What Makes a Good Logo?

by | Jul 29, 2019

A logo is a small, symbolic piece of artwork that represents and identifies a business or organisation. That sounds quite important, doesn’t it? So why are there so many BAD logos out there, and what makes a GOOD logo?

At its core, a good logo should:

1. Embody your brand
Author and Entrepreneur, Seth Godin, has a great definition of ‘brand’…
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” 

Strong brands simplify a consumer’s decision-making. Over time, consumers discover brands that they relate to and meet their needs. If they recognise a brand and trust it, they’ll buy it more quickly. Good news!

So good graphic designers firstly need to understand the brand and it’s positioning inside-out. Who is the product or service for, and why is it better than the competition? Once they’ve fully immersed themselves in the brand, they should have all the creative tools they need to create a logo that perfectly defines the business or organisation.

Market research is great for understanding a brand’s purpose and positioning. But for smaller businesses, where that’s not affordable or possible, just asking your existing contacts for their opinions via any media available to you, can be just as effective.

2. Be recognisable
Your logo is central to your brand. It’s the piece of your brand’s identity that people will encounter the most. It’s your public face.

By keeping things simple, it’s easier to create a memorable logo that encourages an emotional response from people. The world’s top brands have simple logos, with limited colour palettes, often following a standard visual protocol where blues express calm, and brighter reds and yellows express passion and energy. 

Typefaces are also extremely powerful. Most business or product logos feature a single, primary typeface – either something totally unique, created by the graphic designer, or an ‘off-the-peg’ font, tweaked to make it more unique to the brand.

The combination of colour, typography and graphic elements must work together to be memorable, so the customer becomes familiar with the logo and starts trusting the brand. The logo will then come to embody the total, positive brand experience they have – hopefully for many years to come. 

3. Be versatile
The applications of your logo can be endless, so the easier it is to scale between mediums like print and digital advertising, the more effective it will be. But the initial choice of design elements is vital for to guarantee that versatility. 

To get it right first time, we designers need to plan ahead, and foresee all the variables from the very first design stage, so we choose the right text size and line length for legibility, understand the colour systems for different online and offline media, as well as the many different print and display processes. 

Well-designed logos look just as great on tiny social media icons as on a huge advertising billboard. And they should work equally well in their original colourway, or where mono-only is possible. So simplicity helps here as well.

Graphic designer, Patrick Winfield, works up his logo concepts in black and white first, to check it’ll look good in its simplest form. Only once the client has approved a black and white version, does he then add colour. Which demonstrates how important design and composition are.

4. Be timeless
Will your logo still look good and work well in 10 years time? 

Graphic Designer, David Airey says…”Leave trends to the fashion industry – Trends come and go, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.” 

Great advice! Logos that fall into the ‘timeless’ category include Coca Cola, Apple and Chanel. They have obvious similarities – simple shape, easy scalability and limited colour palette – all of which help to ensure their public recognition and their timelessness.

For your own logo to achieve it’s aims – to embody and define your brand, and be recognisable and versatile – timelessness is a must. But even a timeless logo shouldn’t stand still. By responding to changing business environments and customer needs, a brand logo can adapt without losing any trust. An evolution that’s true to the brand’s heritage, could also be considered a timeless (and really smart!) solution. 

So, does your own logo stand up to these four checks?
If not, we’d love to help.

“The challenge is about taking things that are infinitely complex, and making them simpler and more understandable.”

Robert Greenberg