A lot of people convince themselves that a logo isn’t a tricky thing to come up with and that it doesn’t require any particular skills. While it’s admirable to take a DIY approach, and sometimes it seems like a thrifty move for bootstrapping startups and small businesses, a logo really isn’t a smart place to forgo professional services.
A logo that works well has a lot going on in a deceptively simple little package, and it takes some know-how to pull it off. A professional graphic designer is also better able than most laypeople to respect important principles of good design.
In other words, many who try to make their own logo end up with something confusing or unattractive, or at least something that’s obviously an amateur effort. And that doesn’t reflect well on the brand at all.
Your logo is an icon that represents your brand to the world, and consumers are strongly affected by visuals. To show some different layers of effective logo design, here’s a quick look at a few primary characteristics of powerful contemporary logos:
Logos Should Be Targeted
At the core of any effective branding effort is a solid grasp of your organization’s target audience and its prevailing buyer persona. Serious people like no-nonsense logos, rugged people appreciate rugged logos, rich people are drawn to elegant logos, kids relate to fun and colorful logos, and so on. These images should have the same sort of personality you’re hoping to appeal to.
Logos Should Adapt
Businesses stick their logos all over the place, in the brick-and-mortar world, in print, on merchandise, and online. You want yours to display attractively on your store sign, your newspaper ad, your reusable bags, the header of your website, the mobile version of your site, on all your social media profiles, and everywhere else. This requires elements that scale well, and avoiding the various types of lines, fonts, color gradations, and other attributes that can get distorted on different digital platforms.
Logos Should Communicate
In the minds of consumers, effective logos get wrapped up in your brand image. They immediately trigger certain ideas, qualities, or emotions associated with your company. Your logo can be deliberately designed to reinforce these thoughts, and even to build on them. Conversely, a weak logo design works against branding. If you’re in an industry relying on cutting-edge technology, but your logo looks like it was created in 1986, you have a problem.
Logos Should Be Memorable
Your logo is a shorthand way for people to think of your organization. If it sticks in their minds and doesn’t look like dozens of others out there, consumers are more likely to think of your brand when they need its products or services. Similarly, if people readily recall your logo, they recognize your brand just by its icon, even without signage or other cues. Starbucks enjoys lots of business from this; all it has to do is make its mermaid visible, even from afar, and people know where to head for their caffeine fix.
Logos Should Be Simple
Keeping things simple and straightforward with logo design helps fulfill most of the above. Plus, logos shouldn’t confuse people, leaving them trying to figure out what it is, as that undermines the image’s branding power. When you think of the most recognizable logos in the world—the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike swish, Apple’s apple, Target’s target, even Batman’s symbol—they’re all remarkably simple when you consider how iconic and far-reaching they are.
To learn more about some of the fundamental aspects of branding that inform your logo design, check out these related topics: