The logo is the heart of a brand’s visual identity. It’s the most recognizable element and has to be able to stand out at a glance among a sea of competitors. I like to think of a logo as the brand equivalent of a signature: Simple, one-of-a-kind, and distinct. It sticks out on its own, but also among a menagerie of other elements, all the while communicating the personality of the brand it represents.
However, all logos are not created equally. There are swarms of bad and simply okay logos everywhere but sprinkled in are the truly great ones. These are the logos that we all know. They stick in our minds when we see them, they become household names, and they seem to never go away. But what makes them stick? How are they so much more impactful to us than the countless others we see and forget on a regular basis? These are the core elements of a truly memorable brand signature.
A logo needs to be versatile. Too plain and it may look fantastic on a blank page but fall apart when placed beside other design elements. At the same time, if it’s too intricate it may muddle together and lose form when it’s scaled down on products or placed into a small format. The same type of issue applies to logos that rely too much on color to differentiate elements: what happens when you need to apply it in black and white?
A successful logo has to strike a balance. It needs to work on a large display, but it also has to be able to shrink down to a business card or site header. It needs to be able to work in a full-color document, but it also has to be applicable in a one-color print. The foremost aspect of making a logo that people remember is ensuring that it’s one they can recognize. No matter where they see it.
Simplicity is key. Not only does a simple, recognizable logo mark aid in ensuring versatility, it also makes your logo much more likely to embed itself in the mind of whoever is viewing it. A logo needs to be registered at a glance. When someone sees your ad on a web page, passes your product in the supermarket, or catches the end of a youtube spot, you want them to immediately grasp it. Generally, this all takes place in mere seconds. Clean logotype, minimal and easily recognizable forms, and simple, eye-catching color palettes all work together to make an attention-grabbing and easily memorable signature. Memory and simplicity are directly linked, take advantage of that.
Simplicity and versatility are valuable traits, but don’t forget to keep it relevant as well! Research your audience, build a persona, and think about what appeals to them while also representing the identity of your brand. Is there a particular hobby that they’re overwhelmingly into? A certain way that they use your product? These are things that you can pull from. Obviously, you don’t want to use tennis-themed imagery for your business management software’s logo mark, but are there any prevalent styles in their interests that you can find design inspiration within?
Last, but certainly not least, your logo needs to be distinct. You want to separate yourself from and stand out strongly among your competition. If you see trends that are constantly implemented by others in your field, avoid them. Your brand has its own story, its own goals, and its own voice: let your logo embody them. If you want your logo to stand out, it has to embody your brand and not just the industry as a whole. It is your brand’s signature, after all.
While there will always be outliers that just get lucky or operate in an area without competition, this is the formula that remains present among the vast majority of successful and memorable brands. Crafting a successful logo is a complex process and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sure, you can always rebrand. But doesn’t it sound better to just do it right to begin with?