Why We Design Logos in Black and White First
Design has a subjective feel to it, but these days people have a better understanding of the differences between good and bad design. There’s no better example than how people react to a logo. When someone sees the Apple logo, they’ll easily recognize who they are, what they do and why they do what they do. You don’t have to be a designer to understand that their story is clear, legible and can easily be used in creative ways just by looking at their logo.
The opposite is true for a poorly designed logo – you’ll have no idea what story they’re trying to tell. With a lack of clarity and aesthetic direction, your audience will forget who you are. This also eliminates any potential for growth. Good design matters and how well your logo is designed can either make or break the direction of your brand story.
Early in the logo development process, many designers start with thumbnail sketches. This is how we see a brand tell its story in its simplest form. These sketches don’t have to be the perfect drawing. In fact, no one expects a perfect circle for something that was drawn in a few seconds. They’ll get refined in the creation of a digital version later in the process. But before a logo concept gets refined, and before colors are applied, we know a concept works because of how easily it can tell someone who they are, what they do and why they do what they do.
So why design logos in black and white? Why do we try to get this right early in the process of creating a brand? A few reasons.
Designing for clarity
With thousands of messages competing for our attention every day, your logo must captivate your audience within the short attention span that we have. To do that, it must be as clear as it can be to the viewer. Something to think about when it comes to your logo – “What does my logo mean to someone who’s never heard my story?” We never see complex designs being used for logos because they’re unclear to the viewer. Strip away all the complexities of any brand identity and all you have left is a black and white logo – the simplest, clearest version of the story your company is trying to tell.
Designing for legibility
While clarity is more of the high-level objective of a logo, legibility is more of the technical side to having a successful brand. As you go through the process of designing a logo, you need to consider how well your logo will translate across various platforms such as print and screen applications. We determine this by testing how well a logo scales. Test your logo by scaling it to the smallest size possible. If you can see your design scale smaller while retaining all its details in black and white, then it can adapt to anything you set to.
Designing for OPPORTUNITY
With clarity and legibility in mind, your logo opens itself up to many possibilities on how it can be used.
- Your logo can be animated in motion graphics and other video applications.
- Your logo can be used in special printing cases such as embroidery and engraving.
- Your logo can be interchangeable between brand colors.
- Co-branding becomes easier with other brands.
Imagine having a well-told story for your business with a strong logo and brand identity that your employees can proudly get behind. None of it is possible without designing your logo in black and white first.