Using a grid system seems to be one of the hottest recent ‘trends’ in designing logos, but in reality, grid systems have been used in print publications for centuries. Newspaper and magazines have utilised various grid systems with great effect in highlighting the most important elements of a page. Website designers have been using grids for quite a while and the process has also muscled in on the logo design industry.
The question is: Do you need to use grids to create the best logos? In this article, I will look at the pros and cons of using geometric guides for your logo designs and analyse if it is essential or simply a matter of choice. First of all however, we’ll briefly look at a few details relating to the various forms of grids.
Interesting Facts about Grids
- If you wish to use the grid system, one of the most effective principles to consider is the Rule of Thirds. Also known as the golden grid rule, it is a technique which involves dividing a space into thirds vertically and horizontally. The result is a grid of rectangles and this allows you to focus on the most important elements of your logo.
- Many designers utilise The Golden Ratio (or Golden Rule or Phi) when creating pretty much everything. It is effectively a ratio between two segments of a design; in this instance, the ratio between points ac/bc is 1.618. The Mona Lisa is an example of The Golden Ratio and famous logos belonging to organisations such as Toyota, BP and even National Geographic utilise the famous ratio.
- Proponents claim a well-designed grid system can make your designs beautiful, legible and usable.
- Numerous grid systems have been in use for hundreds of years. An example is the Villard Diagram, which has been used since medieval times if not earlier.
- The modern grid system was developed by famous graphic designers such as Emil Ruder, Max Bill and Josef Muller-Brockmann.
Pros of Using the Grid System
- Simplicity of Design: The best logos are (usually) the simplest forms – when you use the grid system, you have the architecture of the logo determined before you begin creating.
- Versatility: Designers like grid systems because it helps to create designs that look good on any device. More consumers than ever before are accessing the Internet via mobile phones and tablets so you can create logos that look awesome regardless of what a person uses to view it.
- Flexibility: You can use horizontal and vertical lines in a seemingly limitless number of ways. You can mix modular grids with column grids, hierarchal grids with manuscript grids etc.
- User-Friendly: When you design a website, your goal is to make it aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly in terms of simple navigation. The best grid layouts are excellent for ensuring the most important content remains above the fold to avoid scrolling. The result is ensuring important content such as your company logo stands out. So in theory, using a grid system for your website and logo should yield dividends.
Cons of Using Grid Systems
From reading so far you would assume the grid system is the best thing since sliced bread, but it has plenty of flaws too.
- Restricts Creativity: Since every piece of content, is to an extent, pre-planned, it sucks the creativity out of logo design. You create your own borders and while the simplicity is great, the fact you’re trapped inside your own box is not. Indeed, this defeats the whole purpose of being a designer in the first place.
- Learning Curve: For something so ‘simple’, the grid layouts take time to master. Even the most experienced graphic designers can initially struggle. If you’re on a deadline, you certainly don’t need the added stress of trying to learn something new on the job.
- Static Designs: Another issue with the grid system is that you could end up with a fairly ‘boring’ and static design. It is probably not the best approach if you really want an innovative logo.
You may read this article and think the pros outweigh the cons and in purely numerical terms, they do. However, don’t assume you need to use grid systems when designing logos. Personally, I enjoy the creative aspect of graphic design and don’t enjoy being fenced in. While using grids certainly simplifies matters, it also reduces the possibility of creating something unique.
When you begin the creative process whether it is a website or a logo, your first order of business is to focus on the idea first and foremost and worry about design ‘rules’ afterwards. Your idea is the core of your design and the rules can’t be allowed to ruin a unique concept. Ultimately, many of the great logo designs (and websites) have been created by those who ignored the rules. Therefore, while the grid system is very useful in logo design it is far from being mandatory.