5 Principles of Effective Logo Design

April 18, 2019

What makes a logo effective? And more importantly, what does it do for your business? I want to quickly discuss the 5 principles of an effective logo design, and why some logos just missed the mark, or are flat out hindering your business. This article is to educate new businesses & startups, business owners thinking of making a change, or anyone who may be curious and want a better understanding of the importance of a successful logo.


1. Simple

Less is more.

A simple logo is more effective than a highly complex logo. But why? Well, the less amount of information you have to take in, the less amount of time it will take to fully process that information. This is the foundation for what will be discussed in the following points. Keeping the logo design as simple as possible while still maintaining differentiation is the key to achieving a recognizable identity. Which, from the highest level, is the number one goal when developing a logo.

Example of simple logos

2. Memorable

Having a memorable logo, or a memorable element in your mark is extremely important and for obvious reasons. If people can’t remember anything about your logo, then what’s the point? There are many ways to help make a logo memorable. In my experience, keeping it simple and differentiating it some from the segment is one way to achieve this. Other ways could include careful color choices, products or branding elements that support the logo in communicating your company’s beliefs, and keeping your logo versatile — making it easy to use.

Memorable logo comparison

3. Versatile

An effective logo must be versatile. You never know how big your company may become and the future uses that your logo may be needed for. Right now you may only need it for business cards, your store front, and on company vehicles. But what if next year you intend on getting your website launched along with more social media engagement? Your logo needs to look great and be legible when it’s sitting in the bottom corner of a tiny business card, but also when it’s blown up to life size on a billboard around town. You never want to be limited on where your logo can go.

Versatile Target rebrand — 2018

4. Timeless

This is a big one, and probably the most challenging to pull off. The last thing you want, is to have to change your logo 3 years down the road. Steve Jobs once said —

“Usually it takes 10 years and $100 million to associate a symbol with the name of the company”.

Granted most aren’t at that level yet, but having to rebrand after a couple of years could be costly and damaging. The best thing you can do to achieve this is to avoid trendy elements that will be “out of style” in a few years, and again keep the logo as simple as possible.

IBM logo from 1972–2019 (no changes)

5. Appropriate

Finally, I will touch on appropriateness. You want your logo to be appropriate to the segment that it resides in. For example, you wouldn’t want a frowning smiley face logo if you own a daycare business. Same goes for making sure there are no hidden images or profanity when flipping the logo upside-down or when viewing it from a distance — or if half of the logo is covered up. (Unless this is appropriate for your market and intentional).

Example of logo appropriateness

There is a lot of subjectivity floating around when it comes to good logos vs. bad ones. I wanted to give a brief overview of some objective ideas that can be used as guidelines when having your logo developed. I hope that I have provided some value here, and will be diving deeper in future posts.

Thank you!
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