What Makes a Great Logo Design? 71

Apr 30, 2009 / Erik Peterson


What Makes a Great Logo Design?

A logo, trademark, emblem, brand, logotype, symbol, identity, mark, insignia represents a company to consumers. It gets its meaning from the company it represents, not the other way around. It’s effectiveness can help to sell a product or service to the public. It’s the identifier that consumers sometimes attach themselves to and become loyal to. It’s a visual expression of a company, product or service. The role of the logo is to point or designate in the simplest form possible.

There are five elements that you can find in great and successful logo designs. Most of the logos you know and love will meet all these criteria. When you think of a great logo what brands come to mind? Remember the logos for those brands as you read through this article and see if they meet the five criteria.

  1. Distinctive
  2. Consumers need to be able to recognize a logo. Therefore, a great logo must be distinct, easy to read and understand. The logo should be unique enough to avoid confusion with other companies’ logos. The logo needs to represent the company it stands for so that consumers may associate it with the business each time they see it.

    American Airlines Logo

    The American Airlines logo, designed by Vignelli Associates in 1967, meets all of the criteria we’ll be discussing in this article. The AA logo is instantly recognizable with it’s AA monogram and eagle icon.

    Did you know? The redesign of the AA monogram in the 1960’s didn’t include the eagle. After the employees protested, the designer reluctantly added the stylized eagle that we know today as part of the AA monogram.

  3. Useable
  4. Since, a logo is used across many different mediums, from letterhead and business cards to websites and sales materials to pens and clothing. A good logo must be flexible enough to work in any situation/medium required. In order to meet these demands, a logo should work well in black and white and in color. From a size standpoint, a logo should be simple enough to look good on a business card, yet intriguing enough to work on a large poster or even billboard.

    FedEx Logo

    The FedEx logo was designed by Lindon Leader, in 1994 working as a Senior Design Director at Landor Associates. The logo is bold, scales well and works in all mediums.

    Did you know? Many people don’t notice the clever arrow within the negative space of the ‘e’ and ‘x’ at first glance.

  5. Timeless
  6. To be effective, a logo should stay with the business as it grows. The belief that a new or redesigned logo will somehow transform a business, isn’t uncommon. But a business shouldn't go around changing their logo on a whim. This can weaken the company brand after all of the work a company has put into it. A well-designed logo will persevere for years to come.

    Coca-Cola Logo

    The Coca-Cola logo, designed by Frank Robinson in 1886, is a prime example of a great and timeless logo.

    Did you know? Coca-Cola has one the best recognized logos in the world today, and is recognized in over 200 countries around the world.

  7. Effective without color
  8. A good logo not only needs to work in black and white, but it should also still be effective. If color is needed to communicate the message then perhaps too much emphasis has been place on it.

    McDonalds Logo

    The McDonald’s logo was created by Jim Schindler in 1962. Even though it’s commonly referred to as “The Golden Arches” the logo works very well without the gold color.

    Did you know? The idea of the arches was inspired by the arch shaped signs on either side of the ‘walk-up hamburger stand’. From an angle, the arches looked like the letter “M”. The “McDonald’s” name was later added to the McDonald’s logo in 1968.

  9. Memorable
  10. Your logo should make a statement about your company. It should be engrained in the consumers brain when think of your industry. Therefore, the next time a consumer needs your kind of product or service, you’ll be the fist to come to mind just because of brand recognition.

    American Broadcasting Company Logo

    The American Broadcasting Company logo designed by Paul Rand in 1962 simplified the logo to a circle with the letters ‘abc’ inside. This achieved a memorable and unique image. This logo is still in use today, though it has been mostly replaced with a glossy version of the original designed by Rand.

    In his 1991 article, Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons Paul Rand said,

    “Design, good or bad, is a vehicle of memory. Good design adds value of some kind and, incidentally, could be sheer pleasure; it respects the viewer-his sensibilities-and rewards the entrepreneur. It is easier to remember a well designed image than one that is muddled. A well design logo, in the end, is a reflection of the business it symbolizes. It connotes a thoughtful and purposeful enterprise, and mirrors the quality of its products and services.”

