Thank you for the question. I would say that the number 1 problem has to be that businesses want their logo to tell the whole story.
Oddly enough this is the mortal sin that affects not only clients but most of the graphic designers as well. I hardly know about a professional that didn’t succumb at least once to the desire to tell everything in a single logo. And since graphic designers usually start their training with the creation of study logos, it’s a really common mistake. I vividly remember the first time I had to create a study logo and branding design – I chose to make an identity for a bakery with the colourful name “The Golden Gift”. I was so excited and I wanted to include everything in my logo – a name and a business like this offer a wide variation of graphic design elements to be included.
For days I tried to include an actual gift, bread, muffins, gold (or at least some sparkle and stars!) and wheat. All of it in a nice, tight circle (well I had to make them interact somehow and I wanted them to look professional – so you know I cheated a bit and just put all of these together, snuggling tightly in a group surrounded by a circle). As you can guess that idea didn’t quite work well – to be honest, it was a complete disaster! It looked pretty good as an illustration, but quite terrible as a logo. All of these symbols clashed horribly together and the result was a graphic “noise” – the logo had so many “voices” it confused the user.
My professor saved my back then – he helped me clean the message and leave only the most important symbols (I left only the wheat and choose a croissant instead of bread and muffins). He even let me keep the circle but not as a single line trapping everything together in hell and instead as the general form of the logo. The result was magnificent – the crops and the croissant gently completed each other in sort of yin and yang kind of relationship, forming the circle of manufacturing of baked goods. The message was clear and available to the end user, the symbol was distinguishable and memorable.
This was the moment I learned the most important rule in logo design – less is more. Just like a woman going to a fancy event – choosing a daring outfit that reveals almost everything to the spectators might make her interesting for a while (or if the combination is absurd or she’s revealing too much that will make people think less of her). But if she chooses a dress that only highlights her best features this will make her the star of the evening – and everyone will think she has an impeccable taste and looks a lot better than everyone else. If you apply the same approach to logo design – choose only one message and keep only a few of the suitable elements, you’ll be sure that your logo will work.
I hope this helps and if you need any more advice, go to my logo design agency page.