What makes a great logo design?

We all see a great logo design nearly everyday of our lives. So why is it that we all see so many bad ones as well? The great logo designs out there don’t appear to be much on the surface. What makes them great, and how can you achieve the same when it comes to your own business logo? 

There are numerous reasons a logo design becomes great, far too many to outline in one article. However, we’re going to have a look at 5 key aspects that go into creating a great logo design.

K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid)

It’s a rule that probably dates back as old as time. And it still exists for a very good reason. Far to often in life, not only design, people over-complicate solutions often making them more complex than the initial problem.

Design is nothing more that solving a problem. In the case of logo design you’re solving the problem of making a business recognisable by the form of a symbol or wordmark. In reality that is quite a simple problem, and most of the time it has a very simple solution. It’s finding that solution that is the tricky part.

If we take a look at some of the most iconic logo designs around at the moment it becomes obvious that simplicity plays a huge role in fashioning a great logo design.

All of the above logos are visually very simple, there’s nothing overly ornate or intricate. They look like anyone could have knocked them up in a few minutes. And that’s key to a great logo design. It should be a solution so simple, and so elegant, that it looks like anyone could have come up with it.

Obviously there is more to these logos than first meets the eye. They’re more than just a pretty symbol or nice wording, they reflect and have a connection to the brand they represent leading us nicely into our second key point of great logo design.

a great logo design has a connection.

Simply having a great looking symbol or wordmark to represent your business isn’t enough, it needs to have a connection to your business. By this I do not mean that your logo has to literally show people what your do. In fact, this kind of literal approach is something I would advise steering clear of to avoid getting lost in a sea of similar identities. Something often found in cheap logo design.

A great logo design will connect to your business in a more intimate way. If we look at the Amazon and FedEx logos they both utilise an arrow in their logos but do so in completely different ways, and for completely different reasons.

Amazon & FedEx Logos


Amazon has an arrow in there logo spanning underneath the type of the logo. This arrow finds itself going from A-Z. A subtle nod towards the fact that customers can find anything they want on Amazon from A-Z.

FedEx use an arrow within there logo in a very different way. Using negative space a forward pointing arrow is hidden within the E and X of the logo. This represents the service the company provides in delivering a package from one place to another.

Two great ways of using an arrow to reflect what each company does, without using a cliched method or symbol that directly relates to their services. A great logo design tactic that can be used to brilliant effect.

don't rely on colour.

Colour is a fantastic tool in design, it provides emotion and context which are crucial to any design. Logo design is no exception. However, a great logo design should not rely on colour to be iconic and representative of a business.

Logos are designed to be versatile and used in a whole range of situations, many of which require the logo to be devoid of colour entirely. More often that not this is because it is being placed over an image where using colour would mean the logo would get lost in the picture.

Because of this it’s very important that your logo works without any colour at all. If we look at some of the most iconic logo designs from around the world it’s easy to see this in action.

If we remove all colour from both the Windows logo and the Target logo it’s easy to see that they are still in fact the Windows and Target logo. They’re still just as impactful and still relate back to the business. Logos that require colour to separate aspects of the logo, or use a gradient or shadows, to emphasise the shape are not suitable versatile and as such will never be a truly great logo design.

Windows & Target Logos - Monocrhome

simplicity brings scalability.

As I’ve already mentioned, a simple logo design often equates to a great logo design. But there is an additional reason as to why a simple logo design is effective. Logos are no longer used just on shop front signage, or letterheads and business cards. They’re in use across all mediums of marketing within a business and this means sometimes they will need to be produced at very small sizes.

App icons, social media profile pictures and favicons are all seen on a daily basis by your customers and more often than not it’s your logo that they will see. All of these, especially when viewed on a mobile device, are incredibly small in size making it more important than ever that your logo is identifiable at these small sizes.

Intricate and ornate logos may look fantastic when seen at large scale but soon become blurry and unrecognisable when scaled down to the small sizes required today. A great logo design will still have impact and and be easily identified by customers no matter what size its at.

building a great brand.

A great logo design will never get the recognition it deserves without a great brand behind it. Once you make the decision to create a great logo design for your business it’s important not to stop there. Build on it and make sure the rest of the brand follows the message your logo delivers.

Create a brand with cohesion so that your logo always sits well within marketing materials and in-house stationery. Always follow brand guidelines so that the impact of the logo design remains as strong as possible. Most importantly, stick to your brand principles in your day to day operations so the way your function is as solid and professional as your logo.

we can help create your great logo design.

If reading this has got you thinking about your own company logo then great! If you’d like to find out how we can help create you a great logo design please feel free to get in touch. We offer free consultations to everyone and provide detailed quotations on all projects.

Has reading this made you want to have a go at redesigning your own logo? That’s great too. Anything we can do to help rid the world of bad logo design we will consider a success!

About the author

Mark is a logo design and brand identity specialist, and founder of Foundation Design Agency. He has worked for many years as a freelance logo designer operating www.thelogomark.co.uk. He has a passion for all aspects of brand identity design as well as being a keen NFL fan and occasional songwriter.

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