What makes a great logo?

We asked our design team “What makes a great logo?” and this is what they had to say…

The word “logo” is Greek and can also mean “reason” or “plan”. In Greek philosophy and theology, it originated from the divine ‘reason’ implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning. These days a logo is more commonly known as a digital or print graphic that represents a company or business.

A great logo is at the heart of all great brands. It’s not easy creating an image that captures your vision and emphasises the strengths of your business. Every owner knows what their company stands for, but getting communicating it visually can be difficult.

We asked our print design team “What makes a great logo?” and this is what they had to say…

It’s simple

Good logos feature something unique without being overcomplicated. A simple logo allows for easy recognition and should be easy to describe. Most people can explain what the McDonalds, Nike and Adidas logos look like because they are simple, clear and eye-catching.

“While in college in the mid-70’s an instructor introduced me to the K.I.S.S. Principle of design; which translates to Keep It Simple, Stupid. It does convey a very important design consideration. Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client. A refined and distilled identity will also catch the attention of a viewer zipping by signage at 70 miles per hour, on packaging on the crowded shelves of a store, or in any other vehicle used for advertising, marketing and promotion. Remember, the basis of the hugely effective international branding for the world’s largest shoe manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh.”

– Jeff Fisher

It suits you

When designing a logo, you need to think about what it needs to do. The purpose and direction of a logo will depend on the type of company you are designing for and the personality you are trying to give it. Some logos are figureheads for their brand, such as KFC’s world-famous Colonel Sanders, whereas others provide a symbol of quality and prestige like the Mercedes Benz logo.

It’s versatile

A logo should work across print and digital applications and be able to complement different colours. It should be functional and generally, both horizontal and vertical formats should be created to suit all types of media. Ideally, a company logo should be adaptable to company stationery, internal and external correspondence and even corporate merchandise.

“I like to work first in black and white to ensure that the logo will look good in its simplest form. Colour is very subjective and emotional. This can distract from the overall design – say if you saw your logo in all red, that colour may be the first thing that you respond to and not the composition of the design elements. I will not even consider submitting colour suggestions to a client for review until they have signed off on a final black and white logo.”

– Patrick Winfield

It reaches the target audience

The target audience should help determine the style and tone of a logo. For example, if you’re running a beauty parlour, your target audience will likely be those who care about their appearance, so a big, bold logo with brash colours and blocky fonts wouldn’t be ideal. Likewise, a colourless, formal typeface wouldn’t suit a nursery or toy shop.

It reflects your offer

Your logo must represent your company as a whole. It should embrace your key products and services and be able to evolve to fit the new products and services you plan to add in the future.

“Surprising to many, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance, and even appropriateness of content does not always play a significant role. This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship between a symbol and what it symbolized is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, objectionable. Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.”
– Paul Rand