7 step guide to great logo design

Where’s the focus in your logo?

 

Here’s a short checklist on how to make yours better.

At An.X we have over two decades of experience in logo design and we’re often tasked with creating brands, or logos, for clients. So it’s a subject matter we spend a lot of time considering. It’s easy to design a logo with little thought and there are a lot of businesses out there offering lower and lower fees to do so. In fact there’s a US-based portal where you can have a logo designed for as little as $5. However, the quality of these designs matches the cost. There’s no easy route to a great logo and you get what you pay for. It’s by some degree more difficult to design a logo that will stand the test of time, help provide distinction for your brand and be the memorable icon you want it to be.

Your logo should be part of the story that your brand tells and so, there’s a whole host of questions that any competent branding agency should be asking you when you brief them to design or refresh the logo. But that’s another blog for another day. In the meantime, here’s a quick list of questions we constantly ask ourselves when working on logo design. This particular list* succinctly encapsulates the process we’ve been using for 20 years:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it relevant
  3. Design for ever
  4. Aim for distinction
  5. Make it memorable
  6. Work small
  7. Stay focussed

Many of these are self-explanatory but I’ll expand on a few. Relevancy is important for many reasons not least that there’s little point in designing a humourous logo for a funeral director. Every visual identity must stand the test of time so you and your agency should really avoid incorporating design styles that are trend led. Instead aiming for a design that will still be relevant, possibly with some small tweaks, a decade from now.

Being memorable is somewhat a function of being distinct. Often, a consumer will only have a moment to see your logo, perhaps as they pass by an advert in the street or scan through a Twitter feed. So, the design needs to work in that moment. Its shape may be the only element that the consumer sees. Does it communicate what you do? Focus is part of this question too. It’s better for a logo to do one thing well rather than trying to incorporate lots of ‘distinctive’ features. Finally, your logo needs to work at all sizes. We’re fully into the digital age now and logos are used across a huge range of traditional and digital media, often at very small sizes. Think Twitter or Facebook icon.

Take a look at your own logo(s) and ask these questions. Does it pass the test? If not, why not Contact Us to see how we can help you.

* The list is borrowed from a fantastic book on brand design by David Airey – Logo Design Love. Available here at Amazon

We would love your feedback on our blogs and we’re always open to suggestions for other topics that we may not have covered already. 

Why you need an optimised or mobile friendly website

Mobile optimised or mobile friendly?

 

I come across too many businesses that still don’t have a website and are relying solely on social media, which isn’t for everyone, and of those that do have websites most of them are not really making the best of them. You need to make sure your site is optimised and ready to deliver good results. Having a mobile friendly website is good but having a mobile optimised website is better.

The main difference is the design approach which then affects the user experience. A mobile friendly site is usually designed first for desktop and will work on mobile but may be missing some features. It’s effectively a slimmed down version of the desktop site. A mobile optimised site on the other hand is often design from a mobile first perspective and loses none of it’s functionality or user experience when viewed on either mobile or desktop.

Why should you care? According to an Ofcom study, reported widely in the Autumn of 2018, Britons check their mobiles on average every 12 minutes and are online for 24 hours each week! Almost everyone who uses the internet these days are using their mobile phones to search for your products or services. Around 40% of all eCommerce sales are happening using a mobile platform. To cap it all, as of October 2017, Google adopted a mobile-first policy so it is prioritising mobile over other platforms in terms of search results. The better your site is on mobile, the more likely it will rank higher in Google search.

Page Speed

This is yet another important factor as most people are so impatient and want everything instantly. Google revealed that people expect a website to load in just 2 to 3 seconds. 53% of people said that they would abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. So this doesn’t give you much time to grab and keep their attention!

Content Is King

Google does not like thin content, Search Engine Watch recommends more than 300 words per page to ensure a website can be indexed. If you want to rank higher on search engine results pages, it is important to make sure your content is long-form, informative and tonally right for your clients or customers.

 

Getting The User Experience Right

This is the most important factor to consider when designing your website, because if your visitors aren’t happy with the quality of your site they will leave without looking at your products or services and more than likely go to one of your competitors.

 

User Interface

Search engines are complicated beasts, they are no longer finding results base on exact word match keywords. They are looking at search history, geographic & demographic information and a whole lot more. Just because you technically optimise your site doesn’t mean it will perform as you want it to. It requires a more in-depth understanding of who your client base is to create content and an experience that is tailored for them. You need to consider developing one or more customer avatars to better understand their needs and wants. Then once you have this it will be easier to create a site that appeals to them.

