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02 October 2023

Three objectives for your logo design

You're starting a new freelance business. You're excited. You're motivated. You're — oh no. You need a logo! Where do you start?

Start here.

This article will be part of a series called How to Commission a Logo Design: a Guide for Non-Designers (working title).

Unless you're starting a graphic design business, you probably have little experience with project managing a new logo. This series aims to show you how to do that using straightforward logo design principles, so you end up with a logo that meets your needs.

Today, we're identifying your objectives, or goals, for your new freelance logo. There are only three of them.

“Fight against the ugliness” — Lella & Mossimo Vignelli

Your three logo design objectives: #

  1. Your logo fits neatly in a social media profile photo.
  2. Your logo's design holds up on a black and white invoice.
  3. Your logo can fit on a horizontal business card above a tagline.

That's it? That's it.

Should your logo look cool? Sure. Should it pop? Fine. But those metrics are hard to measure. This is “Three Objectives…” not “Three Subjectives…”

Also, don't get too caught up in whether or not you'll have a social media account or black-and-white invoices. These objectives are simply measures that are indicative of good design.

Let's take a closer look at the objectives: #

If your logo fits neatly on a social media profile photo, that means it looks good and is identifiable on a small scale. If it looks good small, that means your logo can adapt to different mediums.

This is important because your logo will appear in many places with varying sizes, from mobile websites to billboards (if we're lucky).

“Logos survive because they can adapt to countless formats.” — Sagi Haviv

If your logo retains its design on a black-and-white invoice, that means it can be used monochromatically. If your logo can be presented in just black or just white, it can identify your business in different mediums and contexts.

This is important because full color may not always be preferable or even an option. You need a design you can present in one color when necessary.

“Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance.” — Jon Franklin

If your logo can fit on a traditional business card above a tagline, that means a couple of things:

First, it means your logo is also horizontal, or you have a horizontal version of your logo (more on this tomorrow). If you have a horizontal logo (as opposed to stacked), that means your logo is easy to incorporate in various design grids.

This is important because often, marketing materials designate a space for your logo in a row, not a column. Think website navigation, flyer footers, and business cards.

Second, it means your logo doesn't have frivolous information baked into the design, like the year established or a catchphrase. If it doesn't have those things, it means your logo is symbolizing, not selling; punctuating, not speaking.

This is important because logos that attempt to inform or sell will lose all sorts of adaptability and scaling. Your logo won't be legible when small, and you'll find you have less control over your marketing messages.

On one side of your business card, you should have your logo front and center, with a one sentence description of your business. With a "tall" logo, you lose the ability to increase its size without the business card feeling crowded. With a logo that already includes a tagline, you lose control over the placement and sizing of the tagline.

You also may not need a tagline with your logo in some instances. You can always add one, but its hard to remove elements permenently set in your logo.

“A logo does not sell, it identifies.” — Paul Rand

The exception proves the rule #

I present this information and will continue offering future related tips in this series, as a matter of fact. Not because it's the only way to do things, but because I'm making two big assumptions.

One, your business doesn't require you to be famed logo designer Saul Bass; therefore, you have little experience with logo design. Two, you don't have a quarter million dollars in the budget for your brand identity. (If you do, please email me.)

And thats totally cool. You probably won't need logo design experience past your own project.

New freelancers sometimes get too caught up in their logo's design. They place too much or too little importance on its role, spend too much or too little money on a design that doesn't work for them, overlook filetypes they need, or one of countless other common pitfalls I've seen in my years of logo design project management.

This guide is a clear path to a successful logo project that will result in a versatile logo and get you through your first few years, at least.


label name
Plot freelance
Type series
Phase developing
Tags ,
Assumed audience freelancers