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What's in a Logo?

What's in a Logo?

Does your nonprofit organization have an established and easily recognizable logo? If not, it may be time to consider what type of logo would best represent your brand. In our last post, we addressed the topic of effective branding for nonprofits. While branding encompasses far more than your organization's logo, your logo should certainly be central to all branding efforts. So what's in a great logo? Here are a few key qualities of effective logo design:

1. Effective logos are simple.
When creating a graphic that will be used to identify your organization and in effect, your cause, it needs to be both simple and versatile. A simple design will be easily understood at first glance, and it will be quickly recognizable at any size. If your logo is cluttered with unnecessary elements and effects, it may be difficult to decipher when shrunk down to a smaller size. If you have a sketch or mockup in mind, consider what it would look like on a billboard as well as on a business card. Is it easily recognizable in both applications?

It's also important to test your logo out in black and white as well as the inverse, using a white version of your logo against a dark background. The inverse will allow you to see how your logo could look on a variety of applications where the background may not always be white, while a black and white version will help you determine if your logo will be just as effective on photocopies and flyers.

2. Effective logos are timeless.
If your logo is going to withstand the test of time, you'll need to steer clear of trendy design fads that come and go. While your design needs to be relevant to today's audience, you should also think about how well it will be received 10, 20 or even 30 years from now. With no way of knowing exactly which design trends will be popular down the road, it's a good idea to stick with a classic typeface instead of using a decorative font.

3. Effective logos use appropriate fonts and colors.
When it comes to fonts and color, you'll want to consider the implications of each. Typefaces can be strong and firm or dainty and whimsical, and colors can communicate a variety of moods and ideas. For example, if you look around, you'll notice that blue is often used to depict corporate logos, while green is often used by environmentally friendly companies or organizations. The color red often communicates power and energy, while yellow suggests optimism. If you look at typefaces, you'll notice they can evoke emotion too. For example, serif fonts are often used in the names of law offices, communicating seriousness, longevity and sophistication, while script fonts represent elegance, and are often seen on invitations to weddings or other formal events.

4. Effective logos are well researched.
In order to come up with the best logo possible for your organization, it's important to do your homework. You'll want to start out by learning everything there is to know about your cause as well as the ideals of your organization. Think about your brand and how you could best represent it from a graphical perspective. By looking around at photos and logos of other similar organizations and causes, you can learn more about the work that's being done with respect to your cause, and you can gather some inspiration regarding your design.

5. Effective logos are unique.
Once you've looked around at similar organizations and causes, and you have a firm grasp of your own organization's vision and goals, you're ready to start designing. While it's a good idea to look around for inspiration, your logo needs to be just as unique as your organization. So be sure to let your creativity flow, and design something that is uniquely yours. 

How about your organization? Do you have a strong logo and branding strategy? Have you recently come up with something new? Let us know in the comments below.

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