date), the majority of users will access the internet via a mobile device. Well, I’m here to tell you that the mobile revolution is here. It’s already upon us.

New data shows us that mobile users account for 40% of the internet traffic out there… yes, you read that right, 40%. That is almost half of all internet traffic. If the trend continues, it will eventually be more than half of all internet users will be accessing the web from a mobile device. So if you aren’t designing websites with mobile users in mind, then you are sorely missing a huge segment of the market by not doing so.

I’m shocked by how many websites I come across still that are not equipped to be viewed on a mobile device. There really is no excuse for this as it’s easier than ever to make any website responsive. If you are unfamiliar with what responsive web design means, it’s just when the way the site is displayed is dependent on the size of the screen it’s being viewed on. If you are an experienced web, then every website you design will have some element of mobile responsiveness to it.

The fact that we have increased web traffic coming from mobile devices is a big thing, but you may be asking, “What are they doing on their mobile devices?” If they are just surfing the web and browsing but not buying things, then that may not be something you are ultimately concerned about if you design ecommerce sites. But alas, we also know that people are not only using the web from their mobile devices more and more, but they are also buying things online from their mobile devices at an increased tick of about 30%.

So we know that people are using the web more from mobile devices and buying things from their mobile devices. This means the mobile revolution you’ve been hearing about is upon us folks. This also means you should start shifting your design strategies from the big screen to the small screen. This means you want to keep content short and to the point because we know that people, in general, have short attention spans. So once you have their attention, you better make the most of it. You can do this along with short and simple content, but also with the use of images that are optimized for mobile devices, sites that load quickly on mobile devices, the use of icons is more important than ever.

If you implement all these design elements going forward into 2015, you will be well on your way to being ahead of the curve and standing out from other web designers out there. Staying trendy and current is vital for making your site appeal to users.