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Four characteristics of great logos

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I came across an article online from Inc. magazine today about great logo designs. There are some incredibly good points made in this article. I’ve been creating logos for almost 25 years now and I’ve learned a lot of things during this wonderful journey. And this list summarizes some of top items. Take a look:


What Makes a Logo Great? Milton Glaser, the legendary graphic designer best known for the “I Love New York” logo, says that it has to do with simplicity. “You want to move the viewer in a perception so that when they first look at [the logo]…they get the idea, because that act between seeing and understanding is critical,” he recently told the graphic design blog Design Informer. We expanded Glaser’s point and compiled a list of four characteristics that distinguish great logos from the legions of the not-so-great.

  1. Make It Unique: Your logo should stand out and be recognized among the slew of others in the same market space. Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of Sitepoint.com, suggests staying away from overly used icons, like globes and arrows. And according to graphic designer David Airey, you should keep in mind that a logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. “The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an aeroplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer,” he writes on the popular logo design site Logo Design Love. So don’t feel like your coffee shop’s logo needs to show coffee beans.
  2. Make It Adaptable: Strong logos translate well across different mediums. Will your logo evoke the same meaning on a business card as it will on a billboard? “Keeping the design simple allows for flexibility in size,” writes Airey. “Ideally, your design should work at a minimum of around one inch without loss of detail.” Mickiewicz adds that when a logo does not reproduce well on a small scale it causes problems for a brand’s clarity and value.
  3. Make It Appropriate: Before embarking on any sort of marketing campaign, you must first nail down your target audience. A logo needs to accurately reflect a company’s culture and values: the company’s essence. “Designing for a lawyer? Ditch the fun approach. Designing for a kid’s TV show? Nothing too serious,” writes Airey. Doing some market research is critical, too. Mickiewicz warns that color is a major attribute in determining the appropriateness of a logo design. “Different colors are associated with different meanings in different cultures. It’s important to think about how the colors in your logo reflect your brand values and the services or products you sell,” he says.
  4. Make It Timeless: Milton Glaser created the “I Love New York” logo in 1975. Thirty-six years later, shirts and tchotchkes bearing that ubiquitous emblem still line the walls of gift shops around the world. “I did the bloody thing in 1975, and I thought it would last a couple of months as a promotion and disappear,” said Glaser in a 2009 interview for Big Think.
Good is just fine for some logos. Other times, you want a great one. I think if you use these characteristics as your measuring stick, it can help you determine what height your logo reaches in terms of greatness. Where is yours at?