The dos and don’ts of good logo design

In the first article of a new series on design, branding and marketing, Simon Marett and Michael Sullivan look at the world of logo design. They highlight the pitfalls to avoid and the aspects you should be thinking of before you go ahead and design a new logo for your healthcare practice.

Designing a logo in Word software with a childish font and garish colours is not going to appeal to affluent professionals

At the outset, it might look like a cost-effective option to ‘do it yourself’ when designing a logo for your practice. It may seem easy with online software or an app you have downloaded, but there is more to good logo and brand design than you think. 

Here are a few aspects for you to consider.

1Know your audience 

This might sound obvious, but it is amazing how many healthcare websites we come across that have not taken a step back and thought carefully about who their patients and clients are and what they are looking for with a private healthcare practice. 

This is a starting point for any design, logo and branding project. Most private healthcare clinics would be considered premium brands and the fees charged are often a reflection of that. 

Designing a logo in Word software with a childish font and garish colours is not going to appeal to affluent professionals who are looking for a high-end, market-leading healthcare clinic. 

Draw ideas in black and white first

Take 30 minutes out with your team to discuss what your patients are looking for and document this in a simple creative brief for a designer to respond to.

2Start black and white

Think about some of the most iconic logos you see in your everyday life. Some immediately that spring to mind include Nike, Apple, Amazon and John Lewis. 

What they all have in common is they are simple, uncomplicated and memorable. The argument here is that if a logo works in black and white then it will work when you start adding colour. 

We recommend this to all our clients when they come to us looking for a new or redesigned logo or brand. 

Even if you have a strong inkling that purple is going to be the colour for your clinic, get a designer to sketch it out in black and white first. If it does not look quite right in black and white, it is unlikely to look good in full colour. 

3Think mobile  

The vast majority of your patients will experience your logo via their mobile

We all now live in a world where people are glued to their mobile devices and that is not likely to change any time soon. So stop a moment and have a think about what that means for your logo for your new clinic or practice.

There is no point spending hours and hours looking at how your logo is going to appear on letterheads, business cards and brochures when the vast majority of your patients and future patients will experience your logo via their mobile phone and a small screen. 

Concentrate on keeping your logo simple and test it out on a mobile phone early on in the process or you will soon be going back to square one.

4Less is more  

Less is more when it comes to designing a logo

Successful branding is more than just a logo; it is about the whole package: logo, avatar, strap­line, colour palette, typography and imagery. 

One of the most common mistakes we come across in logo design is placing all the emphasis on the logo and packing too many words and elements into it. 

Going back to some of the biggest and most successful healthcare and medical brands, such as GSK, Novartis, Bupa and Boots, they are all short and simple with eight characters or less. 

The more characters you add to your logo, the more complicated and difficult to read it becomes. 

So, if you have a killer strapline that is going to sell your clinic, do not pack it into the logo. Position it on the website homepage instead or put it on the back of your business card. 

5A flexible toolkit 

In today’s digital world, it is vital that you build flexibility into your logo design, because it is guaranteed to appear in a number of places and several different formats. 

Having one version of your logo that only works on a white background is going to cause problems when a business partner with a dark background website wants to put your logo on their homepage. 

You are also going to need to think about how your logo is going to work on mobile – see point 3 above – as well as the social media channels like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. 

You may also want to introduce an avatar or icon as part of your brand toolkit. 

Ask your designer or agency to create a set of brand guidelines or a brand book to follow as part of your logo or brand work. Adaptability within a simple brand framework is the name of the game.

Building a strong logo and brand is important for any successful healthcare practice. 

You will never have a second chance to make a first impression, so why take a risk and cut corners on an aspect of your clinic that carries such importance.

Working with a good designer or marketing agency about your logo plans need not cost the earth and is guaranteed to be a sound investment. 

There is no substitute for experience and they will help you through the process, provide options and help save you time, money and effort by putting your clinic on the right path for future success.

Simon Marett (left) and Michael Sullivan (right) are managing director and creative director of Ellerton Marketing Ltd, a specialist strategic marketing consultancy for independent healthcare practitioners