Does Your Logo Work for You? Three Principles of Effective Logos

Does Your Logo Work for You? Three Principles of Effective Logos

Nike, McDonald’s, Starbucks. These logos popped into your head instantly, didn’t they? They should; they’re iconic. They can stand alone without the company name or complex advertisements. Your logo is your identity, unique to your brand. Make sure it speaks for itself.

Before you go to the drawing board to give your logo a makeover, here are some guidelines to guarantee your logo is a knockout. The purpose is not just to look pretty. It needs to be practical, too!

Your logo needs to be adaptable.

While this is more of a technical (*ahem* boring) principle, it’s something that is often overlooked in favor of flashy, and ultimately complicated, designs. As branding touchpoints become more accessible than ever, even to small businesses, your logo needs to be able to adapt to a variety of sizes and applications. On any given day, your customers will see your logo in a magazine ad, as the profile picture on your social media account, embroidered on the uniforms your employees wear, on the free pen or tube of chapstick they accumulated from an event, or blown up five feet tall on a billboard going 60 MPH down the highway. Regardless of the format or environment, your logo needs to be recognizable and retain the same qualities that make it effective.

In addition to adapting to scale and application, your logo should also be able to adapt as trends come and go. What looks trendy and current today can look dated and out-of-touch next year. Will your logo still convey what it needs to 10 years from now? (And yes, a logo should last *at least* 10 years.)

Your logo needs to be distinct.

Seeing a great logo can make designing something memorable seem like a simple task – one of those “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that!” moments. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as it seems. Your first idea is likely everyone else’s too. And when you fall back on those first ideas and industry clichés, you’re bound to end up with a generic logo that gets lost in the mix. Think of your logo as your signature. Like a signature, logos serve to identify you, not describe what you do. Apple’s logo isn’t a computer, Starbucks isn’t a cup of coffee, and Ford isn’t a car. So instead of explaining what you provide, think about how you want your brand to make someone feel.

Your logo needs to be relevant.

While a logo should be distinct, it shouldn’t be unique just for the sake of being unique. Your logo and positioning still need to be aligned to your market. Think about the differences between Nike and Dior. They are both fashion brands, but their logos are vastly different because their audiences are vastly different. Nike is a contemporary athletic brand, and their simple and dynamic “swoosh” icon visually represents that energy perfectly. On the other hand, Dior is a luxury fashion house, so a sophisticated and modern logotype helps establish their brand aesthetic. Utilize what sets your business apart from your competition and highlight those factors to differentiate yourself while remaining pertinent.

  • If your differentiating factor is the quality of your products, your brand should highlight luxury and craftsmanship. Think jewel tones, a high contrast serif logotype, and stylized product photography.
  • If your differentiating factor is the cutting-edge technology you work with, your brand should highlight knowledge and innovation. Think high-contrast colors, a modern and clean font, and lots of negative space.
  • If your differentiating factor is the convenience of your services, your brand should highlight charm and approachability. Think bright colors, a slab-serif font, and hand-drawn illustrations.

Now that you know what separates a good logo from a great one, go look at your own logo and ask yourself, “Is this how I want my company to be identified?” Keep these guiding principles in mind as you review your logo. You may be right on the mark, or it may be time for an update.

You’ve learned. You’ve reviewed. What’s next?

Great, your logo meets all of the above criteria! Let’s take it a step further.

Congrats on having a great logo! But as important as a logo is, it’s just a part of your business’s brand. Let’s work together to develop your brand and marketing strategy!

Oh shoot – I need a logo that works! 

Don’t fret! We offer (effective) logo design services! Contact us and we’ll get started!