8 Rules for conference logo design

3 minutes read

Getting a conference logo designed? Read these logo design rules first.

Google “get a conference logo designed” and you’ll be bombarded with options, from super-cheap logo generators to big-budget design agencies.

If you’ve never been involved in conference logo design before, you’re probably not aware of just how much thought can go into designing a good one. And how much a bad one can reflect on the quality of the business (or conference) that’s associated with it.

Ugly logo with matchstick figures stuck to a globe

Ugly Logos: “Design a logo about community” someone probably said…

The importance of your conference logo

If you’re using a conference logo, it’ll pop up on almost everything along the way. From your conference website and conference management system to tote bags and t-shirts, it’s going to be one of the main images delegates associate with your conference. So if you’re getting a logo designed for your conference, give it some thought.

Cheap is always tempting, but it’s important to be aware that a lot goes into designing a good logo, and that kind of skill and effort doesn’t cost 5 bucks. While you might get lucky picking an inexperienced designer online, paying a credible designer a fair price is the most likely way to get an effective conference logo.

Consider looking for freelance designers in your area (ask to see a portfolio of their logo designs) or check out sites like 99designs which offer logo design contests. And if you’re affiliated with a third-level institute, check if their communications office has a designer who can help.

Ultimately, what you choose will depend on your budget and your needs. But if a super-cheap option looks too good to be true, well, it probably is.

Screengrab of Ex Ordo conference management tool showing dashboard and mobile schedule

The Ex Ordo dashboard, complete with conference logo

 

Follow these 8 basic conference logo design rules

Like a good winter coat, your conference logo should be simple and versatile. Think about the different ways your organising committee may want to use it, then keep these basic rules for conference logo design in mind.

1. Decide what form your logo should take. A conference logo can be: a word mark (think, Coca-Cola), an illustration (Batman has a pretty memorable one), an abstract symbol (like the Adidas trefoil), or some combination of these.

2. Write a decent brief for your logo design. Can you articulate what type of impression you want your conference logo to give delegates? Should it be thoughtful? Inspiring? Provocative? A good logo design brief can remove a lot of the pain from the process of creating your conference logo.

3. Your conference logo should not hurt the eyes. So no complicated illustrations and no clutter.

4. Your logo is not a technicolored dreamcoat. Keep colours to one or two, your logo should still work well in black and white.

5. Your logo should not be an illegible mess. Your conference logo needs to be easy to read whether it’s projected on-screen in between presentations or printed on a certificate of attendance.

6. Your logo should not be deeply unbalanced. In design, like in many things, balance is good. A balanced logo is one where the colours, illustration and size have an equal “weight” on each side.

7. Your conference logo should keep details to a minimum. A conference logo is not where you put details of your conference’s dates and venue. That’s what your conference website and invites are for.

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Batman took great pains not to clutter his logo – and it worked. (Courtesy of Pixabay)

8. When it comes to shape, your logo should aim for average. You don’t want your conference logo to be too tall, or too wide.

Finally, don’t abuse your logo

There’s a particular feeling you get when you’re at an event and faced with a logo that’s been stretched, rendered out-of-focus, or blown way bigger than it was designed to be. Whatever’s causing the problem, it’s not a good look for any logo.

When you get your shiny new conference logo, treat it right:

  • Use the correct, high-resolution version of your logo. If you’re using your university’s or lab’s logo and you’re not sure you have the right version, get in touch with the organisation’s communications department.
  • Get a copy of the logo in vector form if you want to project it or display it in a very large format.
  • Don’t distort your conference logo by stretching it. Scale it instead, so that the logo’s width and height keep the same ratio.

Happy Conferencing.

P.S. Want to learn more about logo design?

Got 5 minutes: This post should give you some idea of the cost of getting a logo designed.
Got 7 minutes: Dr Zen takes a squinty look at logos and conference posters.
Got 47 minutes: Like podcasts? This 99% Invisible episode on logos, politics and passionate fans shows just how much thought can go into logo design. It’s well worth a listen. 

Dee McCurry

Dee moved back from London to help Ex Ordo tell their story. Although she finds it tough to find turmeric lattes and other hipster nonsense in Galway, she enjoys writing about the weird and wonderful world of research conferences.