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5 Characteristics Of An Impactful Logo Design

By on May 2, 2016 in How To
5 Characteristics Of An Impactful Logo Design

At first, logo designing seems like a fairly simple skill to acquire. But, that’s only until you get started on designing one! As David Airey puts it in his book -Logo Design Love,

"Anyone can design a logo, but not everyone can design the right logo"

A logo is not just an image, but also an introduction to a brand. And since first impressions matter, it is important to design a logo that inspires brand trust, loyalty and admiration. Here are 5 important characteristics of an impactful and effective logo design:

Original:

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Imitation is the best form of flattery, however this is not the case when it comes to logo design. A good logo aids in creating a unique visual identity for a brand and helps it to stand out in a sea of competitors. While there is nothing wrong in taking a little design inspiration while creating a logo, it is important to push to be creative and as original as possible.

Relevant:

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Sometimes, even the most beautiful and unique logos may not be successful. Why? Because they may not be appropriate for their intended audience. For example, using a playful, child-like font is great for a logo for a toys company, but for a bank? Not so much. Its important to research a brand’s mission, values and its target audience before designing a logo - this will ensure that the logo is appropriate and effective for the brand.

Versatile:

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From large banners and billboards to something small like business cards and websites, typically a logo will be put to several uses. So it is important to create a scalable logo that is legible and maintains detail at all sizes. Also, a great logo is versatile in terms of color - it should look great in black and white, as well as in color as the contrast will help emphasize the idea. A few things to consider while designing a versatile logo are:

  • Will the logo look good in reverse color? (light logo on a dark background)
  • Will the logo be clear when sized to fit a postal stamp or favicon?
  • Will the logo be clear when sized to fit a billboard?
  • Will the logo be effective when it is printed in just one color?

Memorable:

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Some logos are so iconic, that even toddlers can not only easily recall and recognize them but also figure out what the brand sells just by looking at the logo. This is exactly what a great logo is - memorable. Iconic logos invoke emotion and hence make a permanent impression in the minds of customers.

Timeless:

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Keep away from trends while designing a logo. An effective logo is traditional and timeless, not trendy. While creating a visual brand identity, its important to ensure that its effectiveness is long lasting.

Conclusion

Finally, the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) approach is the way to go in logo design. Simple logos are incredibly effective, recognizable and versatile.

To summarize, here is a quote by Paul Rand, one of the world’s greatest designers:

"A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like. The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything."


Chaitra is a software engineer and freelance web designer based in Seattle. She has her own design studio and blogs about design and photography at PinkPot. Check out her Creative Market design shop here.

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17 Comments

  1. Well done-- covered the points concisely, and with good examples.

  2. Great article!

    I do have one nitpicky point: “…but also figure out what the brand sells just by looking at the logo.” In my opinion, this is very often NOT a common aspect of professional logos and is a trap that many young designers fall into (I know I was stuck in that mindset for a while). Not only is it proven in the two examples you show there (neither Nike or Apple’s logos look anything like shoes or computers), it’s also emphasized in the great Paul Rand quote you close off the article with: “A logo is rarely a description of a business.”

    I think having that line in there about being able to figure out what the brand sells by looking at the logo could be confusing and misleading for designers who are tempted to try and design such a logo. While those logos do happen every now and then, they are the exception, and the number one priority should be to create a unique and easily recognizable symbol that fittingly identifies the business or product in a way that creates confidence and trust.

  3. Great article ! You have changed my approach to design logo. Thanks a lot for some very good points.

  4. Why are these articles always so patronizing? All to often they sound like theyre written for someone who knows nothing at all about design... I hope most of your readers knew these points already, or I think they may be in the wrong profession.

  5. @Ryan Toyota Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Ryan. I definitely agree with you that a logo need not signify what the brand sells. However there are definitely some classic logos out there which indicate what the brand sells immediately like the logo of For eg. Burger King.

    Although the 2 logos in context don't necessarily denote what the brand sells, I was just mentioning an idea, a possibility - not a necessity! :) Again, I enjoyed reading your comment - thanks so much!

  6. @Mike Girard Hi Mike, I agree that people already in the design profession may find this article a tad repetitive. However, there are lot of designers out there who are self taught and these kind of articles might be helpful for people just starting out :)

  7. Great article, Chaitra! And don't listen to MG… this article is perfect for the Creative Market audience.

  8. Thanks Chaitra, good article. it will be a handy reference when discussing logo briefs with clients, particularly Paul Rand's quote, Some's it up nicely.

  9. Thanks Chaitra, Followed a link to here from your blog. and now using your pointers to design my logo

  10. Thanks for this article, I think this article is for every designer from starters, self-toughts to experienced ones, designers should always have this in mind!

  11. Nike and Apple logo are my all time favorite.
    Loved the quote "Anyone can design a logo, but not everone can design the right logo".
    I am also waiting for cool sports logo for my online sports accessories website from a crowdsourcing website Designhill. I hope I will get the "Right Logo".

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