CLP Beacon - Business Issues and Solutions

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Lazy Man's Guide to 8 Essential Qualities of a Great Logo

Image Source: Flickr

Your company’s visual identity is a key component of your brand’s platform. Unfortunately many CEOs and their marketing teams often equate rebranding to only envisioning a new company logo or catchy new tagline. That is actually backwards! I believe the development of a company’s logo and graphic design is the last step in building a strong brand. I will cover those steps in detail in a future blog post.

You probably know not all logos are created equal and while many are pretty to look at, only a handful actually accomplish the goal of supporting the brand and providing a visual cue to the “promise” of the brand. Make sure yours does by understanding what makes a great logo and implementing these 8 elements in your design:

1. Simple – fight the urge to over-complicate. That can lead to a logo that is too heavy, distracting, unremarkable, confusing and difficult to reproduce in all media . Think about the logo for Twitter, for Uber, for Snapchat, or for Sprouts.

2. Versatile – consider that your logo might be in print ads, business cards, letterheads, websites, banners, videos, black and white low quality newspapers, etc. It needs to be reproducible, not only in color but in black and white. In addition, will it be distinctive and still look high quality and appealing in all media formats?

3. Distinctive – it doesn't look like your competitors. Be unique and stand out.

4. Targeted – your logo needs to fit your industry and appeal to your audience. You don't always have to be direct and blunt in the image or name, as long as your logo’s colors and overall style communicate what you do and are consistent with what you want to convey.

5. Memorable – leave a mark, an impression, on your audience. You want a logo that is so unique and powerful that it can be remembered and recognized after just one look.  Which logos do you believe are memorable. I happen to like Coca-Cola and Ford as examples of a memorable visual identity design system.

Image Source: McDonald's

6. Appropriate – make your logo match your industry, but it doesn't have to be obvious. If you're a plumber, you don't necessarily need to have a toilet or plunger on your logo in order to get your message and point across. It needs to be consistent with the brand image you wishto convey. A relationship between the company name and image you use would be helpful in establishing your brand identity. Move beyond the basic Caduceus that many doctors use on their calling card. A logo doesn’t need to outright say what the company does. Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better.

7. Timeless – will your logo stand the test of time and still be relevant, interesting and effective in 1, 5 or even 15 years with modifications? Always go for longevity, not trendy. Having said that, if your business withstands the test of time, your logo will need to evolve over time as well. My recommendation is to review your visual identity system, including the logo, every three to five years. Witness how Microsoft or the Starbucks logo and iconography (all the elements of the logo, product designs, and affiliations) have changed over time.

Image Source:

Image Source:

8. Effective — it must have an impact on the intended audience and be geared towards getting a congruent and desired “buy” response emotionally or physically.

An effective logo design starts with a solid business and marketing strategy. This strategy, vision, and how the company wants to communicate its competencies, functionality, customer focus, technology or other fundamental area of its business becomes the basis for a great design. Graphic designers, on the other hand are driven by other design elements. Therefore, in the real world, both business requirements and design requirements must come together to deliver a logo or graphic identity that can withstand the test of time.

Does your brand need to be refreshed? Email me at for a complimentary 30 minute call (and my free book) on how our team can help yours build a breakthrough branding and marketing strategy.

These concepts and other steps in building a strong business or personal brand are detailed in my recent book Brand to Sell Masterplan, available on Amazon.