A brand logo is a visual representation of the identity and core ethos of the company that uses it, which sends a message to customers and prospects about the quality and reliability of the brand’s offerings. It also helps to boost brand awareness and increase public familiarity with the brand.
Choosing the right logo for your brand will help to spread the word about who you are and what you do – but if your logo isn’t up to scratch or gives the wrong impression about your company, it will have the opposite effect instead.
Good brand logos are highly distinctive, instantly recognisable, and create a memorable impact – like the McDonald’s Golden Arches. What makes this brand logo such a strong one comes down to a combination of factors, including its simplicity, clarity, and versatility. It translates well across multiple applications, from signage to uniform decals to packaging to television adverts, and is recognised and understood in almost every language and culture across the world.
All great brand logos are by definition very different from one another, but they also share a combination of core traits that together, help to contribute to your brand identity. Your logo must represent the style and ethos of your brand and fit in with the overall impression that you want to give to your prospects about the products or services that make up your wider family of offerings.
When it comes to commissioning or creating a logo for your own brand, getting things right can be a challenge, with many pitfalls to avoid along the way. However, following a few simple criteria and considering the applications for your logo will help you to ensure that the end result is effective, distinctive, and hits the mark.
One vital element to bear in mind when constructing a brand logo is to consider who your customers and prospective customers are, and what they are looking for – keeping your target audience at the forefront of your mind at all times and fine-tuning your brand logo to appeal to your buyer demographics. After all, a great logo isn’t actually great if it doesn’t speak directly to the type of people that you are trying to sell to!
In this article, we will examine the most important factors to consider when creating or commissioning a logo for your brand, and share some tips on creating a design that you – and your prospects – will love.
First up, originality is the most important element of an effective brand logo, because it is intended to set you apart from the competition and serve as an ambassador for your brand.
If your logo is too similar to another design or could be mistaken for a symbol used by another brand, you run the risk of infringing someone else’s intellectual property rights, as well as weakening customer perception of your products or services. This, in turn, negates the whole point of the logo itself – building your brand identity and helping to ensure that your brand’s offerings stand out from the crowd.
A good brand logo has to make an impact and be memorable to people from the first time that they see it. This generally means sticking with a simple, clear, and distinctive design with strong, eye-catching colours. Highly stylised designs composed of intricate patterns and a lot of fine detail might look pretty, but they won’t create an immediate impact, nor remain clear in the minds of your prospects a few minutes later.
A 2017 study entitled “Branded in Memory,” (1) which set out to test people’s accuracy in recalling famous brand logos bears this out. The study’s 156 respondents were able to accurately recall and reproduce simple shapes and designs such as the Ikea and Target logos with a much greater degree of accuracy than they were the logos for Starbucks and Foot Locker, both of which contain a greater amount of detailing within their designs.
Over 50% of respondents were able to produce a “good” representation of the Ikea and Target logos from memory, whilst for Foot Locker, only 25% of respondents managed to do the same. The figure is even lower for the Starbucks brand logo, standing at just 17%.
Your logo should be clear and simple enough for people to be able to sketch it with a pen or explain it to others; and if it can be demonstrated physically – such as is the case with the McDonald’s logo, which you can mime out with your hands – so much the better, because this makes it easier for your prospects to spread the word and so, get people talking about your brand.
Finding a great design for today is much easier than finding a great design that will still look good and serve its purpose in a decade or so – and it is important to bear this in mind when you create your logo, and consider how it will be perceived a few years down the line.
A logo that looks very modern and fashionable right now may not age well when tastes change, so think about the type of imagery, fonts, and concepts you incorporate into your design to ensure that it won’t look dated and tired when trends change.
Matching the brand’s style
Your brand’s logo should provide a cohesive visual representation of your brand’s voice and identity; it must be appropriate for both the role that your business fulfils and what your prospects are looking for.
The right logo will create an instant impression about your brand, and looking critically at what that first impression says is an integral element of choosing the right design. Whether your brand’s values can be summed up as fun, luxurious, reliable, authoritative, high tech, or something else – this must translate into your finished design.
In order to be effective at helping you to build brand awareness, your logo needs to translate well across multiple different applications, from billboards and signage to letterheads, uniform decals, and product packaging.
If the logo you are working on or considering using doesn’t cover all of these bases, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Deciding on the colour or colours you use for your logo is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the whole endeavour.
Using a single-colour image has the benefit of simplicity, but when it comes to drawing the eye and imprinting your logo on the minds of your prospects, two or three contrasting colours often make a stronger impact.
Proceed with care if you are considering using more than three colours for your logo – while this can work out well within a simple design that incorporates clearly delineated boundaries between the colours (as is the case with the Apple logo, for instance) too many complimentary shades can compromise the visual impact your logo produces.
Try to steer clear of colours that are dull, pale, wishy-washy, or widely perceived as unattractive, unless you want your prospects to associate those same traits with your brand itself. (2)
Think about how well the logo will stand out in different sizes and from different distances away in a variety of lighting conditions too.
Getting it right first time
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to creating a great brand logo, and rushing the process or accepting a design that ticks all of the boxes on paper but that doesn’t really wow you in practice will soon come back to haunt you.
Take your time over the design process itself, be willing to experiment, and ask as many people as possible for their opinions on your final shortlisted designs. Getting your prospective logo seen by as many people as possible will enable you to gather useful feedback that can help you to fine-tune your design, and avoid a potentially costly mistake – such as finding out that your logo’s silhouette inadvertently looks rude from a certain angle!
Be prepared to go through a few different iterations of your design before you hit upon the perfect result – and if something doesn’t feel right, even if you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what it is, keep working on it until you’re 100% happy with your choice.
- Branded in Memory via Signs.com (2017).
- An Ecological Valence Theory of Human Color Preference, Palmer and Schloss (2010).
Polly Kay is a British copywriter and content writer with a digital marketing background. After studying Marketing (BA Hons) at university, she first honed her skills as a copywriter by working in-house for an award-winning creative agency in London before branching out on her own in 2012. Today, Polly Kay Copywriting and Content Writing serves clients ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK to well-known multinational brands. Polly specialises in SEO-friendly content writing for online use, and both brand-led and direct response copywriting for all applications.Read full profile