Branding & Design

What Makes a Good Logo?

05.13.2013 2 Minutes

Imagine Nike without the iconic swoosh. McDonald’s without the famous golden arches. Or Coca-Cola without its timeless red script. As with any successful brand, each of these logo marks has become synonymous with the company it represents.

A brand is often the most valuable asset of a corporation. And at the core of every brand is a logo. It’s often the first impression a customer has when landing on their website or handed a business card or viewing an email on a mobile device. The logo is the face of the company.

So what makes a good logo? We think the following attributes are important:

It should be simple. Back when branding meant something that you did to identify your herd from other herds, it was the one thing that was instantly recognizable when burned on to the backside of a steer. The ranch brand (or logo) had to be simple (for the cow’s sake if nothing else). The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse brand meaning “to burn.” It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark onto their products. The same concept holds true today.

It should be versatile. A good logo looks equally good on a website, in a tiny square box on Facebook or Twitter, embroidered on a hat, printed on a business card, etched on signage, from a distance on a billboard, etc.

It should be based on a single concept. A logo without a concept is a logo without a soul. It should convey what your organization stands for instead of what it does.

It should be distinctive. Does it really stand out in comparison to other organizations in the same space? Test it. Put them all together on a board or screen.

It should be timeless. Does it follow the latest trend for the sake of trying to look hip? How often can you afford to change your logo? Not as often as your clothes.

Is it effective without color? If the logo doesn’t work in black, color will not save it.

It should be well crafted. A good concept can be hidden by a poor rendering.

It should feel right. Not to everyone in the organization or everyone in your family—but to a few key stakeholders that have been part of the thought process and know the goals. Not everyone likes the same cup of coffee. What is the specific feeling or personality about your company that is important to communicate to your audience?

So what makes a powerful logo?

It should have heart. The heart hooks the mind. It is a right brain emotional connection that cannot be added using a formula. Heart is a difficult concept to articulate. You feel it or you don’t. When a logo connects on some positive emotional level it works harder for you. You work hard, why shouldn’t your logo? Human persuasion is very much a right-brain process. If you win the heart, the mind will follow. Do you choose a car based purely on the specifications? Most people pick a car based on first impression and then read up on it. If they really want it, they will probably ignore some of the shortcomings. To a point.

Your logo is the face of your company. What is your expression?

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So does a good logo guarantee success? A company’s success is not necessarily determined by their logo. However, nearly every successful company has a well-designed logo.

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