What Makes A Great Logo? Part 2
December 5, 2018

As we’ve already discussed in our previous post “What Makes a Great Logo? Part One,” logos should be simple, elegant, and memorable. It’s important to clarify exactly what we mean by that. How can you best ensure that your logo will meet those criteria?

1. Simple.

When our cave-dwelling ancestors painted the first depictions of the herding animals they hunted, that was the beginning of our relationship to simplicity in visual art. Minor detail wasn’t as important as form—and from near or far away, in low light and high lighting, it was easy to tell what animal it was that early humans were stalking. It was the essence of the form that mattered—the essence of the figure that quickly communicated a universal message so we immediately could comprehend what we were seeing, and what it meant. Creating a logo is much the same way, and operates by those principles. There’s an inherent child-like quality to many of the most well-known and successful brands in the world. Take Google’s logo for example:

They use the most basic building blocks of the English language, harkening back to our early school days. What does everyone learn in kindergarten? Their ABCs. It is no coincidence that Google’s parent company is named Alphabet. Letters themselves are the simplest form of expression because everyone understands them. The word Google suggests a childish sound, baby-talk. The foundational moments of learning and coming to understand the world around us. Now can you recall what else you learned in kindergarten?

How to color. Color is immediate to our senses . We are able to to distinguish between red, blue, and yellow as toddlers well before we even know what an object is. The use of colors and letters done in a tasteful way is the epitome of simplicity. Google’s logo is bright and attention-grabbing, a rainbow spectrum of color, which is appropriate given the fact that it’s a wide-ranging search engine. Like Apple, it has also gone through a few design incarnations to become the mature, minimalist logo we know today.

2. Elegant.

“Elegance is elimination.” –Cristobal Balenciaga

When we conceive of a logo as elegant, we mean to say that it’s been refined to its most important, impactful components. It’s a distillation, a purified version of its potential, and communicates the spirit of your brand at the most subtle and over levels of awareness.

Consider El Pollo Loco’s evolution from their logotype (font) to the image that was just released this year that directly identifies the name of the company and its “Crazy chicken” culinary occupation: it’s to the point, easy to recall, and not bloated with unecessary details.

Or look at Nike’s swoosh, developed by graphic artist Carolyn Davidson. Her task was to deliver a logo that embodied motion—and it does. Since Nike is an athletic shoe company, and its design can function both as a runner’s foot poised on the brink of mid-sprint, as well as the loping velocity of speed itself. The logo is black, a color that symbolizes strength and power, and it has no edges or croners that slow the shape down as the eye follows it’s natural sweep.

3. Memorable.

What’s one of the most memorable logos you can think of? A logo that has been around so long it’s become a household word in American culture and throughout the world?

Two words: Coca-Cola.

Formulated in 1886, Coca-Cola was invented by American pharmacist John Stith Pemberton, who developed an early version of the beverage, but sold the rights to the patent shortly before his death in 1888 to Asa Griggs Candler, a businessmen whose marketing and salesmanship would make the brand the successful giant that it is today.

Over the last 132 years since it’s inception, the brand has gone through numerous changes in logo design. But the most memorable of all is the classic slanted, swirling Spencerian script text, a dramatic style that was at the height of popularity during the late 19th Century. It was created by Frank M. Robinson, John Pemberton’s bookkeeper who coined the official name of the company as well.

The dramatic, flowing style of the text evoke a sense of timelessness along with the boldness of the red that stands out from even a great distance away. Even after the various redesign stages the company has gone through over its long history, the mystique of the original font has enjoyed universal appeal, and it has never been discarded.

Now that we’ve covered the three most fundamental factors that make a great logo design, in the last installment of this blog series we will explain the importance of considering the different advertising materials your brand may be promoted on, and why that can make or break your logo concept.


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