What Makes A Good Logo?

Logo of Chanel, Kool-Aid Man, BP Oil, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Google, and Mcdonalds

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Within a tenth of a second of seeing a new face, a book cover or in this case a logo, humans subconsciously make a decision on how they initially perceive what’s in front of them. That alone is evidence of the importance of having a good logo.

What makes a good logo? Every iconic logo shares fundamental characteristics that stand the test of time. Simple design, relevant, timeless, distinct and versatility are just some of the few characteristics that make a good logo.

…but first, what is a logo?

What Is A Logo?

A logo is a graphical mark that can be used to represent things such as companies, businesses or brands.

A logo consists of two elements.

  • Symbol
  • Text

The combination of the symbol and text is referred to as the logo lockup. A well-designed logo is designed to be used in its logo lockup, symbol only or text only while still remaining recognizable.

A third element could be used in logo design. The third element is a tagline. A tagline is a short text that the brand uses to communicate a thought or message.

There are five main logo categories.

Monogram Logos

A monogram logo is a symbol that combines two or more letters to make one element.

Example of a Monogram logo. Chanel Logo.
Wordmark Logo

A wordmark logo or commonly referred to as logotype is a logo that uses text only. Often times the font is customized to better distinguish the brand or business it’s representing.

Example of a word mark logo. Coco-cola logo.
Pictorial Logo

A pictorial logo uses a recognizable image as a symbol.

Example of a pictorial logo. Twitter logo.
Abstract Logo

An abstract logo uses abstract geometric elements to represent a brand or business.

Example of an abstract logo. BP Oil logo.
Emblem

An emblem consists of symbol and text that is contained inside a shape.

Example of Emblem logo. Starbucks logo.
Mascot

A mascot is a logo that uses an illustrated character to represent a brand or business.

Example of Mascot logo. Kool-Aid Man logo.

When designing your logo be sure to incorporate the following design principles.

Keep it Simple

Above all else, your logo design needs to be simple. Why? By keeping your logo simple it will help meet most of the other basic logo principles.

If you look back at the most iconic logos you will see the one trait they all have in common is their simple design.

A simple design will ensure that your logo is memorable, versatile, timeless and easy to recognize. Think about big brands such as Nike and Disney. I bet you can recall what their logo looks like instantly. There is nothing complex about a swoosh or 3 simple circles that represent a silhouette of a mouse.

When your audience thinks about your brand you want them to be able to instantly visualize your logo.

Make It Memorable

This design principle ties into the previous element of simplicity. Every good logo must be memorable, and as mentioned in the previous point, keeping your logo design simple will help it be memorable to your audience.

Having to much detail in your logo might look appealing but it will be harder to remember.

Ask yourself this. Will my audience be able to quickly sketch out my logo in just a few seconds? If the answer is no, consider simplifying your design.

Here’s a quick tip to ensure your logo is memorable. Ask yourself if the logo will still be recognizable if it was black and white.

Relevant

A good logo must be relevant to the business it is representing. Your logo design must convey what the business is all about.

A logo design for an accounting firm must feel professional and convey a feeling of trust. A logo for a children’s daycare should be fun and welcoming. A logo for a high-end clothing line must feel luxurious and exclusive.

Now don’t mistake this for designing a logo that literally conveys what the business is all about. A real estate logo doesn’t have to have a picture of a house or a coffee shop doesn’t need a picture of coffee for their logo to be relevant.

Timeless

A good logo will stand the test of time.

Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you will never update your logo. Every major brand has done some kind of tweak or refresh to its logo, but its essential design usually remains the same.

How do you ensure that your logo is timeless?

The number one rule is to avoid trends and fads. Every year there is a new design trend and it seems like every new business wants to incorporate these styles into their branding to be relevant.

This is a big no-no! What happens when the trend goes out of style? Your logo will simply look dated and ugly.

A good way to make a logo timeless is by incorporating traditions. Traditions last a lifetime. If your business has any traditions try to incorporate them into your logo. If you are a new business and don’t have any traditions yet, think about your geographical location and try to incorporate traditions based on your location.

Versatile

In today’s day in age, to have a good logo, it is essential to have a versatile design.

Think about all the different places your logo will be displayed.

  • Storefront
  • Business card
  • Letterhead
  • Social media banner and display pictures
  • Merchandise
  • Billboards

…and the list goes on.

Your logo MUST be versatile because it will be displayed on multiple different mediums, big and small.

This again goes back to our first point, simplicity.

Your logo might potentially be shrunk down to something that’s that size of a thumbnail. Will, it still be recognizable?

Can Be Easily Read

This might be obvious to you, but it’s amazing how many logos I’ve come across that have fonts that can not be read.

There is a design trend going around that incorporates the use of script fonts and custom hand lettering in logos. If done right, and used appropriately, script fonts can work, but be careful with them.

Script fonts and hand lettering can look beautiful, but what happens when that logo is shrunk down to a thumbnail? Will your audience still be able to read your logo?

Think about my previous point regarding versatility. Your logo might be shrunk down and become illegible when using complex script fonts.

Balance

A good logo is balanced.

A logo lockup consists of two elements, a symbol, and the typography. It’s important to maintain a balance between these two elements. You do not want one of the elements to overpower the other.

I don’t usually see a balance between the symbol and typography as an issue with logos, but when a designer throws in taglines things can get messy.

Be careful when adding a tagline to your logo. Remember the tagline is secondary, it needs to be smaller than your name. Do not let it overpower your logo.

In Summary

Having a well-designed logo is essential for building a recognizable brand that your audience will love.

To design a good logo be sure to incorporate the following elements;

  • Simple
  • Memorable
  • Relevant
  • Timeless
  • Versatile
  • Easily Read
  • Balanced

Want to learn more about logos? Check out the following books!

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Check out my portfolio and contact me to see how I can help!

3 thoughts on “What Makes A Good Logo?”

  1. Ah my logo design for my blog went pretty much like this… please draw this specific bee in a circle with my site title in black and white. I quite like it still hopefully it’s a happy accident and an alright one.

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