Some lines about LOGOS
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Some lines about logos

In my job, I work with a lot of library logos. Especially because, when possible , I design around the logo.  I don’t like to just create a template and stick a logo in it.  I like the rest of a design to reflect the aesthetics of the logo.  Which, I have found, creates a host of problems.  Often, the logo is poorly done or doesn’t act as a good representation of the library.  Sometimes these issues are simply because the logo is very old, but more often than not it’s because their was never much thought (or professional work) put into the logos in the first place.  I always encourage libraries to get a good logo before we even start the design process.  There’s no point in putting an old, awful logo on a spiffy new website.

I’ve seen all of these problems (and more).  While there are always exceptions to these, I bet you have seen them, too:

  • The logo is a literal representation of the library’s building (these are often hand-drawn, also)
  • The logo is too complex and has too many components trying to represent too many things
  • The logo actually belongs to the local school district
  • The logo is dated and/or uses icons of technology that dates quickly, such as CDs, etc
  • The logo might not be bad, but no clear electronic copy exists in high quality anywhere
  • There is no logo at all (although honestly, it’s easier to work with no logo than a bad one)

Hilde Torbjornsen, of the company FreelanceLogo, gives some clear advice on what makes a good logo.  Libraries should think carefully about whether or not their libraries’ logos have these characteristics.  (You can read the full article here.)

  1. It should fit your image and be relevant
  2. Something to remember, catches the eye
  3. Unique
  4. Simple yet smart
  5. Timeless
  6. Versatile
  7. A clear message
  8. Well-drawn
  9. Goes well with different backgrounds
  10. It scales to different sizes well
  11. Works in color and black & white

Something I should mention also:  designing logos is a graphic design specialty.  Many graphic artists claim to actually be able to do these (and I’m not one of them) but may actually not do very well at creating logos.  When you hire someone to do a logo, be sure to look at his/her portfolio and see if they’ve done logos–and if the logos they have created meet the criteria, above.

In my experience, there is no real substitute for a well-done, professional logo.  Your logo identifies your library EVERYWHERE in print, on signage, and online.  Don’t skimp.  This is one area where your library can truly benefit with some money well-spent.