How Do you Know if your Logo Is Good?

A great logo communicates the right message to the right people. Through visual communication, it catches the eye of the target market and speaks to their interests. It tells them who you are, what you’re about, and why the two of you will be a perfect match.

Here are some of the most important elements of a logo design. If you’re wondering if your logo is good or if its time to update, these will help you understand how to look at your logo analytically. Because one of the secrets of design is that creativity is only 10% of the process.

1. The Logo Explains What you Do
Fairly obvious, right? When someone looks at your logo, they should be able to tell what you do. But it’s easy to fall into the thinking that you can represent your business with a simple logo mark–a graphic without any words. In the example below we can see that the Under Armour brand started with a logo that included their company name and a description of their product. As they grew bigger they were able to remove the text elements because they had achieved enough recognition. If you aren’t already wildly successful, your logo should include the name of your business and if necessary, a tagline that explains your product/services.

logo examples

2. Simplicity
Less is more. With logos, we want instant recognition from the audience. Nike. Shell. Ford. These are all logos that even a small child could draw on a piece of paper from memory. The more complicated the design, the more time it requires the audience to digest and the less likely they are to able to recall it clearly. This example shows how Starbucks’ logo has evolved to become more and more simplified over the years to achieve this visual clarity for customers.

simplified logos

3. Versatility
How will the design be used? Where will it be placed? If the logo is going to be printed on a long outdoor sign, it will need to be horizontal in format. But that same logo may need to also be used a small square-shaped Facebook ad. How will it transform to meet this need?

When versatility isn’t considered properly, you can end up with the tragic “box” design that Nationwide adopted some 15 years ago. They have recently moved back to their original design featuring the bird. The box design is flawed because this logo cannot be scaled in a way that allows the text to bee clear and legible. The box takes up the entire design (almost 90% of the space) and communicates nothing. It forces the text to be look like a footnote. It’s difficult to imagine how this logo was ever considered. As mentioned, they returned to an incarnation of their previous bird logo and have seen increased sales as a result.

bad logo example

4. Timelessness
Watch out for trendy elements. Although it is common for brands to update their logos as the years go by, you want your primary logo elements to stay the same so that you don’t lose the recognition you’ve already gained. Simplicity is timeless so if you have achieved that, you’re well on your way.

5. Semantics
What is the meaning of the design? Looking at Nike’s logo, referred to as the Swoosh, the mark communicates movement and speed. But it also reminds us of the shape of a wing. When you have that wing graphic on the side of a shoe, you evoke the winged shoes of Greek mythology–shoes that would give their owner god-like speed. Depth of meaning in your logo will allow your logo to communicate on multiple levels, some of which may even be unconscious (Remember when you found out that FedEx has a big arrow in their logo that you’d never noticed?).

logo semantics

6. Style
The logo needs to communicate your message through every detail of the design. Type, colors, shapes… everything. These choices speak volumes, so make sure your choices are all in line with your brand personality. Style is also a great place to insert your unique selling points as a service provider. Let your audience SEE what makes your business different from your competitors.

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