I would like to take a moment to wax poetic on logos. I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for months now. It’s been on my mind since April and at this point it’s become more like a pebble in my shoe. On top of that, I recently agreed to freelance a logo for a friend – so it’s a good time to re-examine what makes an outstanding logo. Time to get this pebble out!
It’s safe to say that I appreciate logos more than your average person, and that’s because I know what it takes to go from just your company’s name on paper, to a distinct visual identity.
There are 5 attributes that are fundamental in any quality logo:
- A solid foundation – This is the first and most important attribute of a strong logo. Every logo needs to start with the essentials: an appropriate font, a strong layout, the right color(s), and an optional graphic symbol. If any of these basic building blocks are weak – the logo doesn’t stand a chance.
- Clean & simple – Sometimes a good logo is nothing more than a specific font and color scheme (example: Google, ABC). That’s all some brands need. The beauty of a simple logo is that they’re easier to remember. A logo should be easy to read, and should never look too crowded or busy. Additionally, while gradients and reflections have become standard over the past couple of years, effects should only be used to enhance a logo, not define it. More importantly, effects don’t translate well across all mediums and constraints, which limits your flexibility. This leads me to my next point…
- Flexibility – This one is important because whether it’s big or small, full color or grayscale, on screen or in print – your logo needs to communicate the same message in any scenario. A logo should never be limited by factors you can’t control.
- Stampability – Okay, that word might be made up. Allow me to clarify. Let’s face it – the best logos have a strong element that is both simple and memorable (think Nike’s swoosh, or Apple’s apple). These logos can work anywhere, (in the corner of an ad; used as a watermark) your opportunities for brand reinforcement increase trifold [see flexibility].
- Cleverness – This last one is really just for bonus points. Subtle nuances such as utilizing negative space or enhancing a shape within a letter can really bring a logo to the next level. The reason it’s only bonus points is because it isn’t always feasible or appropriate. These details need to seem as if they emerged naturally and should never be forced. Last but not least, readability should never be sacrificed for cleverness.
A logo should speak volumes about your brand by conveying your company or product’s personality in a glance. If a logo is effective, it makes a lasting impression on anyone who sees it – making it easier for them to think of you and your products or services.
Alright – I think I’ve nerded out enough on logos for one night. For part 2, I’ll be sharing my favorite logos and what I love about each one.