Hand with stylus drawing on a tablet with the text Part Two
Archives Why your library’s logo might be terrible: Things to consider BEFORE the logo is approved

Why your library’s logo might be terrible: Things to consider BEFORE the logo is approved

If your library has decided to create a new logo, here are some basic things to consider during the design process.

**SEE PART ONE HERE**

If your library’s logo isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to, or looks dated or unprofessional, it might be time to consider a new one. A new logo is not something that any organization should undertake lightly.  Even if it is a terrible logo, there’s still going to be some brand recognition associated with it, and it will require some additional marketing to introduce the new version to the community.  If your library has decided to create a new one, here are some basic things to consider during the design process.

  • Does the designer specialize in logos? Years ago, a graphic designer told me that she didn’t do logos. It’s a niche specialty that not every designer can do well. Look at samples a designer has already done before signing a contract. By the same token, if you’re having someone in-house do it…you probably shouldn’t, unless you have someone on staff with a portfolio of logo designs already. Keep in mind that the final logo will be the symbol of your library–EVERYWHERE.  Don’t skimp. As library people, we know very well that people judge books by their covers…and people judge organizations by their logos.
  • Is it identifiable at 60 mph? That logo is likely going to be on bookmobiles, vans and car magnets.  Is it clearly distinguishable and readable at highway speeds?
  • Is it too many colors? While I personally enjoy logos with more than one or two colors, I recognize that this can be a costly decision when it comes to printing library materials and swag.  That 8-color logo could become pretty pricey when it comes time to pay set up fees on tote bags.
  • Is it recognizable without color? A well-designed logo should be identifiable when printed in only one color, black and white and greyscale.
  • Is it simple? That line drawing of the library’s building from the 1960s almost certainly doesn’t qualify. Logos should not have lots of line detail. A building rendering is not the same thing as a logo. Too many fonts and/or too many elements also clutter up a design and make it harder to identify.
  • Is it adaptable? Will it work on the website, the bookmobile, the signage, the letterhead and the pens? A good logo will not look strange in any of these (or other) places.
  • Is it unique? For a presentation I did a couple of years ago, I set out to find as many library logos that had some version of abstract flipping pages as a component. I found more than I could fit on one slide.  Individually, these logos generally looked good and clearly had been done by professionals. As a group, the similarities were disturbing.
  • Does it include a book? Frankly, I’m hoping the answer will be “no.” Here’s the thing: libraries often complain that the public only associates them with books, when libraries do so much more. And then, libraries stick a book in their logos. This isn’t helping the perception issue. Logos do not have to be literal.

In the last part of this series, I’ll talk about some dos and don’ts that libraries can use as guidelines.

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