With the crazy amount of logos out there in the world, it’s a challenge to be different and original. But just being unique isn’t enough; a good logo design has a little something special, a “secret sauce” that makes it memorable.
A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, simple, and conveys the intended message. Simply, a logo is there to identify. So what are the ingredients to the secret sauce of good logo design? Try equal amounts of simplicity, timelessness, and versatility, and make sure the logo is appropriate for your industry.
A good logo design is simple…
A simple logo is easy to recognize and remember. That doesn't mean it has to be boring; logos can be unique without being overdrawn. When I create logos, I try not to put too much detail into the concept.
Think about it on a highway billboard: when cars are zooming past at 70 miles an hour, will they still be able to recognize your logo, or even be able to tell what it is? Look at the McDonald's and Apple logos – they’re very simple, and can be recognized from a distance.
Choosing colors to use for your logo and brand also fall into this category. Not sure where to start? Check out my blog post about how to choose colors for your brand. Too many colors will make a busy and confusing logo, so be careful not to overdo it - keep it to 3 or 4 colors (I generally only use two in my logo designs). If lots of colors are a must, use logical combinations and remember the principles of color psychology.
Simple fonts are a must. Using too many fonts and font styles in your design will lead to a busy look. This makes it difficult for your audience to understand the message you're trying to convey. Choose fonts that are easy to read and fit the personality of your company (yes, fonts have personalities too).
Trends come and go, but a logo should endure the ages. Will your logo still be effective in 10, 20, or 50 years? If you look at the history of the Coca-Cola logo, it hasn't changed much since 1885. Designing your logo based on current trends will leave it looking dated and slightly amateur, especially as it ages. Ignore the flavor of the month and think longevity. Typography is also subject to trends, so keep that in mind when choosing fonts.
Logos generally go on multiple platforms: websites, business cards, billboards, etc. This means a good logo should work on printed materials like business cards and signs, as well as various digital platforms like websites and mobile devices.
Since your logo will need to look great across different platforms, watch out about overdoing it with effects like drop shadows, outer glows, and gradients. Lots of effects may create a beautiful logo, but they generally won't translate well to different media platforms and sizes.
To keep your logo versatile, ask yourself: is the logo still effective if it's printed in one color, printed really small, or printed in reverse like a light logo on a dark background? If you answered yes to these, then BOOM—you have an effective logo. When I work on a logo, I start designing a black and white version first to make sure the logo works in its simplest form.
Think about logos you see associated with law firms. They have clean and simple lines paired with a traditional, strong serif font. Would a logo that shouts "We're a serious business!" be appropriate for other industries, like a children's bouncy-castle rental company? Uh, no.
I also want to be clear that a company's logo doesn’t need to show or even necessarily imply what the business does. The Marlboro logo doesn't have a cigarette, and BMW doesn't show a car - a logo is merely a form of identification for the company.
A good logo design represents your company and what your company stands for, and helps the general public identify you from a sea of competitors. Trust me, you want to stand out!
Do your research before you start your branding process. Know what appeals to your buyer persona and what will attract them. Tons of logos are created everyday and I’m sure you’ve seen them all: the good, the bad, and the ineffective. Want to cook up a good logo? Use all the right ingredients, and add a dash of your company’s personality to the mix, and you’ll get something magical.