What Makes A Great Logo?

Ingredients for successful looks

This is from a series I did within my weekly newsletter called “The Creative Bit.” If you‘re you are interested in signing up for the newsletter (I would love for you to join), check it out here; no spam; only 1–2 emails a week talking about design things in a simple and raw way.

Photo by Luke Holloway on Unsplash

| Adaptability

How a logo adapts to its context is important. The success of it can be determined when it is tested within certain kinds of constraints. Depending on where the logo will primarily be used, a good logo should be able to adapt to as many different environments as possible; whether it be as small as sticker or as big as the symbol you see on a plane.

One Size Fits All

Starbucks

Take the Starbucks logo. As a coffee type company, they need the logo to fit across many different kinds of services. Coffee cups, coffee bags, Christmas ornaments, and gift cards. Fortunately, the logo works in all the necessary environments, it doesn‘t get lost at certain sizes.

Extending The Brand

When a logo adapts, it creates more opportunity for the brand to be seen. Sure, some might not see adaptability as an important trait; but I will argue that strength of a flexible logo creates more power for the brand as it can be extended into more kinds of environments.

Photo by Nick Jeffway on Unsplash

| Recognition

Another important characteristic in the value of a good logo is how people are able to recognize the design. This aspect of logo design is interesting because in order for it to achieve recognition, you need to not only have a crisp design; but you also need to know the brand and the audience that will be experiencing the logo.

The Brand and Its Audience

The brand and its audience is what the logo is going to be bringing together. In order for the design to be successful, you need to know the character of the brand and the type of audience the brand wants to capture. Once these line up, the logo mark becomes a kind of romance within the relationship. The audience is moved by the expression of the brand and becomes attached to it.
 
 When the audience is drawn to the brand, the logo leaves an imprint on their minds and certain emotions become attached to it. This results in people recognizing the design days after first seeing it — this is a logo doing its job well.

The Secret Ingredient

Simplicity. This is what makes designs achieve recognition. When the logo is simple, the easier it is going to be remembered. Simple can look like a minimal shape, a single concept, or a short name. The audience shouldn‘t end up confused when experiencing the design; and they also shouldn‘t need to look long and hard to be captured by the logo mark.

When the audience is drawn to the brand, the logo leaves an imprint on their minds and certain emotions become attached to it.

Nike

Let‘s talk about Nike. The recognition of the logo is high. It cuts through the noise of other logos with its swift motions, and it leaves a quick impression that is hard to forget. As a brand of action, it works perfectly; and it is instantly captured by those who want excitement, action, and style throughout their lives.

Powerful Weapon

A good logo can be very powerful when it is easily recognized and deeply captured by those who commit to be associated with it. In a way, it creates a distinct symbol of the tribe the brand wants to represent; and when the audiences becomes wrapped up after recognizing it, a brands influence can reach far and wide.

| Color & Shape

Some logos are known for their colors (e.g. Target, Home Depot), to where if there wasn‘t any color the logo would lose some of its significance. Regardless, from a logo mark point of view (brand aside), an effective logo should not rely solely on its color to be effective; it is all about its shape.

Mark Making

Most of the time when a logo design process is under way, a lot of the designs are going to (or should be) be in black and white; and I cannot tell you how important that is. When a logo
 is designed in black and white, the focus and decisions being made are all made on the mark itself.

The emotion of the design, the recognition of the logo, and the adaptability can all be easily judged when a logo is in black and white. It‘s raw, there‘s no cognitive noise, and the strength of the logo can be molded easier when its at its basic form. The design should already be good before color fills its spaces.

IBM

An example of a successful logo is IBM. With their branding, they represent a deep comfortable blue that anyone can recognize. But take a look under the hood, strip the color away, and the design still runs strongly.

The logo still stands strong when it‘s vulnerable, all makeup removed, and the significance is still there.

Strength In Form

I don‘t want to make color insignificant, because color can be be super powerful. But, at the logo‘s purest form there is only its shape. When that shape is focused to be molded into something great, then color can be the companion the design needs.

| Timelessness

The timelessness of a logo design is the great power all logos should achieve. When a design is timeless, it passes on through time without become irrelevant or insignificant.

When Trend Is Not A Factor

To achieve a timeless logo, one has to consider the design and try to imagine it in future times. Will the design withstand the coming years as design changes very quickly? One factor that can be dangerous is having a logo that relies too much on the current trends. If a logo depends too much on the current design trends, it fails to have a foundation that allows it to stand through time.

Union Pacific

The union specific logo has gone through some changes in its history, but the timelessness of its final iteration is on point. This final design, that was created in 1968, has lasted to what we see it today (there was one change, but its so minor that you can barely notice).

If a logo depends too much on the current design trends, it fails to have a foundation that allows it to stand through time.

It doesn‘t feel cheap, there is somewhat of a retro vibe but it isn‘t outdated, and most importantly it still has an impactful presence.

Withstanding Time

A logo can be sturdy when it can achieve a timeless value. A lot of factors come into play that influence the design too. The brand itself, its culture, and its kind of work, will influence the timelessness of a logo design; and those should all be aligned. Regardless, a timeless logo can set itself a part from the rest of its competition. The design does not rely on safe trends like most do’; they are forward thinking in their impact and bold in making an impression.

| The Brand

A very important component in making a good logo is making sure it aligns with the brand. With all the decisions being made toward the aesthetics and design throughout the process, they all should have the intention of uplifting what the brand believes in and its goals. If the logo misses this mark, it can really have negative consequences in representing its business.

Making Sense

The final logo design needs to make sense for the the brand to be represented the best way possible. From the colors, typography, symbols used, and form, it should be in tune with the emotion and characteristics of the company it is representing.

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

A corporate logo wanting to be classy probably shouldn‘t be using a combination of elements to make it seem very casual and toned down; it doesn‘t make sense

Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz logo is a good example for a design that makes sense. It is a luxury car maker that presents itself as making the best premium cars. With the brand‘s emotion of conquering all kinds of travel, the logo elevates those traits with its far reaching star as well as its characteristics of premium class and power.
 
 The logo strikes strong when integrated into the brands cars, there isn‘t any conflict in the representation. The design is aligned right and the brand benefits from that in the strong perception it gives off

Alignment Is Balancing

Making sure the logo design is aligned with its brand takes a lot of balancing. That is a lot of what the process is when it comes to the designing part. Weighing styles here and there by adding elements or removing them; it requires a good idea of the brand position and a clear idea of where they want to go.

Photo by Nick van den Berg on Unsplash
it requires a good idea of the brand position and a clear idea of where they want to go.

The power in an aligned logo can take the brand far in its perception and influence. A logo can look nice but not be aligned with a brand which then results to a bad logo doing the wrong things, but a logo that is designed well and finely executed towards the brand‘s business goals brings a lot of power and distinction to the business and its work.

Mix Well & Be Consistent

The combinations of these elements will lead to a successful logo. Logo design is a dance between aesthetics and business strategy. The design should be clear and sturdy while expressing the brand in a distinguished way. It is a messy process, but when the ingredients are mixed well and the decisions are consistent then the design can resolve to a success.