Fresh eyes

The rules for creating a great company logo

the rules for creating a great company logo
Samit Nayi Freshfield Head of Design headshot

Written by Samit Nayi,
Lead Designer at Freshfield

When it comes to designing a logo, so many organisations get it wrong because they don’t follow a simple set of rules.

Think of any iconic logo: the Nike swoosh, the golden arches of McDonalds, the BBC’s three squares, Apple’s apple or Google’s coloured letters. The reason it springs to mind is usually because it ticks all the boxes on the great logo checklist, which a good graphic designer will tell you includes the following traits:

Simplicity
One of the main aims of a logo is that it is instantly recognisable. A simple logo is memorable because it can be spotted if you’re flicking through the pages of a magazine, or from the bus as you’re flashing past a billboard poster. Effective logos are simple and free of clutter.

Memorable
This goes hand in hand with simplicity. People say a logo is effective if you can describe it from memory. Therefore it has to be distinctive and original, but also appropriate.

Scalable
A logo is intended to be the most recognisable symbol of your brand, so it needs to be effective when used in all sizes. If your logo gets lost when scaled down to fit on a promotional pen, or looks distorted when blown up for a poster, it’s not going to work.

Versatile
There will be times when your company logo needs to be used in a different form or colour, perhaps for a specific campaign or one-off project. As well as the normal corporate colours, a great logo should look great in black and white, or in one block colour. For this reason, many graphic designers will not even consider using colour until they have a black and white design the client is happy with.

Relevant
You’d be surprised just how many organisations end up with logos that don’t reflect their image and target audience. For example, you wouldn’t use a comical font for an insurance firm, just like you wouldn’t use serious colours for a children’s nursery logo. That said, it isn’t necessary for logos to show what services a company offers. That’s why car firms don’t use cars in their logos and banks don’t use piles of money.

Timeless
Why invest in creating a brand identity if your logo is going to look dated in five, ten, or even 20 years’ time? Take the Coca Cola logo, for example, which has changed little in well over 100 years. Good logos stand the test of time, which is why they should aim to be original, rather than follow trends.

You won’t find a unique logo for sale on the internet. Brand creation and management should be viewed as an important business investment.

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