• brucemckinnon

What makes a good logo?



They say a picture paints a thousand words, and when it comes to creating a logo it’s important those thousand words are telling the right story. That’s primarily the job of the brand strategy, to provide direction to the design team in creating a logo or to ensure that any finessing of an existing logo remains true to the intent of the brand.


The logo’s job is to represent the brand graphically so that whenever the customer sees the logo, they see the brand it represents. The most successful logos can do this without even having to feature the name of the brand – if you have an iPhone, you’ll find the Apple logo on the reverse and if you have a magnifying glass you may just be able to find the name Apple on it too.


Possibly the most famous is the Nike logo, the rounded tick, or swoosh as it’s called, seen everywhere from professional sports teams and the shirts of famous sports stars to the millions of us that jog, do Pilates, play golf, etc. The swoosh represents a brand worth over $36bn in 2020, making it the world’s most valuable fashion brand[1].


So, what does it take for a logo to be good?


Firstly, it needs to be distinctive – to stand out from other brands. If you happen to be at the Courthauld Gallery in London you will find an excellent example of a distinctive logo - look closely at Manet’s painting of A Bar at the Folies-Bergère[2] to discover a couple of bottles of Bass beer, recognisable by their vivid red triangles.


Secondly, To be true to the brand it represents. So that means you either need to see elements of the brand strongly represented in the logo or be able to use the logo as a starting point to express those elements. When BMW relaunched the Mini brand in 2000 it featured a logo very similar to the logo from Mini’s heyday in the 1960s[3] – it did this to reassure customers that the spirit of the brand was the same.


Thirdly, the logo needs to be memorable. We are all aware of the multitude of images we are exposed to on a daily basis, but brand logos have always needed to enter and stay in our minds. Take a look at the back of a pair of Levi’s and you’ll see a couple of horses pulling a pair of jeans in opposite directions, connoting the toughness of the denim with its unique copper rivets. The story goes that back in the 19th century customers would ask for “those pants with two horses[4].


So, every facet of your logo needs to be able to tell a story about your brand that is authentic, directional and true to the brand strategy. If the brand is about integration, the elements should engage with one another. If it’s about delivering clarity, there should be clean lines and sharp edges. If it’s about providing security, consider colours and shapes that communicate stability and consistency.


That’s not to say a customer will always see work that’s in the logo, but it is about you or your team knowing that the logo has been created to express the brand strategy, that there is nothing superfluous about its presentation, however clever, cool or beautiful your logo ends up being!


And talking of beauty, next blog we’ll look at how the colour and shape of your logo can add to or take away from your brand story.


[1] Most valuable fashion brands. Available at https://fashionunited.com/i/most-valuable-fashion-brands. (Accessed September 20-21) [2] Natividad A. “Stella Artois Becomes Isabella Artois, Honoring Its First CEO … From 300 Years Ago”. Muse by Clio. 2019. Available at: https://musebycl.io/advertising/stella-artois-becomes-isabella-artois-honoring-its-first-ceo-300-years-ago (Accessed: 16 July 2019) [3] Boeriu H. “The History of the MINI Cooper”. BMW Blog. 2012. Available at: https://www.bmwblog.com/2012/07/05/the-history-of-the-mini-cooper (Accessed: 16 July 2019) [4] Thorpe L. “Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Levi’s’ Two Horse, Red Tab, and Batwing Logos”. Highsnobelity. 2018. Available at: https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/levis-logo-history(Accessed: 16 July 2019)


38 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All