What Makes a Good Logo?
The top qualities that make a good logo design.
There’s a difference between having a logo and having a good logo. You see, a good logo will grab attention, create emotional connections, improve brand recognition, and sustain brand loyalty.
A bad logo, on the other hand, will do none of that.
So what makes a good logo? Design and color play a role, but so does branding and brainstorming. If you’re thinking about creating a new logo, this list will help you know what to look for. If you have a logo already, put it to the test and see if it’s strong enough.
Logos come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, but to be considered good, they should meet the list of criteria below. Before we dive into that criteria list, however, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of a logo and the various parts we’ll be evaluating.
Most every logo includes a typeface or custom type, which is a letter design. A typeface is very effective at communicating specific vibes or emotions. Take the Hunstad Kortesis logo we designed. The sleek and polished typeface is representative of the plastic surgery and medspa experience.
We choose a more classic, sophisticated, and elegant typeface to design the Couture Knots logo that reflects the rug company’s exclusive and luxe hand-woven rugs.
Some logos include an icon or design element in addition to typeface. For example, the rebranded logo we designed for Cottingham Chalk features a house icon. Together, the icon and typeface make up the primary logo and represent the primary brand colors. When it’s not possible to use the full logo, brands will sometimes just use their icon or design element alone. This is common for social media profiles.
In other cases, when space doesn’t allow for the full logo use, brands will use different versions of their logo. Below you can see a horizontal and alternate vertical version of the Cottingham Chalk logo that’s occasionally used.
All of the parts of the logo we discussed above, including the full logo, the design element, and all logo versions, should meet the criteria below. Now that we understand the parts of a logo, let’s dive into the characteristics that make them good!
Does it have a concept?
Every logo should start with a concept, which is an intended message or meaning that helps tell the brand story. In other words, there must be some rhyme and reason behind your logo design to connect it back to your brand.
Some concepts are direct. Take the 100 Love Notes logo we designed. The design element clearly portrays a note in the shape of a heart. Using handlettering and illustration we give the brand a welcoming and authentic feel based on its roots in handwritten love notes.
Concepts can be abstract too. Our icon design for the Hilsmier logo joins together three shapes to create an H. This represents how Hilsmier brings clients and solutions together as well as their collaborative nature and adaptiveness.
Whether the concept is direct or indirect, the bottom line is that a connection exists in some way between your logo and your brand products, services, or experience. Without a well-thought-out concept, the logo won’t help tell your brand story, weakening your overall brand experience.
Does it match the brand identity?
Logos are the visual representation of your brand’s personality, so the two should sync like peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and chocolate, or peanut butter and bananas. (You get it.)
The Wagner Murray brand is modern, forward-thinking, and innovative, all the qualities you’d want from an architectural and design firm! The logo we designed for them compliments that personality and is reflected in our choice of typeface, color, and design element.
If your logo doesn’t sync with your brand personality, you’re left with a disjointed brand experience that can confuse audiences. That confusion will only widen the gap between your logo and the brand it’s supposed to represent.
Is it unique?
If you want your brand to stand out from the competition, it helps if the logo doesn’t mirror competitor logos. Our team does a lot of research upfront to make sure your logo doesn’t look or feel like other brands in your space.
Many brands make use of custom type or hand-drawn illustrations to stand out. Using one-of-a-kind assets also makes it much harder for other brands to mimic your logo design.
While free online logo makers are great resources, they don’t produce unique logo designs. The same logo templates are offered to everyone. This means that both competitors and non-competitors can have logos that are very similar to yours making it hard for customers to distinguish a brand by its visual identity.
Is it simple?
A simple logo isn’t plain or boring, it’s just not overly complicated. It’s legible at any size–whether on a business card or billboard–and in any format–whether in an email signature or printed letterhead. Logos with intricate or ornate designs are very hard to read at small sizes.
Simplicity also helps ensure that your logo is memorable. It’s easier to process and remember logo designs that exercise simplicity. Our logo examples limit themselves to 1-2 colors, fonts, and other design elements.
Quickly think of 5 famous logos. One by one, examine each and you’ll find that they are all simple. They limit themselves to 1-2 fonts and design elements, while also having the ability to reduce to a 1 color mark without compromising the brand identity.
Does it use color strategically?
Colors are powerful communicators of meaning and emotion. When designing the parent and sub-logos for Charlotte Marathon, we hand-selected bright, energetic, gender-neutral colors that conveyed excitement, positivity, and inclusivity.
It’s the with hot sauce brands that use red to reinforce heat and spas that use blue to reinforce relaxation. The color selection for your logo should be based on a combination color psychology, brand personality, and the brand experience you deliver.
Whatever colors you use, you also want to make sure that your logo is visible in grayscale. Because there will be instances where printing in color isn’t an option.
Great logo designs don’t just come out of thin air. A lot of time and thought goes into developing a concept, selecting the right colors, and ensuring the design is simple but also unique. That’s why a lot of clients choose to collaborate with a marketing agency to help them take an idea and turn it into a powerful brand symbol.
Want to continue the conversation? Give us a shout!