Graphic design for engineers: the logo

I had a flick through a book called "The Non-Designer's Design Book (2nd Edition)" by Robin Williams, and it's a killer.

I like art. But writing about art, is normally just utter shite. And writing about commerical graphic design is even worse.

Robin's book however...

...really got me thinking. She demonstrates simple rules about layout, focussing on the principles of "Consistency, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity" [Spell it out...]. She also gives a lot of great info on fonts, the printing process, and the business of graphic design. The examples make all of her lessons very clear.

Since then, (and with help from various web-pages, listed at the foot of this page) I've come up with ten 'No-Nonsense' rules for designing a corporate logo.

If you want to look amateur, just break these rules.

Logo design rules

  1. Include the product (or business) name.
  2. Just one colour
  3. Works in black and white
  4. Still works at very small Sizes, and poor resolutions
  5. Legible
  6. Does not use a standard font
  7. Probably uses a sans-serif font
  8. Attention should be paid to kerning ('kerning' means fine-tuning the letter-spacing)
  9. Original
  10. Relevant (to target audience)

Keep these in mind as you look at professional logos around you. You'll be suprised at how rarely the rules are broken.

The second rule (Just one colour) can be broken, but it's an expensive rule. If you're feeling insane you can maybe go to two colours, or possibly a gradient. If you're a mega-nutcase with a death-wish, go ahead and use three colours. Beyond that, you've entered the realm of the schitzotropic drug-addled lunatic, and logo design is not for you.

All told, logo design (and commercial graphic design) is an extremely constrained field, better suited to programmers than artistes. If Van Gogh had been a commercial logo designer he would've chopped off more than just his ear.

Applying the rules to secretGeek, I was shocked to find I only score about four out of ten. I've spent some time seeing what can be done and I'll write about this if I get a chance.



My book "Choose Your First Product" is available now.

It gives you 4 easy steps to find and validate a humble product idea.

Learn more.

(By the way, I read every comment and often respond.)

Your comment, please?

Your Name
Your Url (optional)
Note: I may edit, reuse or delete your comment. Don't be mean.