5 guidelines for an effective logo
Do you ever look at a logo and wonder how does that look so good? Why does it work so well and mine doesn’t? Or maybe you’re wondering how to tell if you need a new logo.
At the very core, there are five things that every effective logo follows. If you fail one of more of these guidelines, there’s a good chance you could benefit from an upgrade. There's even a free checklist at the end!
5 guidelines of an effective logo:
Let's dig in a little deeper about why each of these are so important for an effective logo.
Simplicity is key in creating an effective logo. There should be limited elements in your logo. Having too many illustrations, font choices or colours can overcomplicate your image. A pro tip for simplicity is that a child should be able to draw it. This also means it needs to be memorable enough (but more on that below).
We have a way of overcomplicating things, and including more than we actually need to. For example, a food blogger wants a logo that includes every single kitchen tool incorporated into it. But if you follow the simplicity rule, maybe just a spatula is representative enough of who they are. Keep that in mind when you’re looking at your logo. Are there any elements you can take off?
Part of my process for creating logos is to evaluate the goals of the business and determine what the longevity will be.
If the project is only expected to last a year or so, then the logo doesn’t need to last five or ten years and can have a little more of a trendy feel. But if you have big plans for your business, expect to offer different services or products in a few years, or even want to expand your market, then your logo will need to look a little different. In every market there are trends. But that doesn’t mean they’re best suited for your business.
Take a look at your logo, will it last five, ten, or fifteen years? Are there some design trends getting in the way of this? What if you took those out, what would it look like? Does it make it more timeless than before?
Imagine you’re sitting next to a child or even your grandmother. Describe your logo to them. Be as descriptive as possible and paint a picture in their head. Was it easy or was it difficult to do? If you’re having trouble describing it to someone it isn’t simple enough, or memorable enough.
Your logo needs to be easy to remember because it builds brand recognition and loyalty in your audience. Try the experience again, show the logo to a friend, client or someone in your audience. Take the image away and ask them to describe it to you, being as descriptive as possible. Was it easy for them?
If so, then you’ve passed the test! If not, then your logo might need some work. Are there some elements you could add to your logo to make it more memorable (without over complicating things, see simplicity above).
It's not an easy task to create a logo that is memorable but also simple.
Your brand is more than your logo (but that’s a topic for a whole other blog post). Ideally you will be using your logo in every aspect of your business. Everything from a product tag, email signature, business card, thank you cards, favicon on your website, social media images, invoices, newsletters, pens, t-shirts, and signage.
Every business is different and will have their own set of materials they need, but your logo needs to be versatile enough to meet the needs of all of those items even as your business evolves. That means it needs to work in all black, colour and all white.
The reason for so many different versions is because of the variety of backgrounds it can appear on. If you’re posting a dark photo to your blog, you’re going to need a white version to ensure it’s legible.
Some businesses will also have a secondary logo. Generally, it's a good idea to have one version that will work horizontally and one in a vertical or square format. There are a number of social media platforms that require square profile photos (ahem Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). I primarily use a horizontal version but I also have a circle version that I can use for all of those platforms.
Take your logo and put it on a black background. Now do the same with a white background. Does it work in both cases? Try sizing it to smaller than an inch as if it was on some promo product. Can you still make out what it is?
The last element in an effective logo is the appropriateness of the logo. Does it accurately reflect your business, audience and your goals for the next five to ten years? Does it make sense for your audience, would they understand who you are and what you can provide? Does it resonate with them (is it memorable enough for them to remember and draw back for you). Does it work for your industry? No not every business in the same industry should look the same, but does it make sense for your industry or is it too different?
You want to make sure that everything in your logo is appropriate to your business and audience. This includes the font choices, colours, icons and other elements. Were they carefully thought out, or are they part of a design trend that doesn’t really have anything to do with your business?
How did you assessment go? Did you pass all of these or did you fail one or more? If you passed, CONGRATS! Your logo seems to be working for your business and audience.
If you weren’t able to pass all of these, then it might be time for a new brand. Leave a comment below with a link to your logo and I’ll do a free assessment to helo you out.