Branding and Logos

3 Reasons a Hand-Lettered Logo Isn’t Always the Best Option

Hey business owner. I see you over there, struggling to come up with the right logo. You know, the one that illustrates the incredible work you do and captures your unique style. You’re looking for one that will show current and potential customers what makes your business stand out from the crowd. It also has to aesthetically look great and be versatile enough to use all over: from business cards to watermarks and everything in between. There’s a lot to consider and unfortunately, many people get overwhelmed before they even start the design process, and end up just choosing something on a whim. 

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No doubt you’ve seen an influx of hand-lettered logos lately. I sure have! They’re really popular right now, and maybe you’ve been wondering if you should create something like that for yourself. It’s definitely something worth considering, however, I’ve got to be honest: a lot of hand-lettered logos I see are just not cutting it. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as grabbing a brush-tip marker and whipping something up. There’s some considerations you have to make first, just like with any other style of graphic design you work with.

Let’s go over a few of the most common reasons hand-lettered logos fail.

Three Big Reasons Hand-Lettered Logos Fail

Hand-Lettered Logos Can Be Difficult to Read

You’ve probably encountered a logo that has made you stop and squint as if you’re looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures. What the heck does that say? This is no bueno. The main purpose of a logo is to quickly communicate what you’re all about using a few words and some visual cues. If your logo cannot be read, that’s a pretty big problem.

Your potential customers are being pulled in a million directions, and they don’t have time to investigate your business. Your logo needs to quickly and clearly spell out what you do, who you are, and what you offer. 

I’m not saying all hand-lettered logos are hard to read. However, if your business has an uncommon or super long name, you may discover that script fonts aren’t very effective. In this case, you may want to choose a serif font or use a hand-written style for just part of the logo. Play around with different lettering styles and see what works best.

The Hand-Lettered Style Doesn’t Fit Your Brand

Hand-lettering is trendy, but it’s not for everyone. As a designer, there’s a good chance I would advise a client who owns a roofing or construction company to avoid a flowy hand-lettered script for their logo. That’s not to say they can’t use hand-lettering altogether; perhaps something in a print or block style would work better. 

It’s important to honestly examine whether a style will work for you, which means you gotta be objective. That’s often easier said than done. Sometimes it means abandoning an idea that you really love. The best advice I can give is to work with a marketing or design pro that you can trust. They’ll know when to say, “Yeah, I don’t think this will work for your business.” Having someone in your corner like that is invaluable. 

Your Brand Name is Too Long for a Hand-Lettered Logo

Too much of a good thing can be… well, too much. I’ve seen hand-lettered logos fail because there’s just too much going on. If your business name is several words long, for example “Leslie Knope Photography Studio” you probably want to consider using two different fonts to break things up. 

Many people choose to mix some hand-lettering alongside a very clean, minimal font. This can work really well. You will want to consider how you arrange the words in your logo so nothing is cut off or covered. This can be especially tricky when you have letters like “g” or “y” that have tails that extend below the rest of the text. A graphic designer can help align your logo so it is visually appealing and easy to read.

A Hand-Lettered Logo That Stands Out

So, I’ve talked about some of the reasons hand-lettered logos can fail, and now I want to share some simple steps you can take to make sure yours stands out for all the right reasons:

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Work With an Experienced Designer - A professional graphic designer is a valuable investment when branding (or rebranding) your business. Logos and other visual elements are often more complicated than they seem. Beyond just looking good, they need to be able to tell stories about your brand, as well as play upon the psychology of your potential customers. A great designer can be a lifesaver. Choose one whose work you admire, and who you feel comfortable collaborating with.

Give Honest Feedback - On that point, sometimes you’re going to have to tell your designer you’re not crazy about something. That’s okay! It’s your business you should love your logo. After all, you’re going to be seeing it more than anyone else! If you’re worried your logo is hard to read or just doesn’t fit the personality of your business, speak up. You may even want to ask friends and family what they think as you go through the design process.

Be Yourself - Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself. If a style, color, or font doesn’t speak to you, don’t choose it just because everyone else seems to like it. Trends come and go, but your brand is here to stay. It’s so much more of a boss move to choose a truly unique logo that tells your story instead of one that looks like everyone else’s.