What makes a great logo design?

Our designers discuss what makes a logo design work...

A great logo won’t determine whether your business sinks or swims; but it will certainly provide a fantastic springboard. A logo gives the outside a world an instant visual impression of your brand; a good one is worth a thousand words, and plenty more besides.

It’s not easy conjuring an image that captures your vision and emphasises your company’s strengths. Every entrepreneur has a picture in their own head of what their company stands for, but how does one commit this picture to paper? This question has baffled entrepreneurs since ancient times, when Romans and Egyptians daubed adverts onto walls and posters.

To help you turn the image in your head into a commercial reality, we asked our designers what exactly makes a great logo. They came up with seven different answers, each of which is equally valid. When you’re designing your logo, you may wish to use these ‘magnificent seven’ characteristics as a checklist, to measure the potency and viability of your image.

1. It is unique

If you copy other logos, or go for a design which has already been popular, it won’t fly. At best, people will think you are cheap and unoriginal. At worst, other companies will sue you. So it really doesn’t pay to nick someone else’s idea; and it’s far more fun to come up with your own.

2. It can be described

A good logo is always easy to describe. Pretty much everyone can explain what the McDonalds, Nike and Adidas logos look like, because the images are simple, clear and eye-catching.

If you want to generate word of mouth around your logo, people need to be able to talk about it – it’s crucial that you allow your followers to tell their friends about you.

3. It suits your purpose

When designing your logo, you need to think clearly about what you want it to do. The purpose of your logo will depend on the type of company you are, and the effect you are trying to achieve.

Some logos serve as a figurehead for their brand, such as KFC’s world-famous Colonel Sanders. Others provide a symbol of aspirational exclusivity, like the Audi or Mercedes badges. Some are little more than a visual signature, such as a Kellogg’s ‘K’. 

4. It suits your target audience

Your audience should determine the style and tone of your logo. If, for example, you’re running a bodybuilding gym,  your target audience will probably be men with a macho edge; a delicate logo with subtle colours and elaborate fonts probably won’t cut the mustard here. Likewise a grown-up, colourless typeface won’t suit a business aimed at kids, like a nursery or toy shop.

5. It works across your target media

If you advertise in, or contribute to a variety of print and online media, your logo will need to be extremely versatile. If your logo relies on colour, it may lose its effectiveness in black and white; equally, if it’s highly detailed, it may lose some of its effect when you shrink it down.
Ideally, you should be able to adapt your logo to company stationery, internal and external correspondence, and even corporate merchandise.

6. It reflects your entire offering

Your logo must represent your whole company; not just a part of it. It must embrace all your key products and services, not just a few of them. And it must be able to evolve to fit the products and services you plan to add in the future.

7. It defines your key characteristics

Think about your company’s mission statement – what are your core values? What do you want your business to achieve? Think about your achievements so far, and your key strengths. Each of these core features and attributes make up your company’s DNA, and should play a crucial role in shaping your logo.

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