Whenever you see a big red “S” in a diamond-shaped shield on a yellow background, your brain automatically goes—“Superman.” Such is the power of an effective logo.
Once seen and associated with a particular entity, a good logo becomes a form of shorthand, informing everyone who encounters it. Like most things, we all know a good logo when we see one, but if called upon to articulate it, how many of us can say what makes a strong logo?
Well, after reading this, you’ll be one of the people who can.
A logo must be a paragon of simplicity to ensure it is memorable, recognizableand versatile. The excellent ones are also unique, without being over the top. Whether you see it on a t-shirt, a ball cap, a paper cup or a billboard next to the freeway at 65 miles per hour, simplicity is a huge part of what makes a good logo register in your mind.
The symbol must also be simple enough to stick in your brain as related to the company it represents. Because it’s next to impossible to get a one to one relationship between a logo and the entity it represents, the look must somehow relate to the brand to establish a memorable connection.
Perhaps the most iconic logo ever created, the Coca-Cola logo has stood— basically unchanged—for more than 130 years. Created in 1885, it is absolutely timeless, particularly when you compare it to Pepsi’s, which has had at least 11 different versions since it was originally created in 1893.
Yes, the Coca-Cola logo is singularly iconic, and its success may never again be duplicated. But you can still learn from its example when you design a logo.
(OK, to be completely honest, Coca-Cola did try a different logo in 1890, but like 1985’s deservedly maligned “New Coke,” it only lasted one year before the company went back to an evolution of the original design in 1891.)
OK so, you just came up with what you think is a brilliant logo for your business. Does it still look good when it’s rendered in black and white? How about if it’s printed really small—or large enough to be seen on a billboard? Does it look good on letterhead? What about in an email message? Will it play in the top left-hand corner of your website? For a logo to be successful, it must be capable of holding its own in all of those situations—and any others that might come up.
Ideally, the look of your logo will be reflective of some aspect of the nature of your business. In other words, it should say something about the personality of your company. A playful look is suitable for a toy company, but not for a law firm. Further, while many professions have associated symbols, most have been so overused, you’ll do well to forego them unless you can come up with a unique way of incorporating one.
All of the best logos in history reflect the above characteristics. If you’re wondering what makes a strong logo, you’ll do well to infuse your design with them too. To ensure your success, take your time and run several ideas past a lot of people before you adopt one for keeps. With diligence, creativity and a bit of luck, like Frank Mason Robinson, you too can come up with something that will stand the test of time.