A logo is a key branding component that accomplishes several things for your business. For starters, your logo functions as the core of your brand. It plays a significant role in influencing the public’s perceptions of your business. It inspires trust, loyalty, and admiration from your customers. It identifies and differentiates your business from the competition. Lastly, a logo works to attract your ideal customers. In order to make the most out of your logo, you will need a great logo.
What makes a logo great? While designers may have similar approaches to the creative process, there really isn’t a straightforward or standard procedure to achieving logo design success. However, there are 10 fundamental characteristics that make a logo great.
Related: How to Create Better Logos
1. It Reflects Your Brand
A great logo visually communicates your brand. For example, a jewelry store would stay away from using neon colors, casual fonts, or cutesy icons. Why? Because these are not consistent with the image the brand wants to portray. A jewelry business wants to be associated with luxury, sophistication, and high-quality. So, instead its logo needs to use elegant and conservative design elements that advocate that brand image.
“A logo doesn’t sell (directly), it identifies.” – Paul Rand
2. It is Appropriate
A great logo is designed to appeal to your target customer. For instance, Toys ‘R’ Us uses a rainbow of colors in its logo and a playful font; elements that naturally appeal to kids. A logo doesn’t necessarily have to describe your business or products. The key is to use design elements such as color and fonts that resonate with the target customer. An appropriate logo makes your brand relatable, creates a deeper bond with your target customers, and communicates the meaning of the brand as a whole.
“A logo is rarely a description of a business.” – Paul Rand
Related: The Logo Design Process
3. It is Simple
A great logo capitalizes on simplicity. In a crowded marketplace, a simple logo is more easily recognizable, stands out from the crowd, and promotes memorability. “The only effective antidote to clutter is simplicity,” explains author Luke Sullivan. Good examples of clean and simple logos include Apple, Nike, IBM, and Target to mention a few.
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” - Lindon Leader
4. It is Versatile
A great logo can be used in any application. Whether it is printed on a business card, used on a website, embroidered on a shirt, applied to a promotional item, or displayed on a billboard, the logo should be flexible and look consistently good regardless of where it’s used. It should also work in both color and black & white applications. A pro tip is to design the logo in black & white first to focus on form. Color comes after the design is perfected.
“The worst logo applied well is better than the best logo applied poorly.” – Jacob Cass
5. It is Scalable
A great logo is designed keeping in mind that it will be used on a variety of applications. Therefore, it needs to be scalable. When a logo is scalable, it looks good no matter what size it is, whether it is displayed on a small mobile screen or on a large banner. Professional designers know that this means that the logo should be designed as a vector and not a raster image. A vector can be scaled to any size without it ever losing its shape or resolution. Raster images use a limited number of pixels and do not scale well.
6. It Differentiates
A great logo differentiates your business from others. In a crowded marketplace, finding a way to be different from your competitors is critical. Without a unique logo you risk confusing your brand with others and becoming forgettable. For example, Apple and Windows are both computer brands, however each has a distinctive logo that communicates different messages and emotions.
“Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company.” – Saul Bass
7. It is Timeless
A great logo will stand the test of time. Choose logo elements such as typography, colors, and icons that genuinely represent your business and not current trends. It’s far more important to aim for longevity than it is to be trendy. A great example of a timeless logo is that of Coca Cola. For more than 100 years it has kept its logo the same red and white using that iconic script font.
“Leave trends to the fashion industry… but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.” – David Airey
8. It is Memorable
A great logo leaves a lasting impression on your customers. Memorability is achieved by applying the principles of simplicity and appropriateness. Memorable logos are those that can be recalled easily, are consistent with your brand, and support the message and values of the business. Inc.com recently listed the top 10 most memorable logos, and the top 5 in descending order are Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Google.
“Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear” - Paul Rand
9. It Commands Attention
A great logo uses design elements and tricks to intuitively attract the customer’s attention. For example, a great technique used to capture the attention of people is to use cusps. According to On Marketing, “Cusps are sharp, pointy shapes that trigger feelings of fear, danger and caution.” Therefore, cusps subconsciously command human attention. Think of logos such as Nexxus, Apple, Pepsi, and Maleficent.
“There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
10. It is Meaningful
A great logo communicates meaningful characteristics of your business. Whether they are related to your mission, your history, or your core values, a logo that has a special significance for your business will tell a more compelling story to your customers. For example, Amazon’s mission to provide customers with the best selection of products and utmost convenience is illustrated in the logo via the orange smile / arrow connecting the “A” and “z”. The arrow communicates the fact that Amazon has everything from a to z, and that convenience makes people smile. Other examples of great logos with meaning include the WWF, Fedex, and Baskin Robbins.
“A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like.” – Paul Rand
If you want your customers to take your business seriously, then invest in creating a great logo that tells them you are indeed serious about your business. This is one of those things that you cannot afford to skimp on or neglect. A solid initial investment will be worth every penny for years to come.
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