Five Things That Make a Good Logo

5 Things That Make A Good Logo

With so many businesses and brands out there in the world and others being created every second, one needs to make sure that his/her brand stands out and the best and widely popular way to do this is through a logo. Have a good logo and you'll be able to easily stand out and be differentiated from your competitors. Have a bad logo (looking at you Uber, what happened!?) and...well.

Don't worry though, if your business is new and you've scraped up a logo yourself and you're no designer, you are not alone and you are not the first, nor the last. Many great brands that are still around today have started out with some rather bad logos (Apple, amirite?) but as they grew, they invested in some quality logo design and now have good, even great logos. So other than the usual, what makes a good logo?

1 | Legibility and scalability

Some people choose their logos based on how they look on paper when they actually need to make sure that it looks visible wherever it will be applied. Many great logos are so legible that you can view them on a billboard from meters away. The worst logos are ones where you really need to get up close to figure out what you are looking at. Ever squinted at a logo to try and make it out? Yup, it was probably a bad logo.

Unscalable logo

Scalability in logos means that your logo is still clear and recognisable when scaled down to a tiny size (think your website’s favicon) or scaled up to a huge size (think highway billboards). Overly complex logos don’t look very good when scaled down to a tiny size because the logo elements are not easily discernable when placed in a compressed space. Logos that are designed with scale in mind are called Responsive Logos and it doesn't matter how big the space where they are applied is, they are still recognisable.

A few examples of scalable and responsive logo design.

A few examples of scalable and responsive logo design.

Tip: Make sure any text you include in your logo is kept to the minimum and not cramped into a tiny space with other visual elements.

2 | Distinction and memorability

The primary function of a logo is for recognisability; people need to recognise and identify your business or brand and differentiate it from its competition. With that said, what use would a logo be if people can’t recognise it from hundreds of other logos in the same saturated industry? Your objective should be to create a logo where it’s still recognisable when it’s only the logo icon –or sub-mark- that is presented and people should be able to remember it even if they first saw it a few weeks ago. Seek to make people exclaim, “Hey! I’ve seen that logo somewhere before! Ah, yes, I remember now. It was for that cupcake company.”

Choose to keep your logos simple and to the point; even if you limit your logo to one element, it should still be distinct. When people see your business name, let them be able to attribute it to its logo even if they don’t appear together. When that happens, you would have succeeded in making your logo memorable.

Tip: Simplicity in logos is the way to go. By keeping things simple, you make it easier for people to remember your logo and recognise it in a sea of other logos.

FedEx's logo is famed among designers as one of the best logos ever designed. It has won over 40 design awards (!) including one of 8 best logos in the last 35 years, which brings us to the next point...

FedEx's logo is famed among designers as one of the best logos ever designed. It has won over 40 design awards (!) including one of 8 best logos in the last 35 years, which brings us to the next point...

3 | Ability to withstand the test of time

Good logos are able to stand the test of time and even through rebrands, the logo is still recognisable. The best way to do this is to stay away from trends; if you are tempted, just “nope!” out of there! I know I am not the only one who has noticed the sudden influx of gold hand-lettered/brush font logos and I can’t help thinking how long those will last (surely not long!). Soon enough they will become outdated and most may even have to rebrand and go for an entirely different logo.

Trends come and go and if you are planning on longevity, make sure your logo reflects that. A good logo that doesn’t follow trends will save you a lot of time, money and customers. See it like this; if you are forced to do a logo redesign because your current one is outdated, you may be relinquishing whatever logo/brand recognisability you have worked hard for.

Apple's first logo was horrible. It was designed by Steve Jobs and we'll forgive him because he wasn't a graphic designer. They hired a designer for their next logos.

Apple's first logo was horrible. It was designed by Steve Jobs and we'll forgive him because he wasn't a graphic designer. They hired a designer for their next logos.

Tip: If you’re planning to use your logo for many years, stay away from current logo trends. Do research on brands’ logos over time and see which ones were able to withstand the test of time and not go through drastic changes. Instead of following trends, try to stand out by choosing to go for a clever, impactful logo.

4 | Relevancy

It doesn’t matter how nice you think your logo looks, if it’s not relevant to your business, product of service, it’s not very good. Sorry to say but I’ve seen my fair share of logo that were not relevant to the brand and only acted to confuse me. This is why branding is very important when creating logos. Logos shouldn’t just be created because you think a particular colour or element is so pretty, that just makes it meaningless. Try to create yours with a meaning or story behind it and make it relevant to your industry.

Airbnb's new logo has quite a lot of stories behind it.

Airbnb's new logo has quite a lot of stories behind it.

With that said, your logo doesn’t need to explicitly spell out what your business offers. Many great logos are clever to the point where they incorporate what the business offers in their logos and others are clever in that it is not obvious what the business offers. Sometimes making your logo obvious in what it offers may restrict your services and/or products when your business grows.

Harley Davidson logo
McDonald's Logo

Tip: Don’t try to be too clever that you take away from the brand you want to express.  

5 | Effective without the use of colour

Not everyone is going to print out your anything with your logo on it in colour (have you seen the price of printer ink lately?) and whether your logo will be used in colour or black and white, make sure that is still has impact and it is still recognisable. In college, we were always told to create another logo in black and white and if it didn’t look strong enough, we had to change it.

If your logo is mostly colour based, i.e. using a lot of gradients and rainbow colours, try to make sure that the other logo elements are easily discernable as well. Ask yourself, what visual elements are specific to your logo?

Example of black and white logos

Tip: Before you decide on a logo, view it in black and white and decide if it’s strong enough to stand out from every other logo while still retaining its uniqueness and recognisability.

Designed your logo yourself and not sure whether it is a good one? I'll have a look, tell you and give you tips on how to improve it. That's right, I'm giving away free logo consultations. Just click on the button below to shoot me an email and we'll make your logo awesome!

Over to you, what do you think makes a great logo? Comment below!