5 Principles of Effective Logo Design
It’s easy to spot a bad logo, but have you ever wondered what it takes to consistently create effective logo designs?
Apart from skill and experience, good logo design requires an understanding of five basic principles:
1. Keep It Simple
2. Make It Memorable
3. Keep It Timeless
4. Make It Versatile
5. Make Sure It’s Appropriate
Keep It Simple
Most designers learn the K.I.S.S. mantra fairly early on. A simple logo design is one that allows for easy recognition, which means that the image isn’t cluttered or confusing. However, it doesn’t mean that the logo is plain or boring. In fact, a good designer can get quite clever with minimal elements. A classic example is the Apple logo.
Make It Memorable
An effective logo is one that people remember from one viewing to another. If a logo is memorable, it can better communicate your brand. Sometimes a logo is memorable because of clever design, but sometimes it becomes memorable simply through repetition. The Nike swoosh isn’t the cleverest logo design, but it is memorable because it has been repeated so often and for so long.
Keep It Timeless
When creating a logo, you want to avoid fads or trends because they can make your design appear dated once the trend passes. The logo design should be strong enough that five to ten years down the road it will still be an effective identifier. If the logo uses a trendy font, it will have to be redesigned at some point. As an example, Microsoft’s original logo only lasted four years before it was redesigned due to the 1970s-era font. In fact, Microsoft’s logo went through three different iterations between 1975 and 1982.
Make It Versatile
An effective logo is one that works in both color and black and white. It should translate no matter what application it’s used in, the medium used, or the size it appears. The Android logo is a great example of versatility, as it works in any size or color, as well as with or without text.
Make Sure It’s Appropriate
There are several layers to an appropriate logo. First, the font and/or design should be congruent with the product or service being offered. For example, you wouldn’t want to use a whimsical design to sell a serious product or service, such as in the Smith and Smith Funeral Home logo.
Second, within the logo there shouldn’t be any elements that can be misread, creating potentially embarrassing or giggle-inducing reactions (such as weirdly sexual connotations). Likewise, you want to watch spacing and placement of text that can cause the viewer to misinterpret the logo on first glance.
Good design is more than coming up with clever ideas. A good designer has to be able to think universally and understand how to balance simple imagery with complex ideas. They also need to be problem solvers and identify any potential 'misread' a logo can convey. By following the five design principles listed here, a designer can ensure that a logo is more universal in its appeal and (hopefully) more memorable for all the right reasons.