What Makes a Good Logo?

One of the most important marketing tools is an effective logo. It provides an easily recognizable identity for your business or organization. It not only communicates who you are but what you are. Therefore, every business or organization contemplating adopting a logo should know the criteria that make for an effective logo.

The first characteristic of an effective logo is that it has immediate impact. Your logo should catch the viewer’s eye and hold the viewer’s attention. Consider the logo of Apple Computers; the graphic apple with a stylized bite taken out of it has immediate product and corporate identification with consumers. An effective logo “grabs” attention.

In addition to impact, a good logo must be good to look at. An effective logo should have the look and feel of “art”, if a logo is not appealing to the eye it will defeat its purpose – attracting attention and providing effective identification.

Closely related to these first two characteristics of a good logo, is distinctiveness. A good logo must stand out from the crowd. A logo that is too similar to other logos is not only confusing but it could be embarrassing or even costly. In 2003, the Chicago Bears sued another professional football team over a logo that was too similar to the Bears’ logo!

This brings us to the next characteristic of an effective logo the logo must create or evoke a positive image. “Branding” is a common marketing principle based on product identification growing out of identifying a product with a positive image and a sense of goodwill.

Another characteristic of a good logo is that it accurately represents the organization or business. If a company or organization wants to project a serious, professional image, the logo must look professional. A humorous or whimsical logo would be counterproductive to projecting professionalism.

A good logo must also be straightforward. It has to be free from ambiguity. If the meaning of the logo is vague, if it creates doubt, or if it is indistinct, it cannot be effective.

An effective logo is also comprehensible. A logo must be legible and immediately recognizable from a distance. The meaning of a logo is so tied to its distinct visual form that recognition, a principle function of the logo, would be lost if it were not comprehensible.

The best logos are the most memorable logos. The Apple Computer “Apple” logo and the McDonald’s Hamburgers “golden arches” are great logos because they are memorable to the point of being iconic.

A logo must also be flexible enough to give the same impression yesterday, today, and tomorrow so the logo design survives changing fashion. Originally, Apple designed its logo as a monochrome apple with a bite taken out of it to symbolize the acquisition of knowledge. With the advent of the Apple II and its advantage of displaying color, however, Apple added multi-colored bands to its logo.

A good logo must also copy well. In any business or organization, the use of a logo becomes ubiquitous – it is ever-present on buildings, letterhead, signs, products, promotional items, etc. A good logo will be as effective on a business card as it is on a billboard – small scale and large scale uses. Will the logo still be recognizable printed on the barrel of a ballpoint pen?

A logo identifies a business or organization so it would be counterproductive to change it because it did not wear well over time. Do you remember what we said about “branding” earlier in this article? Companies that have invested vast amounts of money, time, and effort to establish their “brand” do not change it frequently for a reason. Make sure your logo will be “timeless” for the same reason.

Finally, the last criteria for a good logo it is a logo you will be proud to use it. If your logo meets all the criteria listed above, it will be an effective logo and one that you and your organization will be proud to use.