An Illustrated Guide - Does your logo suck? - How to identify good and bad logo design

So you’re thinking about a new logo, ey? If you’re not the artistic type it can be hard to differentiate what’s good and not good design.

Maybe you’re considering hiring a designer. How do you know if the designer you’re hiring is good or not?

Well, there are basic design principles and across the board faux-pas that you can look out for when deciding if a designer’s portfolio is noteworthy or not, and if your logo sucks and could use an update.

Here are seven examples of common logo design mistakes that you should be sure to avoid.

1. Unbalanced or off-center

  • Take a look at the design below. The diamond shape is just SLIGHTLY too far left. In design, the details are crucial, so train your eyes to look closely at the work when deciding if this is a designer you want to work with or not.

Exception to the rule: There are sometimes intentional reasons to off-center something. Sometimes a designer needs to “optically” balance something which means that sometimes the negative and positive space created by the design causes the eye to see it as off-center. In these cases, the design will be optically centered in order to correct that.


2. Too many fonts

Logo designs should use one or MAYBE two fonts at most. The goal of a logo is simplicity and too many fonts is a sure way to add unnecessary complexity to a design.

In the design below on the left, there are three fonts used. Doesn’t the logo on the right with one font just look more unified?


3. Too many colors

Again, logo designs should be simple. It is essential for your logo to be able to function beautifully with color AND as simple black and white.

In the logo on the left, if you made the text and the palm tree black, you wouldn’t be able to read the text. This makes this a weak design and not versatile.

If you took away the colors in your logo design - would it still be a strong mark?


4. Too many tricks/ornaments

When a designer first learns design software, it can be really temping to use every trick in the book (usually to cover up a structurally bad design). If a design includes excessive shadow, gradient, text outline, this is usually a dead giveaway of an amateur designer. The most sophisticated designs are also the most simple. (Are you seeing a trend here?)


5. No hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is important and it’s the designers job to use hierarchy to guide the viewer’s eye through the work.

At first glance, the design on the left probably doesn’t look too bad. However, when you compare it with the design on the right, we can see a clear difference. The design on the right utilizes hierarchy to clearly lead the eye to read from top to bottom making it a much stronger design.


6. Pixelated images

If you’re looking through a designer’s portfolio and there are pixelated images on their website, that’s a huge red flag. There is no reason a designer should have pixelated images of their work on their website. Period.


I hope you found this post helpful and you now have a little more confidence when deciding if your logo could use an update and which designer to hire.


Hey, I’m Shelby!

I am passionate about helping businesses build their legacy through beautiful, impactful branding.

I work with businesses big and small on projects from digital to print. I specialize in logo design, branding, and hand lettered identity marks. My services also include print and web design services.

When I’m not designing, you can find this former dancer in down-ward dog, or sipping a chai latte at the local coffee shop (probably not at the same time). My weekends are spent doing home-improvement projects with my handy husband, Zak, or road tripping in our self-converted Sprinter van.

Contact me through the button below so we can get started building a brand that will win hearts.

Shelby Smeltzer