Your company’s logo is the centerpiece of your overall brand image and conveys a lot about your business. Companies that don’t consider their logo essential — especially during inception — may suffer in the long run. This can happen even if their service or product is great, because their logo is unprofessional, confusing, or possibly offensive. A business with a bad logo may be ignored or even maligned.
To ensure that your business’s logo is sending the right message, there are a few basic design principles which should help you achieve truly effective results.
1. Keep It Simple
I don’t recall where I first heard about the K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple, Stupid — design principle, but it has stuck with me throughout my career. In fact, if there’s one common thread that runs through most of my work, it’s this basic principle. The K.I.S.S. principle is even more important when creating a business logo.
The most memorable and effective logos are the simple ones. A simple logo sticks out in stark contrast to the visual clutter of: the retail marketplace, the pages of a magazine or banner ads on an informational website.
2. It Should Be Versatile
A good logo should work across a variety of mediums and applications. It must represent your company in many contexts and still get the message across. Therefore, a good logo should adapt to almost any situation, including:
- Vertical and horizontal formats
- Printed in one color
- Reproduced in CMYK (4-color process printing)
- Printed in black and white on newsprint
- Converted to RGB for web and broadcast
- Reversed (used on light or dark backgrounds)
- Used over the top of image or textured background
- Reduced small enough for a business card or favicon
- Enlarged enough for a billboard or vehicle fleet
The possibilities for marketing your brand are endless, but your logo should work in every circumstance.
3. It Needs to be Unique
Early on in my career I can’t tell you the number of IBM copycat logos I ran across. IBM’s striped logotype was considered a classic. Therefore, every office supply store or equipment supplier felt free to rip off the blue, striped, slab-serif typeface. Fortunately that trend went away, but there are still just as many copycat logos around today.
The internet is replete with examples of companies which have legally had to fend off attempts to duplicate their branding. Why anyone would want a logo which looks like their competitor’s is beyond me — it makes no sense and it’s simply unethical.
I’ll use this opportunity to take a jab at those “logo-matic” websites which proliferate the web today. Customers pay a nominal fee and get back a few designs to choose from. These sites entice consumers with cheap prices… prices which do not allow for in-depth research or creative development. In order to compete, they simply “borrow” their ideas from legitimate designers or their own archives, to save time and cut costs. The potential of your business eventually being sued is not a risk worth taking.
4. It Should Be Timeless
Not only is your logo the key element in your company’s marketing strategies, it will need to be its most persevering. That’s why when developing your company’s logo, you should shy away from trends and not go along with the herd. While other marketing and promotional trends will come and go, your logo needs to outlast them all. You need to ask whether your logo will still be effective in 10, 20 or even 50 years. Of course you can’t possibly know what will happen over the course of time, but if you keep durability in mind, your logo will stand the test of time.
5. Make It Memorable
Consumers are inundated with logos, advertisements and other images, daily. In fact if you take a look around you right now, chances are you’ll see at least five logos within reach.
Your logo is the face of your company and is its most prominent marketing tool. People may not remember your latest advertising campaign or promotional effort, but once established, your logo will be emblazoned in their minds. Don’t believe me? Just think about companies like CBS, FedEx or Target. What’s the first thing that pops into your head? Their logos, right? A good logo will stand out from the crowd and be remembered.
6. Make Sure It’s Appropriate
This last principle probably goes without saying but lets discuss it nonetheless. Appropriateness simply means how relevant it is to your intended audience… not necessarily what you like. For instance, you wouldn’t drop your kids off at a daycare that uses skulls and flames on its sign. Nor would you hire an accountant whose business card uses a hand-drawn typeface and a rainbow of colors.
With that said, your logo doesn’t necessarily need to describe the services you provide or the products you manufacture. Your logo simply needs to be identifiable with your company. For example, Mercedes Benz’ logo doesn’t display a graphic of a car and Apple’s logo — Thank God — doesn’t contain a computer. Through association with your business, whether positively or negatively, your logo will derive its meaning.
A good business logo is one that is effective in helping sell whatever product or service your company offers. That’s why a professionally designed, custom logo is crucial for success.