First things first: We LOVE talking about logos…
…but there are a couple of things we need to clear up before we go any further. You may already know these things, so humor us if that’s the case:
Your logo is NOT your brand
Your brand is like your (or your organization’s) soul. It’s almost spiritual. It’s the meaning and purpose behind it all. Think of your logo as your face. It’s the immediately recognizable, most significant, own-able & visual expression of who you are.
Your logo IS your identity
Lots of times when you hear ‘Identity’ in a business or marketing sense, it’s referring to your logo. Great logos are meticulously thought-out and composed pieces of artwork that represent brands in the most important way any visual can, and you CAN systematically characterize the things that make them great.
If you spent time Google-ing stuff like this before, you’re a nerd. JUST KIDDING. We geek out over this stuff too and we’ve added our unique expert perspective to some of the universal criteria that follows.
Here we go. A great logo should be:
Maybe I’m dating myself, but if you have a chance to design a logo (or have a logo designed for you or your org.) heed the cautionary tale of Homer Simpson’s car; just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. You may feel tempted to add every bell an whistle that comes to your mind, but restrain yourself. The very best logos are simple because they smartly communicate a meaning that is easy to understand, and the artwork is bold and easy to reproduce in any medium at any scale. (websites, TV programming, matchbooks, billboards, embroidery, etc.)
A great logo should be disruptive in a positive way. In the sea of media we all live in, most of the thousands of messages we have to sort through every day become noise. A great logo grabs and holds people’s attention with dynamic aesthetic attributes (form, color, typography, iconography) leaving a lasting impression. These logos conveys clever, purposeful meaning about who and what (remember, it’s the the brand’s identity) it represents.
The memorability of a brand identity design has a lot to with it’s longevity. A great logo design is trend relevant, but not subject to trend. Brands are living things and as such, need to grow and evolve over time. The strongest brands know what their DNA is and have logos that may change, but are made up of immutable visual characteristics.
Great logos allow their owners to get a lot of miles out of their use. Here’s what we mean: A great logo design is the anchor of a brand identity system. A great identity system is composed of a lot of harmonious assets that give the brand a dynamic assortment of tools to communicate with - beyond just words and slapping logo art everywhere logo art.
We talk with almost every identity design client about a really important aspect of designing great logos–the logo is for the people. As owners of the brand, people should love their logos. A lot. But a critical requirement to great logo design is that the idea is primarily not about the owners, it’s about the audience the logo needs to connect with and inspire. Logo design that is relevant is about understanding audiences and projecting visual cues that will resonate with them.
Built on Purpose
Lastly, we believe whole heartedly that great logo design is about strategy and uncovering what’s at the heart of your brand so you can powerfully convey that sense of purpose to the world. Once you establish that kind of brand clarity, you open up the richest possibilities that will inspire the people who see it.