Logo Design 101

Learn what to look for when picking a logo for your company or client

As a meeting planner, you’ve probably developed a good knack for design—décor, printed materials, exquisite displays. But when it comes to designing logos, whether for your own meeting-planner skills or on behalf of your client’s events, you might be stumped. Here’s what to keep in mind when working with a graphic designer, and in letting your inner design critic loose.

Working with a Designer

First things first: Yes, you should work with a designer—even if you have some drawing skills or know your way around Photoshop. Logo design is its own creature, and simply having a good eye doesn’t translate into the ability to create the best logo. But you don’t need to hire an expensive agency if your budget is limited, as freelance designers often work on a per-project basis and have reasonable rates. 

Once you’ve found a designer, give this person your trust. Give them the information they’ll need to do the job correctly and efficiently: intended audience, what application the logo will have (business cards? banners? both?), any existing graphic materials you have, budget, and deadline. Most important: what the logo should communicate. Enter your first meeting with your designer with a list of adjectives you or your client wants the logo to convey, and let the designer ask questions from there. Don’t be afraid to give too much information—the more info a creative mind has, the bigger the springboard. If you have a concrete idea, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a rough sketch, but know that your designer is likelier to use it as a conversation-starter than as a template for the final logo. 

After you’ve narrowed down your options for the final logo, create a focus group with friends and family and talk to them about which logos they like and why. Their outside eye can be helpful, but remember that they’re not the experts: Your designer is the expert in design, and you’re the expert in what the design is meant to amplify. 

Applying Your Own Eye to Logo Design

Let’s say that a client comes to you with their own logo, designed specifically for the event you’re planning, and wants your feedback. Here are a few key elements to keep in mind as you evaluate the design in front of you:

1. Simplicity

 The phrase “keep it simple, stupid” actually originated from the world of industrial design, and for good reason. People who aren’t designers tend to cram too much into a logo, which, more often than not, makes for a muddy, ineffective logo. The best logos instantly communicate the essence of the ideas behind them, without unnecessary flourishes that complicate the message. For examples of how simplicity can be effective, spend some time browsing app logos in your app store. Most of these rely on stripped-down imagery or a single letter to communicate their utility—even if you had no idea what Instagram was, you could look at its logo and deduce it had something to do with photography because it has a camera in its emblem. 

2. Application

If a logo is going to be used for, say, a single banner at a single event, that makes things easier. But most logos show up in a number of ways—brochures, banners, event websites, custom clothing, and even food, flowers and bespoke table settings. As you evaluate logos, consider whether they will be as effective at different sizes, in different mediums and at varying qualities. A logo that looks gorgeous when it’s 2 feet wide might be a mess when it’s shrunk down to half an inch. Also take color into consideration—a basic black-and-white logo can be printed from the most basic printer without losing any of its oomph, and color can always be added to create different versions of the same base logo.

3. Typeface

If your logo incorporates words or letters, carefully consider your font choices. (Take a look at this primer, which hinges on the oft-mocked Comic Sans font.) Design amateurs are prone to choosing fonts that visually appeal to them, not the font that works best for the logo. The wispy, ethereal Papyrus font might be lovely, but it’s inappropriate for most straightforward business applications, logos included. And even if a font has the right feel, it might not work logistically. The thin strokes of a lanky serif font might not print well for your intended purpose.