What Makes a Good Logo?

by Tobias van Schneider first appeared ✍🏼 on my personal blog

Tobias van Schneider
Desk of van Schneider
6 min readMay 12, 2017

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Whenever a company changes their logo, the Internet, especially those who design themselves seem to be outraged. I could count many examples, but most of them are already forgotten. And this kind of proves the larger point of this article.

Michael Beirut once talked about how design nowadays feels like a spectator sport. Few players on the field doing the work, but millions judging and screaming on the side lines.

Generally, there is nothing wrong with this. I think it’s good to critique and be critiqued. The only difference is the way we do it. And especially trying to find a collective understanding of knowing what makes a logo a good or a bad one.

In reality though, very few of us know or fully understand how it works. Those who do are usually quiet and observe.

I’m always surprised by especially the outrage of the design community. We are the ones that should know that we just can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The cover of the book might be important to some degree, but if the book is really good, it won’t make a difference. And of course I’m not saying that the design of a book cover doesn’t matter, but it’s just a tiny piece in the puzzle.

A logo is a visual piece in a bigger brand identity system. A logo embodies & transports the meaning of a brand, the logo is rarely the meaning itself.

A logo mark just on it’s own is almost worthless. It’s almost impossible to judge the emotional value of a neutral logo mark. If you would look at the Apple or Nike logo before these companies existed, you would have had close to zero emotional reaction to these symbols.

The only way you could have judged Apple’s logo would be based on your personal relationship with the object it is representing. So in case of Apple, you would have probably judged the logo based on the fact that you either love or hate the taste of Apples. Or the fact that Apples have little to do with a technology company. (at least to your knowledge)

Of course this works only with pictorial logo marks such as Apple, Starbucks or…

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