Examples: How to improve a logo

The weekly post for Week 8 includes some common issues with students’ logo drafts. But let’s take a look at a couple of before-and-after examples:

Example 1


In the version on the left, there are a few problems: The text is difficult to read, the three stars are not evenly spaced, and the overall boxy shape looks more like a label than a logo. The designer’s intention was to use team colors of yellow and blue, but the yellow looks greenish because of the gradient.


  • Ornate script fonts don’t display well in all caps. A different font selection improves the readability.
  • The stars are evenly spaced using the Alignment tools, and arranged more deliberately.
  • The stars and text are changed are changed to white for better contrast against the gradient background color.
  • The gradient is changed to a more subtle transition from blue-green to blue, with a little light blue in the middle to add a bit of shine.
  • The overall shape is changed to a rounded square, which is more pleasing to the eye and trendy, with a white border and drop shadow to lift the logo off the background in a subtle way.

The content of this logo is still not very distinctive. What is it for? What makes it unique? The designer could still improve this logo so it has a clearer purpose.

Example 2


The version on the left is more of an illustration than a logo, and the elements are rough and unbalanced. It looks more like it was done in MS Paint than in Illustrator, and the default bright colors look childish and hurried.


  • The first step is having elements that are shapes, so those are created over again using the shape tools and the pen tool. For shapes like the mountains, it’s useful to look at other logos with that element or pictures of actual mountains.
  • The logo is given an encompassing shape with clear edges — in this case, a circle, which is a common but aesthetically pleasing shape. Inner shapes are trimmed into the circle using the Shape Builder tool.
  • The text is curved around the design using the Type On a Path tool.
  • The colors are restrained to just gray and blue, with a subtle gradient for each.
  • The detail elements — sun, trees, path — are done in a simple style that will be scalable.

The new version doesn’t include a person figure, and the visual message still comes through clearly. It could still be worth finding a way to incorporate it if the designer really liked that element, but think critically about whether all elements are really necessary.

Example 3


In the version on the left, the outline of a smartphone is clearly created in detail using shapes in Illustrator, so this is an excellent start. However, the thin lines are not scalable since they would quickly disappear at small sizes, and the outline feels insubstantial rather than eye-catching. The text also seems incongruous with the technology theme.


  • The smartphone shapes are inverted so they have a fill color rather than an outline, which makes the overall logo bolder and more distinct.
  • The shapes are also simplified to avoid any issues with scalability. The idea that this represents a “smartphone” still comes through clearly.
  • The text is changed to a more modern sans-serif font to fit the technology theme.
  • The biggest change is that the smartphone screen is now adding to the meaning of the logo by including an eye-catching gradient and a stylized “chat” bubble. In the first version, the phone could be related to anything. In the second version, it’s clear this logo represents some type of communication-related mobile product.

All of these logos could still be improved, especially depending on the purpose and message to be communicated, but these changes improve both the visual and intellectual unity for stronger overall designs.

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