 

 

We hope that you have found these hints & tips helpful and should you need help bringing your site up to date or have any questions please let me know, I am happy to help.

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How much should a logo cost?

We’re often asked how much does a logo design cost?

Logo’s are a critical aspect of all business’ marketing. As a company’s most prominent graphical representation, a logo anchors a company’s brand and becomes the single most visible manifestation of the company. It’s a big part of what we do here at An.X so, in the course of some general research, we found this article and found it really interesting that some of the worlds best known brands never actually paid a penny for the design of their logos! Pretty amazing really.

The designer that created the famous Nike swoosh for example was paid very little for the work.

It was good to read that Nike did eventually reward Carolyn Davidson, the designer of the most famous swoosh in the world. Back in 1971 she was paid just $35  for this iconic logo. Nike then went onto present her with a  beautiful ring and an undisclosed amount of shares in the company by way of a thank you some years later.

These days there are online services that offer to design a logo for your business at very low cost through a variety of means including outsourcing to far off countries with lower personnel overheads or through crowd sourcing methods. Whilst this may be the only viable option for a start up with little capital, we’d always advise more established companies that you speak directly to a design professional who can not only meet you face to face but, more importantly, actually guide you on what to brief them. Plus, they’ll properly interrogate that brief, asking searching questions about the values of your competition, your own business’ position in the marketplace and the target audience(s) you’re looking at.

Many of these agencies will have cool websites, loads of clients that they have worked with, some interesting portfolios or case studies to review. Some will be near by, some far away and all, of course, will promise that they can get the job done. So, what can you do to help you choose from this long list of design suppliers?

  •  Outline the project – what does it entail, what is its goal and what’s your budget?
  • Gather examples of designs you do and don’t like and give some thought as to why. This is especially important for those you do admire. What is it about them that reflects your business? Ideally you’ll be able to answer this from a customer’s perspective. Whilst your personal opinion is important, the one opinion that really counts is that of you customers.
  • Draw up your short list of agencies to speak to. Ideally a maximum of five. You can find them through Google of course, but personal recommendations from your own inner circle are much more valuable. Take a look at their website. Is it regularly updated? Are all of those clients listed genuine? What about the testimonials? Sadly, it’s all too easy to fool people by putting up logos of clients you never actually worked for or to fake testimonials. Any good agency will be more than willing to provide additional details and the chance to speak to current clients.
  • When you do come to make you decision about who to help you with that logo design do remember that, yes, you can get a logo designed for under £100. But the chances are that it will show and, more critically, its suitability for your business and audience will be more down to luck than professional judgment.

Here at An.X  we are logo design and branding specialists with more than 20 years experience in delivering design and marketing to a variety of different business sectors and we would be more than happy to discuss your requirements. 

We would love your feedback on whether you have tried these out and how they have worked for your business, we’re always open for other suggestions that we may not be utilising ourselves. Please feel free to contact us or read more of about our design services.

Why use an agency for video games packaging design and submissions?

An Insight into the UK Video Games Market

According to UKIE (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) the UK computer games market was worth a record £4.33bn in 2016, which is huge business for games publishers, large and small. All you need to know when it comes to Games Packaging & Submissions processes.

https://ukie.org.uk/press-release/2017/03/uk-games-market-worth-record-£433bn-2016

For those of you unfamiliar with the videogame industry, to safeguard and not to mislead the consumer, games publishers are required to adhere to strict regulations in relation to the game itself and the packaging it comes in. These guidelines are specified by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo (often referred to as 1st parties) and having been in the industry for almost 17 years, you could say I know a thing or two about games packaging templates and submissions.

So…. you’re a games publisher, have an amazing game you want to release and have all the relevant software and templates to create your packaging. You could create all the packaging yourself, right? How hard can it be? Well…. you’d be surprised. Over the years I’ve found that the templates change on a fairly regular basis, as new features are added and old features are customised. Familiarising yourself with said templates and the process of submitting artwork to 1st parties is a bit of an art form; one we have fine-tuned and perfected over many years.

