What makes a good logo?

“A logo is a visual piece in a bigger brand identity system. A logo embodies and transports the meaning of a brand, the logo is rarely the meaning itself.” (Tobias van Schneider)

We are surrounded by logos. Some have been around for decades and some are relatively recent additions. But they are all part and parcel of our everyday world.

And if you think of just how many there are out there, how many can you actually recall?

The ones that spring to mind immediately, for example Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple and McDonald’s, are all examples of good logo design.

So what exactly is it that makes these logos good, if not, great?

Here are just a few thoughts:


1. Simplicity

KISS is a well-known acronym which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. And this is none-more-true when it comes to logo design. The simpler the better. Overly-fussy design which requires a bit too much thinking time will fall by the wayside quickly.

A good logo should be able to be described in an instant, like the Nike Swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches. If you stumble over the description – “it’s looks a bit like a man but it might be a woman and they are holding something” – well, it’s clearly not doing its job!

A good logo is easily recognizable, memorable and effective. Which leads nicely on to…

2. Timeless/Distinctive

With the amount of packaging and advertising surrounding us on a daily basis, logos can sometimes start to become wallpaper. So to stand out from the crowd and not be the grey man, your logo has to be distinctive. Not just rehashing something that has been done before. Or plumping for the most obvious solution. And certainly not including overly-used icons (think lightbulbs and leaping people). Dare to be a little bit different. This will make your logo more memorable and easily recognizable (see point 1).

Don’t feel tied to represent the sector you are in, for example, Apple doesn’t show a computer, Mercedes is not a car and Virgin Atlantic is not a plane! A good statistic here is that 94% of logos don’t describe what the company does! (Jacob Cass).

Try not to jump on to the latest trends because trends change and suddenly your logo can look outdated and not relevant. Try to aim for a timeless solution. Coca-Cola is a great example. The classic flowing script has hardly changed at all since its launch. Whilst its direct competitor, Pepsi, has undergone many iterations and, in my opinion, still not quite nailed it!

3. Versatile

A good logo has to work across all mediums: horizontal; vertical; one color; small scale; large scale; reversed out. Logos which have too much detail (see point 1) will not work when made small. Detail gets lost and everything starts to look like a bit of a blob. There needs to be options for all eventualities. You know when a logo is good because you can put it on just about anything and it looks like it always belonged there.

Another thing to remember is that it needs to be easily used by everyone. If it requires a manual the size of War & Peace to show how to use it, chances are it’s not really working too well! KISS again!

4. Appropriate

Is the logo appropriate to the end user? Dainty looking fonts and pinks for a gym logo aren’t really speaking to guys who like to bench press small cows for a hobby. It may be good for a ladies only gym. But you get the idea.

You also need to think about colour here too. A little bit of research will show that there are certain colours in certain cultures which send out different messages from what we are used to. For example, in the Middle East, orange is associated with mourning and loss and yellow in Asian cultures is considered as sacred and imperial. So do a little bit of homework beforehand.

Does your logo design need a refresh? Get in contact with us to discuss how we can help you.