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What Makes a Good Logo? (8 Expert Tips, 2024)

Orange Nike Logo

There’s a common misconception that your logo is your brand.

While this isn’t entirely true, it’s hard to ignore that a good logo is a pretty significant part of your overall branding.

An effective logo can be the difference between a memorable brand and one that fades into obscurity.

Take for example the iconic logos of this world, such as Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola – what are the running themes they all have in common?

Is it a coincidence that these logos have stood the test of time and are instantly recognisable?

Not at all.

So, how do you create a great logo that will stand out, be memorable, and accurately represent your brand?

Luckily, that’s not a question you need to answer.

We spoke to Ben Garner, Creative Director at Inc Studio and the figure behind our branding and design, to get the low-down on what makes a good logo for a business.

We’ve compiled all the best tips and tricks in this article, so you can create a logo that represents your company.

 

Table of Contents

 

What Makes a Good Logo Design?

Making a logo isn’t as simple as just putting a few shapes and colours together.

A good logo should be well thought out, meticulously designed, and communicate the ethos of your brand.

After having an in-depth conversation with Ben, I compiled all of his tips, tricks and processes for creating an effective logo design.

When creating a great logo, you should always:

    1. Understand your business and the industry.
    2. Discover your brand’s personality and let that be known through your logo design.
    3. Tell a story through visual communication.
    4. Focus on typography and readability way before you consider an icon or symbol.
    5. Think about the best way to present your symbol.
    6. Consider how your logo will look. The visibility and layout of your typography and symbol can make or break your logo.
    7. Use the space to your advantage. Sometimes, less is more.
    8. Stay away from fleeting trends. They’re called timeless designs for a reason.

    In this post, we’ll explore each of these eight points in deep detail so you can get right to work on creating a logo that will stand the test of time. Let’s dive into it.

     

    1) Understand Your Business

    Researching the competition is an important aspect of any design process, sure.

    But it’s not all of it.

    While you need to have a grasp on what your competitors are doing with their designs, your logo should be a reflection of your company – not theirs.

    Take the time to understand who you are as a business and what makes you unique.

    Why would your potential customer choose your business over a competitor?

    Once you have the answer to that question, take another step back and ask yourself why that separates your business from the rest.

    Keep working backwards until there’s nothing left to ask – and more importantly, there’s nothing left to answer.

    By asking yourself these big questions, you can gain a deeper understanding of your ethos and what you stand for.

    This can then be translated into your logo design, creating a visual representation of your company’s values and unique selling points (USP).

     

    statue of the Nasa logo

     

    2) Personality is Key

    Now you understand your company,  ask yourself: what is the purpose of your logo?

    We already know that it’s not your whole brand, but it is a pretty key part of it.

    It’s often the first impression a potential customer has of your business, so it needs to have personality.

    To quote Ben, “You can always tell when thought has been put into a logo. It gives you a certain feeling. You can only get that by asking the right questions“.

    A logo that represents the ethos and spirit of your brand will always be more impactful and memorable than one that’s just aesthetically pleasing.

    After all, your brand’s personality is a crucial USP.

    Achieving this goal is not something you do overnight – it takes a lot of brainstorming, digging and refining.

    Sometimes, understanding what you don’t want to be as a brand can help you refine your logo design.

    Whatever approach you take to understand the intricacies of your company, committing time to develop your brand’s personality and story will always pay off in the long run.

     

    Three people cheering Coca Cola bottles

     

    3) Always Consider Visual Communication

    Speaking of the brand’s story, the best way to tell it is through visual communication.

    Visual communication is the use of elements, such as images, symbols and typography, to convey a message.

    It’s an incredibly powerful logo design tool that can be used to simply communicate complex ideas.

    Think about the famous logos we mentioned earlier. The Apple logo represents innovation and simplicity, while Nike’s swoosh gives off a sense of speed and movement.

    Both of these examples are logos that tell their brand story through the design of their symbols.

    And that’s exactly what they are – a symbol, not an icon.

    A symbol is far more than just an image, it carries meaning, history and a story.

    However, not every logo needs a symbol.

    Just think about Coca-Cola. From its world-famous typography to its unmistakable red primary colour, it’s a perfect example of how powerful visual communication can be without the use of a symbol.

    And this choice of colour is no mistake.

    Colour is the first thing your target market thinks of when thinking of your brand.

    In the case of Coca-Cola, the signature red conveys passion, urgency and excitement – all key aspects of their brand story.

    Impressive for a colour that was originally used as a way to distinguish their products from the alcohol also sold from barrels in American stores!

    By taking the knowledge of your brand’s story and its personality into consideration, you can take customers new and old on a journey through your company ethos.

     

    Outside shot of a Louis Vuitton store

     

    4) Focus on Typography and Readability

    As we said in the last paragraph, not every logo needs a symbol.

