My 7 Design Essentials for logo, brand and website design

My 7 Design Essentials for logo, brand & web design | MNFL Design

Have you ever seen or designed a logo that somehow seemed off? Or have you seen a presentation or a flyer that just wasn’t talking to you but it was not the content?  

Well most likely there was something missing or not quite right from these seven design essentials that I always follow.

Whenever I design a brand or any branded material, especially when I am not quite happy but don’t know why, I always sit back and check my design against these seven design essentials and whether or not I have followed them.

And when you design your own logo or you have a brand guidelines and design your own branded marketing material you should also follow the same routine and check your design going through this list of seven design essentials. 

Design essential number 1: Less is More

I know there are so many great fonts and lovely colors out there. You have some really nice brand colors in your brand style guide which you all like and really want to use for all your marketing material. And you want to incorporate all your ideas in your head into your logo or your presentation. BUT remember don't over complicate it, keep it simple and focus. Less is always more!

A simple design is always more attractive than an over complicated and cluttered one. Graphic design is about communication. And if you over communicate, your main message will get lost. Focus on the main message you want to bring across and you want the consumer’s or reader’s eye to focus on. Keep it simple to be memorable!

Here are a few great examples of less is more ads.

Design essentials | Less is more | MNFL Design
Design essentials | Less is more | MNFL Design
Design Essential | Less is more | MNFL Design
Design Essential | Less is more | MNFL Design


 

Design Essential number 2: Know your Target Customer

I can not stress it enough, in order to design your logo or brand as well as your website you need to know your target customer! You need to have him or her in mind all the time. Your brand and website is not about you and what you like but about your customers and what they like and are attracted to. You might like a certain color or font but will it actually speak to the customer you want to attract?

So sit down and take some notes and may be even interview your ideal customer about his or her needs, problems, daily routines, their work, their family, their age, their interests and anything you need to know about them in order to target him or her better.

And when you design your brand and website have all these notes in mind! Even later when you launch a new product or service remind yourself of this list and double check whether it is a good product for your target customer. I could go on about this because so many of my clients struggle with this, but I will leave it here for now. And if want to read more about it, check out my recent blog post about defining your ideal customer here. You can also find a free checklist in there.

Design Essential number 3: Stick to Maximum two Fonts for a Logo

For a logo you should stick to one or maximum two fonts of different weights. Otherwise it is too much for the eye to process and the logo gets over complicated.
Overall for a brand you should stick to a maximum of three fonts. For example you can use one font for headings, one for subheadings and the third for body text. Or you can use one font for headings, one for body text and subheadings and one more elaborate font for any text that you want to put an emphasis on, for example buttons on a website or descriptions on a picture. And by saying this I mean also one font in three different thicknesses. If you have one font and you use it bold, normal and cursive, that is three fonts for me.

I read once that choosing too many fonts and changing them up all the time is like showing someone a whole photo album at once instead of giving the person time to look at each photograph separately. And that is very true. Too many different fonts make it confusing for a person and they don’t know where to look first, just like with showing too many photos at once. This is also part of another design essential but I can’t stress this enough: stick to the chosen fonts throughout your whole branded communication!! Don’t just use other fonts because you like them that day, it is confusing and you will be less recognizable.


Design Essential number 4: Use Negative Space

Don’t be afraid of negative space! Using negative space can be great and an unexpected turn in a logo or mark design. Some of the most successful logo designs are simply the perfect mixtures of shapes, typography and negative space. So consider if it's possible for your logo. Or are you using it already?

When you google images on logos using negative space there are a lot coming up. But here I want to show you a few famous ones and some that are great example of negative space in a logo:

The FedEx logo is probably one of the most famous ones and has won lots of design awards. It contains the arrow between the E and the X using negative space.

The FedEx logo is probably one of the most famous ones and has won lots of design awards. It contains the arrow between the E and the X using negative space.

Another well known logo using negative space with the peacock in the middle.

Another well known logo using negative space with the peacock in the middle.

I have known this logo of WWF forever I think and it is so simple and impactful which makes is memorable and it always stands out.

I have known this logo of WWF forever I think and it is so simple and impactful which makes is memorable and it always stands out.

Another very old brand that uses negative space: the chocolate Toblerone. The mountain is the Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in the alps. And inside you can see a bear which is the symbol of Bern, the capital of Switzerland and the city in which the chocolate was originally produced and comes from. By the way, Toblerone even uses the unique shape of it's chocolate, a triangle, for brand purposes and recognition.

Another very old brand that uses negative space: the chocolate Toblerone. The mountain is the Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in the alps. And inside you can see a bear which is the symbol of Bern, the capital of Switzerland and the city in which the chocolate was originally produced and comes from. By the way, Toblerone even uses the unique shape of it's chocolate, a triangle, for brand purposes and recognition.

This logo of a German zoo on Cologne is also a nice way of using negative space.

This logo of a German zoo on Cologne is also a nice way of using negative space.

Design Essential number 5: Use White Space

Besides negative space, white spice is just as important!

Whenever you design something remember to use space. Leave space around your logo, headings and on your website to let them make their impression. Don't try to fill the whole space and use every corner on a flyer, a presentation or on your website. Again less is more and use white space to make the information you show more powerful. Let the eye focus on the most important things. Too much information can be overpowering and distracting.

Here are some good examples of how to make a message more powerful when using white space versus not using it.

Here the words take up a lot of the white space and are actually less impactful than on the right picture.

Here the words take up a lot of the white space and are actually less impactful than on the right picture.

Versus:

This is a nice composition and it shows how white space should be used.

This is a nice composition and it shows how white space should be used.

In this example the text is too big for the picture.

In this example the text is too big for the picture.

Here you can see good usage of white space, it is simple and the most important message comes across easily.

Here you can see good usage of white space, it is simple and the most important message comes across easily.

Design Essential number 6: Balance

Balance means the equal distribution of weight, color, texture and space. It actually combines all my other design essentials. They all interlace really and there is no real order in importance. But balance is so important for everything. Just because you like a lot of colors or you bought a lot of fonts or you love using negative space or you are an artist and you have created beautiful textures for backgrounds, does not mean you should use them all at once and all the time.

Keep a balance of everything! This is true for your logo, for your branding, for your social media marketing, for presentations, for your website and actually also for life.

Just because you can do something in design doesn't mean you should!

Design Essential number 7: Stay Consistent

I have written about this many times and I feel like I'm talking about it constantly but I can't stress this enough: stay consistent with the way you use your brand and your message.

Always use the same logo, use the same fonts, use the same colors, use the same style of photographs and use the same voice. Again don't switch around just because you like a certain color that day or you are in a certain mood.

Think about big brands like Apple or Starbucks, they are simple and always look the same and like that they are super recognizable.

Staying consistent over a long period of time will make sure people recognize your brand immediately. Your brand will always be associated with the same feeling and emotions. Your customers don't have to think about your brand, they subconsciously know this is you as soon as they see a brand element of you.

 

These are my seven design essentials and I hope they were useful for you!

  1. Less is more

  2. Know your target customer

  3. Stick to two fonts

  4. Use negative space

  5. Use white space

  6. Balance

  7. Stay consistent

Please feel free to tag anyone who might be interested or me ask any questions you might have!


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