8 Most Common Logo Design Cliches to Avoid
Logo design is never easy, even in the pre-internet era.
Standing out of the crowd required a self-contradicting, mind-boggling mix of creativity and simplicity, symbolism and minimalism, brevity and clarity.
Today, with far too much competition and way too many eyeballs, the job has only gotten tougher.
To the average designer, it feels like all the good designs are already taken, and there’s little left except recycling the classics.
However, that is precisely where the top logo designers rise above the average and create logos that don’t just identify a brand but build an emotional connection.
We have a great post if you are looking for some logo design inspiration, check it out right here.
Designers need to understand that today, no business exists in seclusion, and everyone knows everyone.
So repackaging old logos, following stale trends and harping on the logo design cliches will hurt your client’s business in a big way.
Some logo designs have been merely so overused that it is impossible to imagine creating a unique brand identity with it.
These designs are excellent, no doubt about that.
That is why so many people try to mimic them.
However, too much of a good thing turns into a bad, far too quickly in the design world.
The famous Nike Swoosh, the Golden Arches of McDonald’s, the Apple, all these logos are so insanely popular that any interpretation that vaguely resembles them will immediately be called out by the audience.
It could disastrously affect the company’s branding and make it look like a cheap knock-off.
So read on to find out which are the logo design cliches that you must entirely avoid using in your logo design:
Oh, it’s a phenomenal typeface no doubt.
Helvetica is a darling of the designer world, so much so that most of us just want to write the company name in Helvetica bold and call it a logo.
Simply because that’s been done enough.
And a word written beautifully doesn’t just metamorphose into a logo.
Just because it worked for Microsoft, Panasonic and many others do not necessarily mean it could work for you now.
They have massive marketing and advertising budgets well into the millions of dollars to back up their brand.
It’s been done to death and designers today need to try harder.
Also, while we are at it, remember it’s not just Helvetica.
Every other overused typeface must be avoided.
You could choose it as a part of your logo, but just a typed, plain text logo, is not a good idea.
If it has to be done, you need to get inventive like FedEx and at least hide a special meaning in there.
Yep, that little arrow between E and x does the trick.
2. The Arc
An arc at the top, an arc at the bottom, an arc all around, an arc cutting through, we’ve had just about enough arcs already.
Sure it’s a great design.
An arc represents security, forward motion, rising above the competition, flexibility and a lot of other great things.
However, once again, you have got to give up on this idea, just because it’s too overused and common logo design cliches.
Sure Amazon added a new dimension to the arc by turning it into an arrow that goes from the A to the Z in their name, signifying that they’ve got everything you need.
Maybe, if you are too big a fan of arcs, you could do something as intelligent as Amazon, where it’s not just an arc but something more profound and more meaningful.
However, if not, it’s best to avoid that cliche and get rid of all arcs from your logo.
3. The Human Tree Figure
I must admit I like this design – a beautiful tree where the trunk is usually a benevolent human figure with arms for branches.
However, I must also admit that of the scores of these that I have seen; I cannot remember one from another.
This might have been a great idea the first time it was done, but today, the human tree logo is nothing but a generic template where any company could insert its name.
You can quite honestly forget the idea of establishing a unique identity with a logo using this generic concept.
Trees signify growth, stability and life.
That is why companies in the health sector, wealth management solutions and caregiving or pharma related industries tend to use this logo a little too often.
If you are designing a logo for one such company, the chances are that a few leaves will spring up in your mind.
However, you’re somewhat better off ignoring this idea and taking your logo design process in an entirely new direction.
4. Other Ways to Use Stylised Human Figures
It could be the dancing ballerina, the thinking man or the group hug.
Once again, there’s entirely nothing unique or memorable about any of these logos.
They are all a mish-mash of human figures twisted to form a logo.
You could always try harder and make a more significant point instead of picking out one of these from a stock website and adding your name.
5. First Letters of Company Names
Sometimes overlapped, sometimes wrapped inside a circle or otherwise embellished, simply using the first letters of the business name in a stylised text is an ages old logo trend that really shouldn’t be prevalent anymore.
However, you do see that happening sometimes and to be honest, it is quite cringeworthy.
It looks archaic and lacks creativity unless you have a compelling message designed into the letters.
6. Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces
Trying to give the image that we will find you a solution, a jigsaw puzzle is another overused logo design cliches that creative businesses should refrain from.
Just like one solution cannot work for all problems, the same logo cannot work for all businesses.
Businesses should instead focus on actually developing a creative logo that will help them reinforce the message that here’s a company that will break the mould and find new ways to tackle problems and help its clients.
7. The Globe
Businesses that try to portray themselves as global brands often tend to use the symbology of a globe.
Hundreds of companies have already experimented with the globe, which means that anything you try to come up with has probably already been done before.
An actual earthlike globe, a netlike globe, a world in rainbow colours, a world-engulfing the starting letter of your company name, all kinds of orbs have been done to death.
Even if you manage to come up with some unique intricacies in your logo, if the central theme is a globe, you are likely to get lost in a galaxy of spheres of all shapes and sizes.
8. Industry Specific Logo Design Cliches
Almost every other realtor, property dealer or construction company’s logo incorporates a house in some way.
Far too many automotive companies have stylised cars or wheels for their logo.
Too many doctors and hospitals incorporate a red cross in some way.
Most internet and software solution companies try to use a web or a netted globe.
Writing and press related companies try to use a pen in their logo design.
Try to step out of the comfort zone of these industry-specific logo design cliches and differentiate yourself by infusing new meaning in your logos.
Experiment, try new ideas, discard old drafts and start anew.
Do whatever it takes but rise above the crowd and do something radical. Be unconventional, be a rebel.
A logo is more than a tiny icon that you put before your business name.
A logo is the prime component of a business’ brand.
Done correctly, it can act as a catalyst that expedites the rate at which you attract the right audience and form profitable business relationships.
When it comes to logo design, be wary of following the so-called trends.
Trends are a tricky concept.
They seem like the right thing to do at the time, but if too many people start adopting the same trend, it becomes a cliche that can destroy uniqueness and curb innovation.
So step out of your office, get some fresh air, and start all over again.
If you’re tired of Photoshop, take a pencil and sketch out until you hit something substantial.
However, now that you know the logo design cliches, never succumb to mediocrity again and instead, reimagine logos to create something spectacular.