    Sometimes, effective text-based logos can say far more than any image.

    Logos that focus on the business name rather than any iconography are called wordmarks or logotypes and they’re used by countless companies, from Coca-Cola and Google to Nasa and Louis Vuitton.

    At Inc Studio, we believe that the typeface is one of the most important parts of any logo design.

    So much so, we always recommend starting with the typeface before even considering any symbol design.

    Why?

    Because typography is a direct reflection of your brand’s personality.

    It adds value to your company, acting as the foundation of your business’s ethos.

    Just imagine if the Louis Vuitton logo used the same typeface as Google or Dunkin’ Donuts.

    It wouldn’t have the same impact at all!

    The sense of luxury and exclusivity Louis Vuitton is renowned for would be lost, trading this in for a perception as a cheap, more casual brand.

    This is why taking the time to choose a font that embodies your brand’s personality is so important.

    However, choosing a font doesn’t always mean you can’t still use symbolism and FedEx is a great example of this.

    You may already be aware of this, but hidden between the E and X is an arrow.

    This arrow symbolises forward movement and speed, which reflects the company’s ethos of efficiency and reliability in their delivery services. Pretty cool, right?

    This clever use of symbolism is not immediately apparent but once it is pointed out, it adds another layer to the logo and its meaning.

    Tapping back into the visual communication element, FedEx are also renowned for using different colours to represent their different services, with the purple and orange used in their FedEx Office logo representing legacy and enthusiasm respectively.

    So as you can see, typography isn’t just about choosing a pretty font – it’s about conveying your brand’s personality and story through every aspect of your logo design.

     

    FedEx logo on the back of a van

     

    Basic Rules of Logo Typeface

    Regardless of whether you decide to add hidden symbolism to your typeface, there are a few key rules to follow when choosing a font for your logo:

    Firstly, it must be readable.

    Your business is not a death metal band, you want customers to be able to read and understand your logo without squinting or having to decipher it.

    Next, choose a font that aligns with your brand’s personality. If you’re a legal firm, you’ll want to choose something that appears serious and professional, potentially using a serif font.

    On the other hand, if you’re a fun and quirky doughnut shop, you’ll want to choose something more playful and whimsical, perhaps opting for a script or sans-serif font.

    Testing out lowercase and uppercase versions of the font can also have a big impact on how your logo is perceived.

    If your logo has a tagline, make sure the font used for it is easily distinguishable from the main logo text. What’s more, make sure the tagline is balanced in terms of size and placement.

    Lastly, consider the scalability of your logo. Your brand may start small but you want it to grow and expand over time. Your logo needs to be able to adapt as your business grows without losing its integrity or becoming unreadable.

     

    EVRI Logo on transparent background

     

    EVRI: When Typeface Goes Wrong

    The wrong choice in typeface and font can be make or break for many businesses – especially after a rebrand.

    Take EVRI, for example. Although their rebrand from Hermes has been successful in many ways, we can’t exactly sit here and tell you it’s been the best choice in typeface.

    Choosing a different font for each letter in the name sounds like an ambitious way to highlight the different pillars of the company – the truth is, it looks ugly.

    The inconsistent fonts make it difficult to read and understand, leading many to question the brand’s integrity and professionalism.

    Not only that, but it also fails to convey a clear message or personality for the brand – making it difficult for customers to connect with the company.

    EVRI is a great modern example of why it’s so important to carefully consider and test different fonts before making a final decision. Don’t make the mistake of choosing something that looks flashy or unique without considering its impact on your brand as a whole.

     

    Grey Apple logo on an grey glass building

     

    5) How Is Your Symbol Presented?

    If you decide to incorporate symbolism into your logo, it’s important to consider how it will be presented and what story it will tell.

    It’s common knowledge at this point that imagery and colour both play a major role in how your logo is perceived and the message it conveys.

    But one thing that can be sometimes overlooked are the six design principles of logo design.

    Committing to one principle style can completely transform the story your logo tells and the emotions it evokes in consumers.

    Here are a few design principles to consider when presenting your symbol:

     

    Symmetry:

    Symmetrical designs are visually pleasing and tend to convey a sense of balance and stability.

    Think about the McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh – both symmetrical designs that are easily recognisable.

     

    Asymmetry:

    This type of design can make your logo stand out from the crowd, but it requires careful consideration as it can be perceived as chaotic if not executed properly.

    A well-designed asymmetrical logo can convey a sense of energy and movement, perfect for brands that want to be seen as progressive and innovative.

     

    Repetition:

    Repeating elements in a logo can create a sense of unity and cohesion, making it easier for customers to remember and recognise your brand. This can be achieved through the repetition of shapes, lines, or colours.

     

    Contrast:

    Contrasting elements can create a dynamic and eye-catching logo. This can be achieved through the use of different colours, sizes, or fonts.

