How illustrative can a logo be?

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A question that a lot of clients ask is, how illustrative can a logo be before it becomes difficult to use it effectively.

My answer would: depends on where you intend to use the logo. If you are a traditional company then your most common usage of the logo would be on your corporate stationery, your collateral marketing materials, your shop/building signage and perhaps on packaging and merchandise.

Illustrative logos are made up of complex design elements, usually illustrations of some element related to what the company does, an illustration of the company name or perhaps even a mascot or character that is used to represent the company. Not all companies can afford to get an illustrative logo.

Depending on the industry sector the company is in and the target market segment, Illustrative logo designs can be highly effective. They can be eye-catching, communicate much more effectively the company message and create an overall greater impact of the brand.

For example, a music company, a construction company, a rock band, a child-related product or club, a fitness company etc are all good examples of companies that can benefit from having an illustrative logo. Combining different elements of the business in an illustrative way and using effective logo colors can help create an eye-catching design that can then be used in all branding campaigns.

A legal firm, a finance, accounting logo design or venture capital company etc, on the other hand, are examples of industry sectors where highly illustrative logo designs might not really work.

When creating an illustrative logo, we always try and come up with pencil sketches of two or more conceptual directions. Usually, again depending on the core philosophy of the company, we look for opportunities for creating characters that form part of the company logo, as well as be a stand-alone company mascot.

Finally, creating the illustrative logo designs in vector file format and making sure the files are as clean as possible in terms of paths and elements is important. Perhaps creating toned down versions with lesser colors would also be useful when the client wants to print the logo and wants to keep the costs down.