How to Design a Good Mobile App Logo
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At the end of the day, you’re working with a logo that, on a screen, will often be smaller than the size of a thumbnail. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re designing something at 1024 x 1024 px, but at its smallest your icon may need to display at 29 x 29 px. Trying to cram too much in will muddle the recognizability of your app and ruin scalability. An icon that can be very quickly recognized for consumers is good for branding.
It goes hand in hand with number one, but it’s a common mistake for first time designers. Even if it seems to fit the theme of your app (an industry that seems to pair well with more complex images, like wine, for example), it’s going to be overly complicated and, at a very small size, it will be difficult for the user to identify what they’re actually seeing. As Design Shack explains, you want to think icons -- graphic representations of ideas -- not image.
It’s Not the Space for Text
Scroll through your phone and you’ll likely notice that the majority of apps you use don’t employ much or any text. Trying to fit the name of your app into a small box is not only going to be difficult, but it doesn’t add much to the design. It’s worth noting that in most cases, the name of your app may accompany the logo anyway, which would making adding it to the design redundant. Some apps, like Vine or Pinterest, do employ single letters to stand as symbols which can work -- provided that they are still a memorable design, and not just simply a letter pulled from a generic font.
Android users have 1.6 million apps to chose from; Apple users have 1.5 million. There’s a lot of competition out there, so you’re going to want to stand out from the crowd. As The Next Web points out, simplicity is, again, often key to hitting the right design -- some of the most iconic logos out there are fairly simple shape compositions, or universal images that everyone can recognize - Take the Brewski Me app logo as an example.
Test Your Logo on a Variety of Backgrounds
Your logo may be appearing on a wide variety of background colors and patterns. Would your app easily blend into a white background? As Apple’s own guidelines point out in regards to testing your design: “Don’t just test your icon on a light or dark background, because you can’t predict which wallpaper people will choose.”
Commit to Substance
If your icon for a clothing company is meant to look like a textile, it should clearly convey this. A jean surface logo, for example, shouldn’t have a smooth, shiny appearance -- instead it should embrace giving the user the look and feel of a soft weave.
Go Big With Color, or Go Home
The last thing you want is for your app to blend into the background, so why use dull colors? Even if you have a reason to use more neutral colors like gray or brown, use contrast to make your logo pop, like what Goodreads is doing with their logo. According to software guru Jared Sinclair, white and blue are the most common app colors -- so you may want to opt for something a bit more unique for yours.