     

    Balance:

    A well-balanced logo is visually pleasing and can convey a sense of stability and professionalism. This can be achieved through the careful placement of elements within the logo.

     

    Dominance:

    If balance doesn’t work, try dominance. A dominant element in a logo can help draw attention and make it more memorable. This can be achieved through the use of bold or larger elements.

     

    Element of Surprise:

    Sometimes, breaking the rules and adding an unexpected element to a logo can make it stand out and be more memorable. This can be achieved through the use of hidden symbolism or incorporating a unique design element.

     

    Luminous McDonalds logo

     

    6) Visibility and Layout

    Now your typeface and symbol are sorted, it’s time to start experimenting with the visibility and layout of your logo.

    During this process, designers have the ability to refine the logo’s message through the placement and size of elements.

    Speaking to Ben, a great tip I received was to mess around with the hierarchy of logo elements when designing, as this can completely change the visual impact of the logo.

    For example, if you want to convey a strong and dominant brand, placing the symbol above or larger than the text can achieve this.

    Alternatively, if you want to create a sense of balance and equality between the symbol and text, placing them side by side with a similar size can achieve this.

    And that goes without saying, the size of the symbol relative to the text is a key factor that must be carefully considered.

    A small symbol can get lost in the design, while an oversized one can overpower the text and make it difficult to read. What’s more, scalability should be kept in mind for future use across different mediums and platforms.

    However, visibility is much more than just experimenting with the alignment and layout of text and graphical elements allows designers to create a unique and impactful logo.

    Logo designers should consider the visibility of their logo and the colours being used. In some cases, it could be beneficial to include a background contrast to increase visibility.

    For example, the FedEx logo is famous for its use of negative space and hidden arrow, but it also uses a strong contrast between purple and orange to make the logo pop.

    A similar effect can be seen in the Facebook logo, where the blue and white colour combination creates a strong contrast that makes it easily identifiable.

    When designing your logo, it’s important to consider how the colours you choose will work together and impact the overall visibility of your logo.

     

    Nike Logo on white background

     

    7) Use Your Space Wisely

    Space is an integral part of any design, whether it’s a logo, a website or a business card.

    Utilising space wisely allows your design to breathe, stand out and be more visually appealing.

    Optimising every inch of space doesn’t mean cramming in more elements; instead, it’s about achieving an optimal balance that enhances the logo’s appeal.

    And here’s a top tip: white space isn’t a bad thing.

    White space (or negative space) serves far more than just an aesthetic function; it plays a critical role in directing the viewer’s attention to the key components of the logo.

    Allowing your logo to ‘breathe’ by incorporating white space can drastically improve its readability and overall impact.

    Throughout this process, it can be a worthwhile exercise to realign and readjust the layout of your elements to achieve the optimal use of space.

    When experimenting with space, it’s all about finding the right balance between form and function.

    Leaning too much either way can blur your brand’s messaging or make your logo unmemorable, so be sure to take the time to get it right.

     

    Holiday hut showing the Coca Cola logo

    The last point on our list is more of a final thought to keep in mind throughout the logo design process.

    It can be tempting to jump on the latest design trends and make your logo look up-to-date, but this can end up being an expensive mistake in the long run.

    If your logo ages quickly, it can be costly and time-consuming to rebrand and redesign.

    It’s a hard truth but it’s probably a sign that you didn’t completely understand your logo’s story and purpose to begin with.

    Knowing if a new trend will stick around is usually more of a gut feeling than anything else.

    Having years of experience within the design space, we can (relatively) safely say we have a firm grasp on what trends are here to stay and which ones will pass.

    The best logos are timeless, iconic and easily recognisable no matter the current trends.

    But saying that, designing a timeless logo isn’t easy.

    It takes thorough understanding, research and creativity to achieve.

    Taking a less is more approach to logo design can be a bold move that takes a lot of courage, but it’s often what separates the iconic logos from the forgotten ones.

    The most memorable logos pack an emotional punch, finding ways to fuse simplicity and memorability without straying too far from their brand’s identity.

     

    FedEx logo on the side of a van

     

    What Makes an Effective Logo Design: Final Thoughts

    Designing an effective logo isn’t easy work. There are many factors that need to be considered, from font selection and colour choices to layout and space utilisation.

    But with the right approach and understanding of your brand’s story and purpose, you can create a logo that stands the test of time.

    Our parting advice is to start small and truly understand your business and brand messaging before jumping into the design process.

    Incorporate trendy elements sparingly or not at all; instead, focus on creating a logo that tells your story without leaning too heavily into fleeting trends.

    Always ask yourself why the logo is being made, what story it tells, and how it will be perceived by your potential customers.

    With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to creating a powerful and impactful logo that accurately represents your brand.

    To discover more about logo design or to take your brand to the next level, contact the Inc Studio team today. Let’s find a way to truly elevate your brand.

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