When it comes to brands and marketing, my favorite things are the graphics – specifically logos. The logo is the key component to a brand’s visual identity. It’s often the first impression a company conveys. Since we live in a world constantly swarming with visual noise, a logo must have some essential elements in order to break through that noise and speak clearly to its audience.
There are five main criteria that a logo must meet in order to be successful and appealing. An effective logo must be simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, and appropriate.
A simple logo design is imperative. Like I said we live in a busy and chaotic world. If you want your brand to be seen and comprehended it needs to be simple enough that someone will recognize and know exactly who you are with a glance. If you have to take a minute to digest a company’s logo, it’s too complicated.
A memorable logo goes along with a simple one. It’s difficult to remember an intricate logo. Other elements that feed memorability are originality and color. Having an original logo is important. If people can’t distinguish your logo from another one, you’re in trouble. To avoid this, stay away from stock graphics and generic icons for your industry. Color is also a huge factor in how people remember things. People automatically identify symbols and meanings with colors. In the context of driving, everyone knows that red means stop and green means go. In the context of your industry, what colors will stand out and be meaningful to your customers? Check out this article for some general color theory and meanings. But remember that this color theory applies to the U.S. and may differ depending on the culture of your target audience.
A timeless logo is going to save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. A trendy design may do well for a short period of time but soon a logo redesign will be in order and the whole process will start over. Instead, go with timeless. Coca Cola is the classic example for this category. Check out this graphic to see the evolution of Coca Cola versus Pepsi’s logo designs. While Coke has had some variation, it still holds true to the timeless aspect more than Pepsi.
Versatility is very important, especially in this day and age. A versatile logo is one that can be adapted to multiple mediums. Your logo should be adaptable for portrait or landscape layouts, for a huge reader board or on a stamp, in black and white or color. Your logo design shouldn’t restrict where you want to make your company known.
A logo that isn’t appropriate is just pointless for your business. Your logo should reflect or relate to your business or an aspect of it. This doesn’t mean that because you’re a computer company that you need a computer in your logo. Apple obviously didn’t do that and they’re fine. But you need to have some aspect that correlates with your company, even if it’s subtle – like the “byte” taken out of the Apple logo.
A logo is usually a wordmark (text) and/or a symbol (graphic). If the name of your company is unique, using just a wordmark might work. But if you have a generic name you’ll probably need a symbol to go along with the wordmark to help identify your company. Remember to consider fonts when working on the wordmark. The typeface makes a huge difference in the message that is conveyed through just text.
I know that planning and designing an effective logo can be exhausting. But this is a very important step in determining your brand identity. As a small business owner, it’s good that you have an idea of what you want and what you need. But hiring a professional graphic designer is a wise decision that it will lift some of the planning pressure off of you.
For a concrete example of the logo design process, check out how we redesigned our logo in our Re-Branding Suite 4 series.