There are many great logos out there, some are even wonderful looking at the first glance, but only few can proudly represent all of the main and important principles of a great logo design. Why only few? It’s hard to tell, but the first answer that comes to my mind – lack of knowledge when designing a logo and it’s not just about the small or startup businesses, there are many bad or not so good examples even with large and worldwide known companies also (but I’ll leave that for our future posts).
Your logo is your company’s suit or outfit that you wear when first meeting your client. Let’s put it like this – what would be your clients’ first impression if you came to meet them in a cheap looking t-shirt with large, inappropriate picture on it, dirty shoes and old trousers? Maybe you’re a genius in any other way and you will not lose this client, but wouldn’t you earn a stronger trust and earn it undoubtedly faster if you came to him/her in a good looking suit, clean, white shirt and elegant tie? I bet you would, because these are the first signs that you might be a reliable and confident person with a responsible attitude.
The greatest logo will always be the simplest one! Without any unnecessary details or colors. That’s the golden rule of a great logo design, because if it’s simple, it also means it will be recognizable, memorable and most likely versatile. However, simple doesn’t mean basic or generic.
Let’s take the “amazon.com” logo for an example – it’s simple and also carries the message (the logo has an arrow pointing from “a” to “z”. This signifies that they sell everything from “a” to “z”. Plus the arrow also forms a smile, meaning the shopping at amazon.com can be fun).
No need to say anything more!Your logo is not a painting of a scene from a bible or a long essay where you can describe each of your thoughts and write down everything you love about your business. Simplicity is the purest form of genius, as Albert Einstein once remarked.
An effective logo design must be memorable. You have maximum time of 2 seconds for your potential client that he/she will spare to look at your logo and those 2 seconds will be wasted if the logo is not simple enough to stay in mind. Imagine that you’re driving in a car or fast-walking through the city (with no time to stop by) and you notice the exact product or service that you were looking for years. Can you spot the logo and read the typography from a distance? And is it simple enough so you won’t have a trouble remembering it once you’re trying to find it the next time or when searching on the Internet later back home? Memorable logo also means that your brand will take a place in people’s memory much faster than the one that can be barely remembered.
The logo must work in one color! Of course the one color version most probably will differ a bit from the one that’s meant for a web or print, but it still has to be as recognizable and effective with NO changes of structure, lines, silhouette and composition, so that there’s just the color taken off and nothing else. Otherwise you will have not one, but tons of logo versions, each for the specific needs or you’ll just have to get rid of your logo and use a simple text of your company’s name. So it’s smart and vital to have a one color working logo already at the startup of your business, even if it’s just a small website at the beginning, so you won’t have any limitations on its usage and your marketing ideas in the future.
If the logo has gradients, shadows or any other effects, it should also be able to work not just in one color but in a few – two, three, maybe four, it depends on the actual color tone count of it, but a good logo shouldn’t have more than 3 colors, with some exceptions (that it’s still simple and memorable).
The most famous example of timeless logo (above). Did you know that the Coca Cola logo design from 1940 is almost no different from the one that we see today? While Pepsi has completely changed its design for at least 10 times. Imagine the unnecessary money and energy spent on these redesigns + all the time that was needed to get back the product in its previous position and recognition.
The logo must represent your company’s purpose, values and products or services in some way, not even directly. With that said it doesn’t mean it must be a basketball ball for a sports company or a roosted chicken for a fast-food restaurant. Let’s take the “Nike” logo for an example – the logo represents the wing of the Greek Winged Goddess of Victory called Nike. She is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. The stylized wing represents all of these three values. Plus it’s also a check mark – the sign of a positive mark and good results.
This is not an obligation, but if we are talking about an EFFECTIVE logo, it also must be unique in some way. Of course there are many large and worldwide known companies, that can’t be proud of some originality in their logo, unique details, hidden messages, etc., but a large company doesn’t always mean it’s something worth to learn from.
Unique means your logo will be original and powerful enough to proudly rise amongst others and your competitors. Unique doesn’t always mean hidden messages, negative spaces, interesting details or secret anagrams (which is all great and remarkable) – your logo can become unique even if you just tilt it up by 45° degrees and leave it as your standard horizontal logo version. If your logo carries something special, there’s more chance of getting noticed instead of getting mixed together in a large and similar mass of brands.