Logo Design 101

October 17, 2014

light bulb drawing

We have used logos, marks and symbols for centuries. We've used these art forms to identify entities and tell stories.

One of the most influential designers Paul Rand (1914-1996) set the bar high for logo design. He is known for designing several notable corporate logos, including IBM, UPS and ABC, among others. Paul once said, 'The role of the logo is to point, to designate-in as simple a manner as possible. A design that is complex, like a fussy illustration or an arcane abstraction, harbors a self-destruct mechanism.'

So what makes a good logo?

  1. Flexibility

  2. Your logo needs to adapt to various mediums and applications. Consider the following questions.
    How will your logo look printed at different sizes?
    How well will it look on your website at a smaller scale?
    Can you transform your logo to one color?

    A logo should be designed in black before any color is added. This will allow the logo to be flexible. For example, if you are working with a dark background, a flexible logo would allow you to inverse the logo to white or a lighter tone of color to contrast and maintain readability.

    Always keep in mind all mediums, including the following:
    Screen Printing
    Off-Set Printing
    Commercial Printing
    Digital Printing
    Web Use
    Promotional Products

  4. Simplicity

  5. In art school the K.I.S.S. concept (Keep It Simple Stupid) was consistently drilled into our heads.

    Think of some current corporate logos. Which ones come to mind immediately? To push it even further, think about the colors. Most tend to use only one or two colors.

    A fellow artist/teacher, Hans Hofmann once said, 'The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.'

  7. Memorability

  8. This one can be tricky, but when done properly it's effective. Your logo must have something unique so your audience can easily remember and identify it. But at the same time, don't forget flexibility and simplicity.

  10. Durability

  11. Logo trends tend to change, but what does not change are the principles of design. When you design your logo to be flexible, simple, and memorable, it will have a lasting impact.

    A good example of a logo with durability is Coca-Cola's. Since their first labels were printed in the 1900s, they have kept the same iconic look, except for 1985 when they attempted to redesign their logo.

  13. Suitability
Your logo needs to fit your business needs. As an insurance agency, I do not recommend a logo that resembles an amusement park or high-end fashion boutique. As obvious at it seems, this concept can get lost in the design process.


The colors you use also need to reflect your business. The colors for an insurance agency differ extensively from a high-end fashion boutique logo.



Lastly, a logo does not have to symbolize the services or products you offer. The purpose of the logo is to immediately identify your business. For example, when you're driving and notice two huge golden arches with a red shape below, in a split second you know it is McDonald's even though the symbol does not include a cup, burger, and fries.

The most important thing to remember in designing your logo is your business. A logo only takes on meaning by association with your business.

Paul Rand explains, 'A logo derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.'

Investing in a well-designed logo is pivotal to your brand. Keep it flexible, simple, memorable, long-lasting and suitable to your business needs.

What are some of your favorite logos? Tell us in the comments below.

Did you know in addition to websites, we also design logos? If you need a logo or need a re-design of your current logo, call us at (800) 383-3482.



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