Create a Successful Logo With These 10 Essential Elements

A good logo design is a major contributor to making that crucial first impression on a customer.

A logo conveys your company’s values, tells a story, and even helps people trust your brand.

If your logo does not convey the right message to a prospective customer, your company is at an immediate disadvantage. It could even mean the difference between selecting the competition over you.

Make sure your logo has these 10 elements:

1. Your company logo is strong and balanced

A logotype is an icon, whether it’s made up of just text or just a graphic symbol, or both elements. It should reflect your company – its heart and soul – its personality.

Keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your business. Favor logos that have a strong, balanced look.

2. Your logo is simple

Simplicity is vital.

A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience.

Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and/or famous. Most likely, you’ve thought of companies like Apple, Volkswagen, Target, McDonald’s, etc.

What do they all have in common? They all have simple and easily recognized logos when printed by themselves and when printed in solid black and white.

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3. Your logo is memorable

Your logo does not always need to describe what your business does. Have you ever seen a car manufacturer with a picture of a car as its logo?

How about a shoe manufacturer? It would look silly to have a picture of a shoe… on a shoe.

When using icons in your logo design, consider icons that could communicate your brand without the company name. (examples: Swoosh for Nike). This will allow you to use the icon as a stand-alone image (on product packaging, for example).

For a person to retain and identify with a mark (your icon), a little mental tennis match must be played with it. If an icon is too blatantly obvious or easy to ‘read,’ the viewer often feels no sense of discovery or personal equity with it. But remember that too much abstraction can be dangerous because your message can be lost.

4. Your logo is flexible

A logo should be visible and distinguishable on a big billboard from 100 meters away or on a small business card from 20 millimeters away.

It should also work well in different size formats like business cards, brochures, t-shirt design, and other marketing materials such as embroidery, stamping, embossing, etc.

A good logo will work well in many colors and just one or two colors (yes, black is a color).

A good logo will work well on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds, even on multicolored backgrounds.

Many start-ups and smaller companies use their logo on a few marketing materials but use other materials.

Be sure that you use your logo consistently, and be sure that your logo allows you the flexibility to do so in multiple formats. You can learn more about flexible logos in our guide on the subject.

5. Your logo uses appropriate colors

Image courtesy of Pourya Pouzesh

If you are looking for a color logo, consider the messaging that color sends to your customers.

Do the colors reinforce and strengthen the intended core message/personality/mood you’re trying to communicate through the logo, or do they distract or neutralize?

For example, blue often communicates trust, loyalty, and freshness. The color blue is common in banking or finance.

Green represents life, nature, and cleanliness.

Also, consider colors that work well with dark and white backgrounds. Because logos are often printed in black and white, chose a logo design that is viable and as strong or stronger in black and white.

Although gradients provide an aesthetically-pleasing effect on computers, consider possible future uses of the logo, such as letterheads, business cards, and merchandise. Will the logo provide ease of printing and reproduction in and on all types of media?

A logo for a website or a band or a one-off project can be more rasterized and colorful than something that’s going to be printed in many different ways.

Think twice about including more than 3 colors in a logo – too many colors will increase production cost when printing and may make the logo more difficult to reproduce.

Although such costs have decreased considerably, this remains good advice.

6. Your logo is timeless

Image courtesy of Consumerist

Trends are good, but innovation is better. (And fads are often deadly).

A logo should have a long life expectancy. It will evolve and change over time, but the longer it stays the same at its heart, the better brand recognition you will get over time. Examples: Coca-Cola, Dior, Rolex.

A good logo will have a sense of timelessness. A logo that feels anchored in a certain time period is more likely to feel outdated or need substantial rebranding fairly quickly.

The best logos change very little yet feel fresh and vibrant every time.

7. Your company logo is unique

Will it stand out among the clutter and the crowd? Does the mark distinguish itself differently from the competition, or is it predictable / default / bland — and thus unmemorable and ultimately invisible to the intended audience?

With thousands upon thousands of fonts, billions of color combinations, and an infinite flow of design ideas, choose a unique logo.

Try to avoid common logo cliches like “swoops,” “wooshes,” and “pinwheels;” these techniques are perhaps the most commonly used practices in the logo industry (look around your house, you’ll see). Avoid clip art like the plague unless the artist significantly modifies it.

It isn’t reassuring when you start noticing your logo and things that look like it on many other people’s brands. That’s the quickest way to look low-budget and second-rate.

8. Your logo uses quality typography

Ask yourself what you’re trying to communicate.

Depending on the type of application, typefaces with serifs convey a sense of dignity & power. Sans serifs are often more clean looking and offer either a sense of stability or whimsy (depending on the character of the face).

Will the face work with what you currently have? Can it be read in small sizes? Is the letterspacing/word spacing well adjusted? (the larger the wording gets, the more obvious the flaws will be).

Typography is a craft in itself- it’s the first voice of stating who you are.

Beware that there are some truly horrible typefaces out there. Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

9. Your logo derives meaning from your brand

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

Your logo has to derive meaning from your brand, not the other way around.

The world’s best brands are not well-known because of their logo. They are known because of the people and vision that the logo represents.

When deciding on the direction of your logo, make sure that you have already thought about your brand, brand identity, and the direction of your company. This guide on building your brand identity from the ground up is a good start.

10. Your logo is vectorized

Image courtesy of MJ Claybone

Always request vector-based graphics.

It’s often tempting to ask for complex illustrations in a logo. However, unless you plan on never using your logo outside of an on-screen/online application, a JPG or PSD isn’t going to cut it.

A properly drawn vector design will provide you with the ultimate flexibility.

Good branding provides a unique opportunity for small businesses to stand out from the competition. With the right logo, you communicate your brand’s values from the first moment a customer sees it. You only get one chance for a first impression, so make it a good one.

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