We’re bombarded with branding everywhere we look. Companies paste up huge logos on billboards to get our attention while we drive, our clothes prominently feature the logos of the brands that make them, even the computer or phone you’re reading this on probably has a logo staring back at you. Heck, while writing this I counted 41 logos within 3 feet of me. So, when we’re constantly surrounded by all of these logos and brands, how do we know which ones are actually good? What really makes a good logo?
There have been more books than I can count written on logo design and branding, so I’ll keep things high level to avoid adding another novel to the list. Here are some of the elements that I believe make a logo “good”:
A good logo should be memorable
This is the single most important feature of a good logo. I’m sure if you close your eyes and try to think of logos that you personally consider “good”, you can recreate them in your mind quite easily. Having a memorable logo is essential because your logo is a representation of you or your company, so if someone is able to remember your logo, they’ll most certainly remember the organization or individual associated with it. A good identity is like a catchy song, it gets stuck in your head and you’re able to recall it on demand, sometimes without even trying.
A good logo should be simple
I’m a firm believer that the best identities are those which are simple. This does not mean that the logos are not clever or are devoid of metaphorical complexity, but that they are simple in that they are easy to replicate. I feel that if you give someone a pen and paper and ask them to recreate your logo, they should be able to do so without much hassle.
I’ve recently seen a trend where logos are being created as part of an ever-changing logo “system” (i.e. dynamically generated logos), which are very cool pieces of design and really quite clever. Although, I do not feel this makes for a good identity as it is far too complex for people to be able to reproduce in their minds or otherwise. When designing a logo, I always remind myself to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
A good logo should be versatile
With new technologies, devices, screen sizes, and marketing avenues popping up every day, it’s more important than ever for a logo to be versatile. A good logo will work at all sizes from billboards to business cards, and will reproduce faithfully both digitally and in print. It’s also important for a logo to work well on a variety of backgrounds, which means it needs to look good when displayed in full color, grey-scale, and one-color.
A good logo should be fitting
A lot of the time I’ll see a big corporation reveal a new identity and watch as waves of people rant and rave on social media platforms about how boring the new logo is. While sometimes this is justified, sometimes people forget that logos need to fit the organizations or individuals that they represent. While a simple sans-serif logotype may not be groundbreaking or avant-garde, it could very well be the perfect fit for the company it was designed for. Good logos are designed with the end-user in mind, meaning a logo that works for one market may be a terrible fit for another.
A good logo should be timeless
A mistake I see designers make quite often is that they utilize popular trends in their logo designs. While it can be tempting to incorporate the hottest new fad into your designs (hipster logos, anyone?), you’re not doing yourself (or your client) any favors. Good logos stand the test of time by building on strong design fundamentals, not the flavor of the week. With the design industry constantly evolving, what’s “in” one week will be “out” the next, but the classics never fade.
Wrapping it up
So, while this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are some of the major factors that contribute to a well designed logo. Be sure to ask yourself these questions the next time you’re creating an identity: Is it memorable? Is it simple? Is it versatile? Is it fitting? Is it timeless? If the answer is “yes” to all of those questions you’ll be well on your way to creating something your client is sure to love.