Do we speak the same language?
Good communication has always been the key to successful business relations. In the creative field this is more important than ever. If you have trouble understanding your designer or have trouble explaining your vision check out these basic terms graphic designers deal with on a daily basis. Knowledge of the basic terminology will help you verbalize your ideas and communicate them easily to your designer. The following list comprises of the most common things you will be discussing with your creative team, such as logotypes, fonts, colors, file formats, etc.
1. Types of logos
Logos are generally divided into several categories for convenience. These include
wordmark /text only/ – the name of the company serves as a logo
letterform mark – the logo includes the company initial/s
pictorial mark – the logo consists of both text and symbol
emblem – illustrative style, text and pictorial element cannot be used on their own.
Below you can see some of the most common types:
Deciding on a logo type can be quite easy, however discussing the initial options your designer has created might be tricky if you “speak a different language”. Most logos include elements that have various names. Here’s how designers percieve those:
2. The most widespread elements
Note that even though many famous brands use such elements in their logos, these are considered to be generic, hence, are overused. Many designers frankly dislike such “dynamic” elements like the “swoosh” and prefer not to use it.
There are all kinds of effects you can add to your design to make it more interesting. Even though effects have been quite popular lately, they are trendy which makes them generic and oversued as well. If you’re starting a business that will grow large in the next 10 years you would need a solid logo that does not go with the flow. Effects can be quite catchy and have that wow factor, but you have to be really careful with them if you don’t want your design to go on the cheap side. Some effects are a bit difficult to handle in print so be careful with that too.
Here’s the most common effects used in logo design
4. Font style
Fonts are divided into serveral categories according to the shape of the characters and the overall feel of the font.
Sans-serif fonts are modern, clean and highly legible fonts, suitable for almost every type of business.
Serif fonts are old-fashioned, more serious and classy, suitable for high-end businesses
Humanist fonts take the best from the two above – clean and legible, yet elegant and classy. Might be a bit whimsical sometimes.
Script fonts and handwritten fonts are suitable for “signature” logos /wordmarks, letterform marks/ as well as all kind of feminine businesses. They vary from elegant and classy to whimsical, childish and corky.
Note that whatever font you may choose, its main purpose is to be legible. Designers tend to spend a lot of time selecting “the right” font, so we suggest you trust them.
It’s important to know that most quality fonts are commercial and some of them are quite expensive. They cannot be distributed freely and your designer cannot send you the font. If he has picked a special font for your brand, you will have to buy the font in order to use it on materials /maybe not the whole family, but 1 or 2 – say Bold or Italic versions/ and buy a license in order to use it on your website.
5. Kerning vs. Tracking
When it comes to discussing the font, there are a two essential things you have to think about: Does it suit the character of your company? and Is it legible? Once you have decided on these, here come the small details, namely, the spacing between characters. There are two types of spacing bewteen characters – tracking and kerning. Tracking is the space between all the characters and it is a standard function in graphic and text editing programs . The tracking option is used mainly for taglines or slogans and any text that is not primary. When it comes to the company name though /the wordmark/ tracking is just not good enough. Fonts are away from perfect, which means that the word requires manual setting of the space between characters to make it visually balanced. The manual setting of the space between every two characters in a word is called kerning and it’s essential for a strong wordmark logo.
Color is one of the main elements of your brand which makes it highly recognizable. There are 3 main color systems that you will come across when working with a graphic designer:
CMYK /Cyan Magenta Yellow Black/ is the standard 4-color print scheme used around the world. Each of the four colors has a certain number used to identify the exact amount of color. All print houses work with CMYK so if you get your file in that range, you’re fine.
Pantone or Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. The Pantone system releases different print catalogues in order to show the colors on different paper types. Pantone (spot color) printing is more expensive than CMYK but it assures a precise color reproduction. Note that the Pantone range is smaller that the CMYK and the RGB.
RGB /Red Green Blue/ – The main purpose of the RGB color model is for the sensing, representation and display of images in electronic systems, such as televisions and computers. If you’re releasing a web application you’ll need your design with RGB colors since they are brigther. Note that RGB colors are NOT suitable for printing.
Bottom line, upon receiving your final files, you will need the design in both RGB and CMYK/Pantone versions. You will also need the values/exact numbers/ of colors in each of the 3 systems.
Another thing you may find a bit tricky is the color shade. Saying “Blue” is no longer enough – there’s light blue, baby blue, sky blue, cyan, turquoise, navy blue, royal blue, indigo…etc. The easiest way is to actually show your designer what you mean by “blue”.
There are many color picker websites you can use to choose the perfect color palette for your brand:
Most of these use the #HEX numbering /combination of letters and numbers to show the exact color/. All you need to do is copy the signature of the color you like and send it to your designer.
7. The types of files you’ll need
These are the basic files you will need in order to handle your logo without calling your designer every two days. All printing houses will require a vector file for printing, epsecially if you’re printing big. Vector files contain all the artwork information and are irrelevant of resolution. They can also be altered according to your preferences. Raster images like JPG and PNG formats can be used on all sorts of applications but are not quite suitable for printing. Note that you will need a high resolution files in order to have a good image. Do not stretch the raster images since they become pixelated and vague. You can open the eps. file in Photoshop, fill in the resolution/size needed and then save the file as a jpg/png.
In case you do not have a graphic program such as Adobe Illustrator, In Design, Corel Draw, Freehand, etc. you can use a web service to check if everything’s ok with your file. It’s normal that the image is fuzzy, this only shows that there’s artwork in the file and it’s not corrupted.
8. What not to do
There are certain requests that have become notorious and a source of irritation among the design community. They are the point of tension between designers and clients and have often led to disappointment to both sides.
Here’s the most hated ones:
1. Can you make the logo bigger
The logo doesn’t need to be big in order to be easy to spot or remember. A small stylish logo surrounded by a lot of white space is way more impactful that a logo that stretches throughout your website header.
2. Can you make the logo pop
Of course they can, the question is – is it appropriate, will it make the design look cheap and frivolous, will it make it uglier?
3. Add more structure
What does that even mean? It’s important to bear in mind that the designer is not in your head, he cannot guess what you have in mind. The more detailed description you give, the better he’ll understand. Visual examples are designers’ favourites.
4. Can you add our phone numbers, fax, 3 e-mails and the company mission statement. It kinda looks empty now.
One of the most common arguments is based on the usage of white space. Truth is the more white space, the more minimal the design – the more high-end experience of the brand. White space is not scary, it’s elegant, creates a sense of transparency and focuses the customers’ attention on the significant elements. You do not need to add all of your company info and services on the stationery materials. Customers are proactive – if they’re interested in your company, they will come to your website or your office to learn more about you. Let them make the first step, do not impose tons of useless information they will neglect.
5. Mixing corporate and whimsical elements
Adding all kinds of illustrations, cute photos, banners and ribbons to your corporate design is not a good idea. If you’re striving towards a serious, respectable brand, your identity must reflect it. Using the so-called “emotionizers” /babies, puppies, kittens, holding hands/ has the opposite of the desired effect.
6. Can you make it a 3D
Are you a 3D film production company? Are you a high-tech company for gaming software? If not, you’d better stick to classic 2D logos.