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Graphic Design: What makes a good logo?

What makes a good logo? A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic, simple in form and conveys an intended message.

There are five principles that you should follow to ensure that this is so…

An effective logo is (in no particular order):

  • Simple
  • Memorable
  • Timeless
  • Versatile
  • Appropriate

1. Simple

A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile & memorable. Good logos feature something unique without being overdrawn.

While in college in the mid-70’s an instructor introduced me to the K.I.S.S. Principle of design; which translates to: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It does convey a very important design consideration. Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client. A refined and distilled identity will also catch the attention of a viewer zipping by signage at 70 miles per hour, on packaging on the crowded shelves of a store, or in any other vehicle used for advertising, marketing and promotion. Remember, the basis of the hugely effective international branding for the world’s largest shoe manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh.

Jeff Fisher

2. Memorable

Following closely behind the principle of simplicity, is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple, yet, appropriate logo.

You may be interested to see some examples of bad logo designs.

Surprising to many, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance, and even appropriateness of content does not always play a significant role.

This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship between a symbol and what it symbolized is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, objectionable. Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.

Paul Rand


3. Timeless

An effective logo should be timeless – that is, it will endure the ages. Will the logo still be effective in 10, 20, 50 years?

Leave trends to the fashion industry – Trends come and go, and when you’re talking about changing a pair of jeans, or buying a new dress, that’s fine, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.

David Airey

Probably the best example of a timeless logo is the Coca-Cola logo… if you compare it to the Pepsi logo below, you can see just how effective creating a timeless logo can be. Notice how the Coca Cola logo has barely changed since 1885? That is timeless design.

Update: 8/08/09 – Underconsideration has posted an updated timeline of the Pepsi vs CocaCola logo. Thanks for the tip off Jon.


Read the rest of the tips here————>


JACOB CASS is self-employed as a graphic designer, specialising in the fields of corporate identity (logo) design, web design, print design and branding. He is the founder of Creative Design, a blog on the main subject of graphic design and freelancing.

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