Logos are an excellent tool for creating brand recognition and attracting your target audience. They’re one of the best means for telling people what your business does and how it stands out from the competition.
In general, there are two parts to a logo: a graphic and a word mark. Some logos only have one of these elements. The ones with just a graphic are usually very recognizable brands, such as Apple, that can get away without needing to include the company name in the logo. Many, such as Google, only use the company name, in some sort of stylized manner. Most include both components.
So what makes a logo good or even great? Following are some characteristics:
1. Easily reproduced by hand, from memory
Think of Nike or McDonald’s. Bet you could draw those logos in Pictionary, with no trouble.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be perfectly symmetrical. But it should feel even — not too heavy on one side or “flimsy.”
3. The owner(s) of the company like it
This may sound obvious, but it’s really important that the owner feels that the logo accurately represents the values of the business. They should feel comfortable with it and proud to show it off.
4. Unique, perhaps even clever
A logo should not look like everyone else’s, especially not the competition’s. If people have to examine it for a minute to “get” it, that’s usually a good thing. That quality can create a buzz. One of the most famous examples of this, of course, is the FedEx logo. First time you saw it, you probably didn’t think too much of it. But when you realized there’s a hidden arrow in the white space between the “E” and “x” you were impressed and realized how brilliant that concept was and maybe even shared it with your friends.
5. Smart colour choices
The psychological effects of colour should play a huge role in the logo design. Different colours elicit different emotional responses — calmness, confidence, vitality, etc. And certain colours fit your message and values better than others. Although it may be cliché, it kind of goes without saying that an eco-business would almost undoubtedly want to include green (and possibly blue) in its logo.
It’s important to keep in mind which colours “go” with other colours — e.g., whether they’re analogous or complementary. And, it’s likely essential to consider where the logo will appear. If it’s predominantly going to be displayed on a white background, using pale yellow as the primary colour is probably not the best choice.
Focusing on the target audience should provide a good sense as to what to — and not to — include in the logo. For example, you might love the shape of a pine tree. However, if you sell dog food, that’s probably not the most relevant image to associate with your business, whereas it might be for an environmentally-friendly clothing line. Likewise, if you run a financial planning company, the colours of the rainbow will likely not be suitable for your logo, whereas they would be for a daycare. Same goes for font choices. Just about the only time you would consider using Comic Sans in a logo would be for a children-focused business.
A good logo should stand the test of time. Of course it’s hard to predict what will be “in” in the future. But that’s all the more reason to not incorporate the latest trends. Coca-Cola’s logo, for instance has stayed the same for a hundred years, whereas Pepsi’s has changed several times.
It’s imperative to consider how and where the logo will be used. Although it may look great full-size on a large monitor, how does it look scaled down to a couple inches on a website or business card? Often a lot of detail gets lost at smaller sizes. Conversely, does it look good blown up, if it’s going to appear on something big like a billboard?
Shape should also be a consideration. A tall logo may look great on the side of a building, but if it needs to be shrunk down to fit a small vertical space — again, like at the top of a website — that shape may not work so well.
Many factors need to be taken into account when designing an appropriate logo for a business. Following the above guidelines should result in something that perfectly represents the organization and is suitable for all its needs for years.
If you’re going to have a logo designed for your business, see what other companies — especially your competition — are doing both good and bad. And make sure your designer takes all of the above characteristics into account when creating yours.