5 Principles of Effective Logo Design

Logos are everywhere.

Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. In a time where we are saturated with an excess of visual stimulus, understanding what makes a good logo has never been more important.

So, what exactly is a logo?

At a very basic level, a logo is a symbol (text, image or both) to identify a brand.

A logo’s purpose is to identify. This is why it’s so important that a designer fully understand what the logo needs to represent before any creative work begins. Logo design and branding go hand-in-hand.

What makes a good logo?

Logo design essentially boils down to two things: concept and execution. Both of these factors need to be done well in order to be effective. A poorly executed concept won’t be understood. Likewise, a poor concept that’s well executed will lack meaning. A good logo needs a solid concept that’s well executed in order to be an effective communication tool.

Here are five principles of good logo design adapted from this article for Smashing Magazine written by Jacob Kass:

  1. Simple

    Simplicity allows a logo to be easily understood, work in a variety of applications, and be remembered. I like to challenge myself to communicate the simplest message in the simplest way (which is a lot harder than it sounds!).

  2. Memorable

    When a logo is simple in form, yet distinct, it’s easy to remember. This is also true of company names, which is why I encourage client’s with business names that are too complex or too generic to consider a rename. A good logo, like a good name, should be easy to understand, distinct, and memorable.

  3. Timeless

    Because a logo’s purpose is to identify a brand, it should stand the test of time. Ad campaigns and seasonal styles can come and go but why you do what you do remains. Likewise, the symbol used to represent your brand needs to be timeless. Yes, logos can be refreshed, from a stylistic perspective, but the core symbol should stand the test of time.

  4. Versatile

    One of the biggest challenges of logo design is that it needs to be effective across a variety of media and applications. This means a logo needs to work as well on a billboard as it does on an iPhone.

    I like to begin designing logos in black and white. This allows me to focus on getting the shape right before details like colour come into play. If it doesn’t work in black and white, colour will only mask its faults.

    A good logo needs to be versatile, and keeping it simple is a great way to achieve this.

  5. Appropriate

    One of the first things we do when we see something new is categorize it. This is where appropriateness comes into play. A good logo should fit the category of the brand it belongs to. For example, a child-like typeface would be appropriate children's toy store logo, not a law firm.

    As much as we may want to push the boundaries and make something out-of-the-box, a good logo takes inventory of the sphere in which it exists to ensure it belongs.

With so much visual noise vying for our attention, it’s never been more important to effectively communicate through logo design. Creating symbols that are simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate is the basis for designing a good logo that successfully identifies the brand it represents.

Feature Image: American Alphabet by Heidi Cody