What Makes a Great Logo

Four Critical Qualities that Nobody Talks About

Jeff Davidson
The Startup
Published in
10 min readJan 18, 2019

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What Makes a Great Logo?

With the unveiling of the new Slack logo which has caught a lot of buzz, I decided to expound on some of the qualities of a great logo that nobody talks about. Let me preface this by saying this isn’t another article about logo design. While any of these ‘rules’ can potentially be broken, they do offer insight into what is a very important part of a business—the commissioning and selection of the visual stimuli that represent it. One of the reasons it is so important is because a logo or brand ‘pivot’ can cost a considerable amount of time and money, especially with companies who deal physical products. For these reasons, it’s best to try and get it right the first time. Once you commit to a logo and brand, you’ve committed to the business.

First, let’s go over the basic logo truths. The general consensus among designers is that logos should be unique, scalable, simple, and work well in monochrome. This is all sound practice, and this article does not argue against any of these mantras. That being said, there is more to gauge quality than these common prerequisites.

With the growing use of tools like 99designs and sites like Upwork—finding awesome logo work is actually quite difficult in the age of the internet. Huge corporations and even medium-sized businesses are difficult to penetrate for an agency, and startups often want to stay lean and outsource their work. Also, due to the digitization of design, we often see less creative forms because graphics rendering programs afford linear forms such as squares, triangles, and simple ovals. In other words, illustrative uniqueness isn’t as popular now because paper and pen (hand, not mouse) skills are actually declining per capita.

What is the Function of a Logo?

To understand what a great logo is, we must first consider its purpose. A logo is essentially a tool for conditioning. Businesses need a way to differentiate their products and services from their competitors, and they do this through unique stylization of the packaging, advertisements, and messages that they offer. If logos and branding didn’t exist, there would be no way to easily indicate who you were buying from. We would be stuck reading every single label and description…

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Jeff Davidson
The Startup

I help companies convert and retain more users · Get free design + strategy lessons on my site: http://jeffdavidsondesign.com/