The answer is actually pretty simple, but the practice of achieving a good, or even a great logo is not a simple process. That said, there are multiple criteria for a logo, and good logos will achieve some of these. However, great logos will achieve all of these. Below, I’ll break down the elements of what make up good logos, and I’ll elaborate on why, so that you hopefully will gain a full understanding of what makes a good and a great logo.
What Goes Into a Good Logo Design?
Logo design needs to meet a multitude of criteria. From being memorable, appropriate, simple, and relevant, to also appealing to, and connecting with the target audience. It should also distinguish the brand, business or product in a meaningful way through a sea of competitors. None of these are an easy task, and may take days, even weeks of research to begin conceptualizing – way before a designer takes to their Adobe suite to begin the digital design.
For a logo to really stand any chance of making an impact that a business or brand want’s is needs to hit on a few things first.
A good logo must be:
While these elements will make up a most logos, truly great logos hit on a few more key elements that really make the difference between a good and a great logo. Let’s break down all the elements from here, and why they’re necessary components for logos to succeed versus ones that don’t.
All logos should be distinguishable, but this is at times a fine balancing act. For example; If you’re a software service company, there’s an industry norm around what’s visually appealing to your ideal clientele, and what’s accepted. Often this would be bright blues, clean, and modern design. We only need to picture companies like Zoom, Microsoft, and Dropbox to name a few. They have clean, minimalistic logos, use blue, and maintain a generally modern, minimalist logos and brand design.
So if these are acceptable traits, how does a logo stand out? There are multiple ways to be distinguishable. I like to think of distinguishing as differentiation. How would I differentiate a logo against competitors, or others in a broader field – that of a software service company? Often, logo designers will help differentiate or distinguish a logo from others in the industry with color and shape. Sometimes even breaking industry standards is a good thing. Yet, design decisions for a logo need to be carefully considered in order to remain appropriate for the logo, business, and brand goals.
This was an important trait to open on, as creating a distinguishable logo relies heavily on many of the other traits on this page.
A logo needs to be appropriate for many reasons. Most importantly, for two. One, a solid logo will resonate or appeal to the intended demographic. Two, it makes sense for the business and brand strategy. There’s no sense in a business with a primary male focus to use pinks and soft pastel colors. Just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to create a delicate, feminine themed logo for the same target audience.
Good design must be relevant, and it must be relevant to the ideal audience, and be relevant to the business and brand. When a logo isn’t relevant, you will literally feel disconnected from the business and brand. I’m sure you can think of some logos right now that have this effect on you?
One of the most important things is simplicity. Good logos are simple, and they’re simple for a few reasons. Most importantly, they should be simple so they can be understood or read easily. If a logo has too much text, the design is difficult to see at first, or people just can’t understand it, they can’t build a connection with it, and it becomes very off-putting. Not to mention that people will just glance over it because it’s not professional.
If you’re investing in professional logo design, you’re likely spending multiple thousands of dollars because you want to be viewed as more professional, among other things. The old saying “less is more” has never been more true than in the design field.
A logo should create a great impression, a memorable one – and to create a memorable impression you might want to be distinguishable, appropriate (or maybe inappropriate if it’s applicable to the business or brand), and simple. Good logos will be memorable not because they are logos, but because they are good logos. They will be distinguishable, appropriate, and simple. Simplicity is easy to recall, isn’t confusing, and conveys the idea quickly and effectively.
If people can look at your logo for a few seconds and then recall it fairly accurately at a later time, it’s easily memorable, and a very good sign of a solid logo. Given your logo is hitting on basic color and design principles.
What Makes a Great Logo?
There’s a difference between a good and a great logo. Some of the biggest brands that exist today have great logos – but more often than not, they had a bad logos before they had a good, or even great one. So what makes a logo go from good to great?
A great logo will also be:
We’ve all seen logos that just look dated. It might be the style, colors, or perhaps the entire design itself. Some of the most successful logs today are timeless in their design. This means that they don’t follow trends. In fact, good design doesn’t actually follow trends, but it often sets them. It’s somewhat Ironic that good design is imitated.
If you were to think of some of your favorite brands, I’m sure you’d likely find that their logos are timeless. What they look like now wouldn’t look out of place in another fifty, one-hundred, or even three-hundred years. Great logo design is designed (literally) to withstand time and represent the brand and business, or product for as long as possible. This, at times can be a very challenging task for designers. Often, a timeless logo took many revisions over many years to become what it is today.
Sadly, there’s been a trend in logo design recently where many companies are simplifying logos more and more, becoming detached in some instances from what their original logo was, and breaking connections with their ideal audience. This is one of many considerations that logo designers face when it comes to redesigning or refreshing a logo, and why creating a timeless logo can be so difficult.
A lot of designers often confuse versatility with practicality. It’s practical to expect a logo to be used on business cards, letterheads, websites, shirts and more. Though, a versatile logo will either work at multiple sizes while remaining clear and identifiable, even when scaled down to the size of something like a postage stamp.
Versatility is not adaptability. An adaptable logo is a logo which has a particular design that may not work well when scaled down. As such, a designer will create another, or multiple versions of the logo which remain consistent in style with the primary logo, and allow the brand to utilize alternative logos, or adaptable logos, because they don’t have a versatile one. Often, it’s older brands that require an adaptable logo. Though, at times, a designer may choose to further simplify a logo design for use at smaller sizes to achieve consistency, remain appropriate or distinguishable.