A logo is an intrinsic part of any business image. A well-designed logo does wonders for a company’s brand, and a bad one can do a lot of damage.
Logos are a common area of graphic design. Many an art student’s first project is to design a simple logo for himself or herself or a fictional business. The perfect logo can be frustratingly elusive, though.
Some wonder what’s so difficult about creating a good logo. They’re small, they look easy to do, so no problem, right? When you only see the result of a designer’s efforts, the logo creation can look like it was a simple task.
But, it’s not. A logo takes thought and creativity, and many elements combine to make a good one. You know that good logo when you see it. Here’s some of what goes into one:
Creating a logo that fits a business brand takes a great deal of consideration before the first line is drawn. A designer brings many elements together to capture the essence of the brand, blending it all into an image that will be everlasting through time, just like the business.
A good logo needs to to encompass the brand and marketing message the company wants to send to consumers. For example, when you see the Harley shield, you can sense the “cool” that might be associated with their motorcycles.
Unique and well designed logos are unforgettable. Some logos are too plain or not symbolic enough for consumers to easily associate them with the brand. How impactful is a white dot, for example? Now think of Google’s logo – big difference, right?
Memorability means that when a viewer spots the logo, he or she can easily recall which company, service or business owns that image. Think of the World Wildlife Federation’s panda, the “I (heart) NY” logo or the Olympic rings.
A good logo is appealing, stirring emotions to heighten the positive image of the business in question. For example, have you ever heard a new song and thought you didn’t like it? What happened after you saw the kick-ass video a week later? Did you start to change your mind about liking the song? That’s the power of visual appeal.
An ugly logo is going to turn people off or attract the wrong kind of attention. One excellent example is the logo designed for the 2012 Olympics in London. It’s a wonder it didn’t cause riots in the street, and it has unfortunately taken away some of the glory that goes into the Olympic games.
Graphics have to be versatile enough that they can be used in many different mediums. A good logo has to work well on the web, on letterhead, in print ads, and in video. Good graphic designers know that what looks great in a site banner might not work on a brochure or vice versa, so they carefully craft a logo that looks good no matter what.
Size matters. If a logo on the web has too much detail, reducing its size for a business card might give you nothing more than a blob.
Colors are a tricky element, too. RGB is very different from CMYK, for example, and they’re used in different mediums. Where RGB looks rich and vibrant, print colors may pale in comparison, losing some of their punch. A full-color logo may not translate well to black and white or grayscale, either.
A good logo withstands the test of time. It may need some touchups to keep it fresh and prevent it from looking dated our out of style, but that’s all it should require. Changing your logo when it already has memorability in place is bad for your branding. You want one logo that works for as long as it can.
Two good examples are the logos for the Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima. Both have gone through quite a few facelifts over the years to stay up to date, but the integrity of the original logos hasn’t changed drastically, though both companies are over 8 decades old.
Other logos like those for major television networks in the United States (ABC, CBS, NBC) have been updated over the years, but you can still look at their logos from 50 years ago and recognize the similarities.
If you have a logo for your business, take a look at it. Does it pass these five tests? What are your favorite logos out there? Which do you hate?