A logo may not be brand in itself but it’s an essential element to your brand. A well-designed logo is a mnemonic device — a symbol that will help customers instantly remember complex information about a brand or company. It is a visual representation of everything your brand means. Consider these powerful logo design ideas and implement them yourself!
The most powerful logos combine simplicity with meaning. Consider these two examples: Nike’s Swoosh and McDonald’s Golden Arches. You can instantly conjure up an image of these logos in your mind’s eye just by reading their names. They are simple, yet you can also associate a great deal of information and personal experience with each logo.
You can probably name at least 3 or 4 items on a McDonald’s menu just by imagining those Golden Arches. Thinking further, you may remember previous advertising campaigns and specific characters. Within just a few seconds you’ve probably reviewed some childhood memories and thought of a favorite location. You might even get a craving for French fries and a shake! All of that information is stored in your brain and linked to those brilliant arches.
Nike’s logo was originally designed to represent speed and motion. It brings to mind their legendary tagline “Just Do It”. It may remind you of current controversies about the brand. A good example would be the recent political controversy surrounding the Nike brand. The Nike Swoosh has become a piece of political display and a symbol of party alignment among consumers. What do you think of when you see the Swoosh?
As you can see, these powerful logos are both simple and chock full of meaning.
Common Errors in Logo Design
The most common error business owners and marketing professionals make is this: they try to tell their entire story in the logo itself. You can’t do that, so don’t even try! More importantly, when crafting your logo you must AVOID NOISE. What exactly is noise in advertising? It’s unneeded information that obscures your message. Consumers really don’t care that your company has X years of experience in the business, or that it was “Established in 19-whatever”.
Noise can be too many colors, too many lines, technical verbiage and more.
Your logo shouldn’t be a grocery list of your products either. Trust that a consumer’s mind is capable of storing all those memories associated with the McDonald’s logo. It will work for your brand too.
Characteristics of Great Logos
Beyond simplicity, the best logos all have these common traits:
- They are simple. Great logos don’t contain too many colors, words or dates. Remember to avoid the noise! Ideally, your logo should be something a child could easily remember… like the Golden Arches or the Swoosh. An easy way to test whether your logo is simple enough is to convert it to solid black or white. If there is any loss of detail in your logo then it may be time for a refresh.
- Great logos are scalable. They can be large or small without losing effect. Consumers can identify the Swoosh if it is as small as a thumbnail. On a business card, an athletic shoe, a TV commercial or a billboard a good logo will look the same every time and carry the same meaning to a consumer. If your logo has too many colors or details then you run the risk that they will not be visible at small scales.
- They are dynamic. Great logos look good on almost any medium, from your cell phone and desktop to stickers and street signs. If your logo is well designed it can be placed seamlessly on anything. A dynamic logo also has the ability to live on any color or background without any conflict. A graphic with too many colors or elements is not a logo. It’s a circus.
- They are easily recognized. In other words, they are unique. Nothing else looks quite like the Golden Arches, and if it did a consumer might call it a ripoff. Your logo should identify and separate your brand. It should never be mistaken for another company, especially if they have a bad reputation or a negative connotation in the future. (We won’t get into the legal issues associated with trademark infringement but it’s a point worth mentioning.)
- Great logos are memorable. When coupled with strategy and a clear understanding of consumer behavior, a well-designed logo is almost impossible to forget. That’s because it extends beyond the superficial and sets the precedence of the experience your customers will have when they engage with your brand. A logo that has no ties to the brand story itself probably lacks any character that allows it to be distinct from any other meaningless graphic.
- They are meaningful! You may have wondered what a scantily clad siren and a name like Starbucks has anything to do with coffee. That’s just the point; a meaningful logo and brand create intrigue. And if you followed your curiosity, you would have found that it is symbolic of the journey Starbucks coffee takes across the ocean to make it to the port of Seattle. Dig even further you’ll find that the first mate on the Pequod ship in the novel Moby Dick, is named Starbuck. Neat huh?! If you can’t explain every aspect of your logo and what it stands for chances are it’s lacking meaning.
- Finally, the best logos are timeless! We don’t mean that a great logo is never redesigned. Nike’s Swoosh, the Pepsi Globe, Coca-Cola’s logo… they all go through periodic redesigns to keep them fresh and modern. They are still identifiable enough, however, that consumers still associate all that stored information in their brains with the fresh take on an old logo.
Not sure how your logo stacks up or just need a trained eye to take a look? Contact us for a free complete audit of your logo and brand identity.