The bottom line is that creating a logo requires a lot of planning, time, thought and often times, money. The meaning behind the design should embrace the mission and image of the company, not the other way around. The effectiveness of these marks are such a key part of brands today’s fast paced world. Ultimately, the role of the logo is to point or identify to the consumer in the simplest form possible.

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We enjoy your comments

71 Comments so far. Keep 'em Coming.


By Fabian

05.01.2009 at 01:03 AM

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All great logos must create a emotional response.A simple icon or wordmark that compels you to buy,sell or discuss.


By Tutorial City

05.01.2009 at 05:27 AM

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Very cool topic. I think it’s important not to follow trends, ‘cause they simply disappear as the times goes.


By Selvin Ortiz

05.01.2009 at 10:57 AM

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@Fabian: I’m with you all the way!


By chris green

05.03.2009 at 07:14 PM

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They don’t come along very often, but they’re great when they do. I also think a great logo is one that you cant simplify any more than it is.


By Joshua Davis

05.03.2009 at 07:46 PM

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I couldn’t agree more. The article was right on and the examples were excellent.


By Tim Schmidt

05.04.2009 at 11:25 PM

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A great logo is simple, with a good story behind it.


By Some Points

05.16.2009 at 04:33 PM

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was creating logo for my site, I was thinking about designing my logo and after reading your article, it help me to think about a particular theme and I made it, you can see on my site somepoints.com, would like to say you thank you very much


By ana paula

06.11.2009 at 12:35 PM

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Toda empresa precisa de uma logo que funcione, que tenha historia, que seja simples!!!


By mina

06.12.2009 at 09:40 AM

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“The Coca-Cola logo, designed by Frank Robinson in 1886, is a prime example of a great and timeless logo.”
look at the logo over the years and you notice it changes.
coca cola change their logo all the time. the changes are so small sometimes that people do not notice it.


By Stephen Hill

06.16.2009 at 08:04 AM

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it’s mazing just how much an impact a logo design has, for me the use of bold colours is what makes them so appealing


By Dhamphy's Online Journal

08.10.2009 at 06:28 PM

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Good points you have there. It’s another learning article for me. Thanks.


By Don

08.27.2009 at 02:06 PM

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Some interpretations…well,very strange.



By Elisa Kuipers

09.15.2009 at 06:57 PM

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A good logo is a logo that you can feel


By james

09.25.2009 at 03:50 AM

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That’s really nice logo designs.


By Logo Design

12.08.2009 at 11:21 AM

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james you are right these logo design are one of the best designs.


By Attitude Design | Graphic Design Portfolio

01.12.2010 at 11:01 AM

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Thanks for this post. I think that the most successful and recognizable logos are the simplest.


By Reannan

05.12.2010 at 08:16 PM

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Consumers need to be able to recognize a logo. Therefore, a great logo must be distinct, easy to read and understand. The logo should be unique enough to avoid confusion with other companies logos. The Rondo Guitars logo needs to represent the company it stands for so that consumers may associate it with the business each time they see it.


By test

06.06.2010 at 08:48 AM

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Thanks for this post. I think that the most successful and recognizable logos are the simplest.


By Nabeel | Create Your First Website

06.12.2010 at 09:00 AM

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Great Article!

But I didn’t get the “Many people don’t notice the clever arrow within the negative space of the ‘e’ and ‘x’ at first glance.”

I still cannot see any arrow in the FedEx logo!

Please help



By Gill

09.17.2010 at 01:41 AM

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Thanks for the tips but I am still new to this one, and would like to learn more. One question here, do you have here not just for logo but for a webpage?


By paul

12.01.2010 at 07:31 PM

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very good, just been to a branding seminar recently and found that brands are emotional where people build that kind of relationship with their brand, and a logo is a small part of it! but good read. im still working on my brand for a new venture that i have, so lots of reading at the moment! grin


By blogger

12.15.2010 at 04:10 AM

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Then you use the tools on the left-hand side of your screen to edit these pixels and to design the icon. If you cannot design your own icon, use an image that has to either be copied or pasted on the icon canvas or by pasting your image from a file.
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12.22.2010 at 07:59 PM

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This is a great article! Thanks!


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07.06.2011 at 06:10 PM

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This is our logo - simple, beautiful and memorable.


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09.26.2013 at 03:46 AM

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