Hamilton the Broadway musical and logo design

Don’t throw away your shot!

One reason Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has been so popular is that it delivers messages on a lot of levels about ambition, patriotism, perseverance and more. But did you notice it also has something to say about marketing?

In the memorable number “My Shot,” Alexander Hamilton declares:

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy, and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot.

In visual marketing your shot is your logo, and you never, ever, ever want to throw away its impact. That means making sure the logo works in every conceivable way you might want to use it.

Yes, the design of your logo should express who you are as a company and what you stand for. That’s the creative imperative. But there are technical imperatives as well. Ignore those at your peril.

It’s not enough for your logo to look good on your stationery, brochure or presentation folder. It also must be crisp and legible on something as small as a business card or pen, and on something as large as a billboard or bus wrap.

At some point you may want your logo to be embroidered onto clothing, or made into a rubber stamp. And of course, it must look good on screen for your website, social media pages, PowerPoint presentations and emails.

Here are tips on logo designs that work well in all formats, sizes and processes:

DO keep it simple. Fine details such as a thin line or tiny shape can disappear when your logo is used at a small scale. Test this before approving the logo.

DON’T get bad grades. Beware of gradients because they are difficult to reproduce on some materials, including embroidery. And you may need to eliminate gradients entirely when one-color printing is necessary.

DO guard your space. Ink on a printing press spreads a little or a lot, depending on the paper being used. Avoid a muddy-looking mess by keeping sufficient space between letters and around shapes so that the ink can’t fill in the blanks.

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