What Makes a Great Logo
by JSB Morse
If you are a consumer, or a marketer, or a CEO of a company looking for branding, you should be interested in logos. Logos are the centerpiece of a company’s brand image and can tell you a lot about the company. The quality of a logo can tell the consumer how much their image (and customer opinion) means to that company. The effectiveness of a logo can help sell whatever product or service that the company offers. Also, the beauty of a logo is something that the company can be proud of and identify with.
Branding is the most
important aspect of a company’s marketing strategy and should be
heavily considered. Companies that took their branding lightly during
their inception may suffer in the long run. This happens even if their
service or product is great, because their logo is unprofessional, confusing,
or offensive. Companies with bad logos may not be taken seriously or worse,
they may be made a butt of a joke.
This may be the most
obvious necessity for great logos. The logo must be soundly designed and
look good. The aesthetic appeal of a logo, or any piece of art or design
for that matter, is subjective and relative to a person’s mood when
they view the logo. However, there are fundamentals of design that must
be followed to ensure that a logo will appeal to anyone.
What may result otherwise
is a logo that looks like a third grader designed it. The story of the
child who designed the Nike logo is amusing, but it is false. In fact,
a design intern at Nike named Caroline Davidson came up with the idea
in 1971 for $35. But much more effort was put into the design after the
initial concept. The logo started as a simple design idea for a stripe
to be placed on a shoe that an economics professor designed. What resulted
was a universally known logo that works on apparel as well as the internet
or print designs.
Logos are the most important marketing pieces for a company because it must represent that company in many different contexts and still get the message across. A logo may be seen on the web, or on a variety of promotional products such as a brochure, a t-shirt, or on glassware. It could be used on dark backgrounds, on light backgrounds, on textured surfaces, or could be used in various sizes like on an awning or on a postcard. A major indication of a poorly designed logo is graphic effects that can be added in Photoshop like 3D embossing, shadows, glares, or photo imagery. It's important to know that simplicity does not mean that the logo is missing anything. In fact, to aid in functionality, the logo must be simple.
A great logo must have the ability to be printed or used in all of the contexts mentioned above and still represent the company effectively. A few things that are important when talking about functionality are the simplicity, scalability, color, and depth. It’s important to the functionality of a logo that it’s not too intricate and that it doesn’t incorporate things like gradients or shadows as integral parts of the design. When the logo is reduced in size or placed on a loud background, it should retain its integrity. In addition, the logo should allow for two color presentation, such as black on white, as it would be on a t-shirt.
A logo needs to represent
the company it serves. This means that the style must be easily identified
with the industry/product/service and must give a clear picture of what
is being marketed. If a company is selling auto parts, a delicate script
font would not capture the essence of the company. A suitable font would
be bold and sturdy-looking. A logo sets the tone for the company. This
applies to single-serving logos like Dasani or a multipurpose logo like
NBC. In the case of Dasani, we are given a clean, smooth, cold-looking
logo to represent water and with NBC we are given with a multicolored
peacock representing the different divisions of NBC. Originally the logo
was created to show enhancements in color broadcasting, also a good representation.
important trait of good logos is the the ability to stand out against
the crowd. Copycat logos are destined to fail or be confusing to the consumer.
Usually they will result in a loss in sales. When Pepsi Cola had a similar
logo to the already established Coca-Cola, it suffered in the competition
between the two soft drink companies. Only when Pepsi switched their brand
to something unique did they see a major increase in sales.
We've expanded the article to encompass a wider range of logos (including some important modern companies and even logo design company logos). If you'd like to see how your logo stacks up against the best, visit our logo critique page, and if you're looking for a brand new logo for your company or small business, please visit our affiliates at Communication Design.
View the top ten logos of all time.
We'd like to thank the readers for their very insightful comments, but would like to note a few things. The Thinker Logo does not incorporate the lens flare- that is part of the background for the site. With regard to the Sun Microsystems logo, we agree that the icon is clever, the entire logo is not consistent, thus fails in one of the major criteria for a great logo. The 7-Eleven logo, though a little rough on design principles meets the other criteria well.