Now, the question you might ask yourself is, why should I get an agency to create the packaging for me and do the submissions on my behalf? The short answer would be because we know what we are doing! Good working relationships take time to develop and nurture; so much so that we were recommended recently to publisher by a 1st party to help them with their artwork and submissions. This is high praise indeed, as it shows we are not only adhering tightly to the specifications supplied but delivering the best quality artwork and processes that can be expected, making 1st party’s job just that little bit smoother and easier.

Over the years I have seen publishers and games consoles come and go but the constant has always been the rigorous approvals process the packaging goes through. All elements of the packaging has to be approved by 1st parties before you can manufacture the game, print the packaging and release your game to the consumer.

In a nutshell –  Games Packaging & Submissions process:

  1. Using the templates supplied by 1st parties the English sku/packaging is set up, including disc or cartridge labels
  2. All elements then go through approvals with the publisher – they will check copyrights are correct, their publisher logo is in place, the correct age rating has been used, barcode, product codes and any other relevant information
  3. Once approved by the publisher these elements are then submitted to 1st parties for checking and feedback – this is usually in line with when the game code goes into testing with 1st parties
  4. While this process is happening all other language skus should be set up
  5. Feedback from 1st parties usually takes a few days and once received, any amends should be made and the relevant elements resubmitted
  6. All feedback to the English sku should then be applied to all other language skus and approved by the publisher
  7. Once 1st parties have approved the English sku, all other languages can then be submitted
  8. In theory, if you have done all the amends correctly across all languages, these should all pass first time, in theory! (Don’t you just love theories?)
  9. If by chance you do get feedback, amends should be made and the relevant elements resubmitted to 1st parties
  10. By the end of this process all elements will be approved by both 1st parties and the publisher and can be sent to print

While all the packaging is being approved, the code for the game itself will be going through approvals with 1st parties and age rating boards to make sure it is in a fit state to be released to the consumer.

As you can see, the process above is fairly straightforward but if you are new to the games industry and not familiar with the systems it can be quite daunting learning the various submissions processes for each 1st party. This is where we come in – we are already an approved agency for these systems and processes, so why not give us a call or drop us an email and see how we can help you and your projects – you’ll be glad you did!

To see examples of our games packaging design and submissions work, take a look at the Aliens Colonial Marines and Castlevania Lords of Shadow case studies. If you want any help with games packaging design or guidance relating to videogame submissions just have a chat with us, we’d be happy to help.

Thanks for reading – Jayshree Mistry.

Find out more about the people behind An.X.

Make my logo bigger!

How well does your company logo stand up?

How unique and distinctive is your company logo? There are a two simple tests you do yourself to see how it stands up to scrutiny.

  • One of the best tests you can do as a business is to strip your logo right back to the basics, be it to the graphic symbol or just the typeface itself, then take out all the colour. Would it still be recognisable? Will your current and potential customers know it’s still you? If not, it’s over reliant on the colour itself or the overall combination of elements. It’s inevitable that your logo will need to be printed in black and white or grayscale at some point. It needs to perform as well in that situation as well as it does in others.
  • Most logos are a combination of some kind of symbol and type or name. Simply prints yours and a few of your competitors out. Cut out the symbol from each one and swap them around. Now, do these new combinations look better or worse with another company’s symbol attached to them? If it looks worse then, great you’re probably on track to having a good solid logo. If the new combo adds nothing or improves things then, well, your logo is probably not up to scratch and could benefit from a proper review.

Journalist Chris Gibson wrote an excellent summary on the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Exchange website here:  logos-size-doesn-t-matter. I love this article, as I feel it really reflects on how most businesses these days look at logo design.

Moving past original creation, here at An.X we are asked pretty regularly “should I refresh the logo that I have had for the past X years?”. In most cases we would say YES! At the very least you need to take an objective look at how your logo stands up against any relevant competitors. It’s unlikely that they haven’t at least refreshed their design or created a brand new logo and visual identity in the years they’ve been in business. The world moves on, trends change and so do consumer tastes. We are happy to review our clients’ logos. Most of the time it could be just a small tweak that’s needed rather than a full re-design. Thankfully we have an in-house Chartered Marketer Jon, and Eddie the Creative Director who are more than willing to offer sensible and cost effective advice on what steps you could take.

Head over to our contact page if you would like to talk to us about how we can help your company be remembered and make your business stand out.

We would love your feedback on our blogs and we’re always open for other suggestions for topics that we may not have covered already.