A successful logo represents a company to consumers. It may be also called a trademark, brand, logotype, identity, mark, symbol or emblem. All of these things get meaning from the company it represents. When effective, a logo can help sell a product or service. It can be the visual representation that consumers can make “their’s” and become loyal to. It is the role of the logo to visually represent a company in the simplest form possible.
These are the ten most important elements of a successful logo. Most of these examples are logos you are familiar with and do all of these things successfully.
#1. Keep it Simple
Simplicity is key in communication, especially visual communication. A logo that is overworked is hard to reproduce and can make it difficult for your consumer to remember. Recognition is very important!
*Fun Fact: The original BBC logos were designed with an Italic typeface. In 1997, the BBC logo was changed to the current style, which reflects a more strong and bold image for the corporation and its programs.
#2. Make it Memorable.
This follows the key of simplicity. Your logo should be one your consumer can recall easily. After all, you want to “leave your mark.”
*Fun Fact: The two golden arches were designed initially to mimic the new arched shaped symbols on the side of the restaurant. Later, the arches were merged and the process resulted in the simple golden “M” which reflects the name of the food chain.
In addition to being memorable, you want your consumer to start thinking about the products or services you offer. Your logo should make a statement about your company, it should reveal the nature of your company or product without using exact literal terms.
*Fun Fact: The three silhouetted faces of women in the Girl Scouts logo signify courage and strength to all US women; they encourage them to be a member of the Scout program and take part in the community service.
Is your logo distinguishable from your competitors or other companies? Your logo needs to be as unique as you are. You should avoid stock images or generic images at all costs. If a stock image is available to you, it’s available to everyone and that means your logo is not specific to you. Additionally, most stock art companies (vector or otherwise) specifically state that the art cannot be used in, or as any part of, a logo. Be sure to read the fine print!
*Fun Fact: The Rolling Stones logo actually represents the intense and rebellious mouth of Mick Jagger, a character as unique and memorable as the logo.
#5. Engage your Audience.
Give them the opportunity to discover the meaning and intention of your logo themselves. They will be more likely to retain your logo image if they can give it personal equity.
*Fun Fact: Look closely at the FedEx logo and you’ll see a hidden arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’– a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx attributes.
Imagine where your company will be in 10 or 15 years. What kind of products or services will you potentially add? Will your logo still be relevant? Timeless logos may incur some minor changes, but they also can stand the test of time.
*Fun Fact: The Coca-Cola logo was created by Frank Mason Robinson in 1885! In over 125 years, this timeless logo has only received minor revisions.
The ability of your logo to be applied in many different ways is very important. It needs to hold up on business cards, websites, faxed documents, etc. The best way to ensure this is to create your logo in vector format, this allows for flexibility when scaling your logo.
*Fun Fact: The Adidas logo is comprised of three parallel lines symbolizing the outstanding athletic performance. The logo’s versatility stretches beyond apparel and into print, large format and web usage.
#8. Effective Without Color.
Your logo may never be seen in black and white — except, perhaps on a fax, but it should hold up without color. Sometimes, it’s more productive to see the logo only in black and white until final stages. This helps focus on the quality of the mark, the simplicity, and clear communication, without adding another element. When it’s time to pick colors, choose wisely! Sometimes there are clear color “no-no’s” of the industry, sometimes there are “trend” colors. Like your logo, the colors you chose should be relevant to your industry and timeless.
*Fun Fact: The Apple logo at one time, consisted of 7 colors of the rainbow, speaking of the separation of white light and the introduction of colors to the IT products. Now, we recognize it as the silvery chrome polished apple; a look that’s both clean and sleek.
An important trait of a good logo is versatility. You want to communicate a consistent image among all marketing materials, including your website, your business cards, publications, brochures, posters, etc. In order to build brand recognition, you need to remain consistent with your logo usage.
*Fun Fact: The currently used ABC logo, designed by famous graphic designer Paul Rand, has been used for 50 years.
A successful logo must hold value. It should be hard to replace because of the value it holds. This goes hand-in-hand with timelessness. Logos help build brand equity. Changing your logo will and should impact the equity your logo holds.
*Fun Fact: After changing their logo in October, 2010, Gap faced an outpouring of social media criticism. Their response: “Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback,” the company said on its Facebook Page. “We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”
In the end, a logo requires thought, planning, time and money. The design of the logo should support the goal and image of the company, not the opposite way around. A successful logo can determine the recognition of a brand, consumer loyalty, and the equity the brand holds. It should be the simplest form of communication, but bears a lot of weight.
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