The Principles of Logo Design: How to Choose a Logo for Your Business
Logos. Let’s talk about them, shall we?
A logo is a necessity for your business and for creating your brand, but they’re also a sticking point that many people get stuck on.
How should your logo look? Should it be just text or have a graphic? How much is too much?
A logo is one of the most important branding tools a business can have. It is often the first thing people see when they encounter a company, and it can leave a lasting impression. That's why it's so important to choose a logo that accurately represents your business and its values.
In this blog post, I'll dive into the core principles of logo design (they are simplicity, memorability, scalability, and versatility for those of you who are taking notes). I'll also provide some logo design tips on how to choose a design that is perfect for your business.
What counts as a logo?
Let's nail down logo basics before we jump into the deep end.
A logo design can be complex, such as the ones used by many tattoo shops or breweries, or the design can be as simple as Google’s all-text logo.
The level of detail depends on what your business stands for, what it offers, and its target audience.
For instance, a medical company would do well to stick to a clean and simple design—either all text or with a small graphical element—rather than using small, intricate elements. This would help to convey calm, professionalism, and cleanliness: all things that a medical company would want to be associated with their brand.
On the other hand, a fashion designer or boutique could add those detailed elements to make their logo look luxurious and high-end.
In short, any design can be a logo design. No, seriously, anything. However, you often want to include the written name of your business in your logo. Unless you’re as famous as Apple or Nike, you want to ensure that people can see the name of your company along with any icons.
The Apple logo is considered one of the most iconic logos of all time and is an immediately recognizable brand mark.
The Nike swoosh is also instantly recognizable - it brings to mind their "just do it" brand tagline.
These icon logos work well on their own with just a few elements, but only because we all know which companies they represent.
Unless you are globally recognized, you should include your brand name in your logo.
Why is having a good logo important?
A logo is an important branding tool because it is often the first thing people see when they discover your business. It's your first impression with your customer, so make it count! A good logo can help customers start to connect with your brand on an emotional level, and a bad logo can send them running away screaming.
Because your logo is the face of your business, it should accurately reflect your company’s values and brand personality. When choosing a logo, it’s important to consider what you want it to communicate to your audience. Whether you like it or not, your logo represents what your business is, and who you serve.
For example, if you’re targeting young adults, you may want to use a fun and trendy logo design. If you’re targeting corporate clients, you may want a more professional and elegant design.
Your unique logo should also be consistent with the overall branding strategy for your business. It should be memorable, easily recognizable, and timeless. A well-designed logo is an investment that will pay off in the long run by helping to build customer loyalty and create a strong brand identity.
Logo design principles: Simplicity
The first principle of logo design is simplicity. A simple, yet effective design will help your business communicate what it does in an easy-to-understand way so that you can garner trust and confidence quickly.
Many people think simplicity is boring and that more is better. Well...I'd argue that's not necessarily the case.
Sometimes the most effective logo designs are the simplest. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for detail, but it’s not every place.
When considering the principles of logo design for your business, consider whether a simple or a complex design better suits your brand.
When is a simple logo design better?
Simple pairs well with professionalism, boldness, modernism, and most ages and gender audiences. A good thing about a simple design is that it pairs well with bold fonts and bright colors, which helps to make your logo memorable.
As you'll see in the examples below, simple is anything but boring. Let’s take a look at some logo designs!
This logo design is bright and colorful and provides an abstract representation of the events and party business it represents.
This logo design uses simple shapes and bold colors to stand out.
Using simple shapes and clean typography, this logo design communicates that it represents a sports store.
If you break these logos down, they are all quite simple: one or two lines of text at most, and a bold but minimalistic graphical element.
Would you say that they are boring? No, and that's because color saves the day, helping these logos pop off the screen.
Maybe you want more of an understated, traditional look. Well, a simple logo design can pull that off too.
Using a serif font and framing, this logo conveys a clean look with classic style.
The design balance of this logo makes it very easy to read, and helps establish trust.
Have you noticed that the range of style and usage for simplistic logos is uncanny
That’s because many businesses stick to more of a simplistic logo, due to their incredible versatility. What’s more, you never have to worry about scaling down too far and losing any detail or design elements. You really can’t go wrong with simple.
The exception that proves the rule: when is a complex logo design better?
While a good general logo design principle is to keep your logo simple, some business fields and models do lend themselves well to a detailed logo.
Companies involved in sports, academics, the arts, or high-end products and services can make great use of complex designs for their marketing materials.
What’s great about detailed logos is they can run the gamut from bold, modern, and masculine, to soft, traditional, and feminine quite easily.
Below are some examples of the different styles of complex design templates from Canva, ranging from bold and modern, to soft and traditional.
I would not recommend detailed designs for more corporate businesses, or individuals involved in law, finance, or consulting. Though striking and impressive, the complexity of these logos is better suited for businesses involved in some kind of non-corporate field.
This is partly because, when the logo design is scaled down to fit in the corner of a business card or other design, it could potentially lose its detail.
If you intend to use a complex design like these on business cards or letterheads, I would recommend making the various graphic elements a main part of the overall design, and not just a small complementary element to it.
What if my business would work with multiple logo styles?
If your company would do well with both a simple logo and a complex one, you may be wondering how to narrow down your design ideas. Well, now it comes down to aspects like your audience, business model, and that secret spice: personal preference.
For instance, let’s assume that you have a business specializing in cosmetics or beauty products. Both styles of logo design complement your services, so now you can ask yourself if you like a more modern or more delicate design. Here are some examples.
While these are extreme examples of both styles, they clearly illustrate how two logos can be drastically different from each other and still fit the aesthetic of a business.
Before you decide on where your logo will land on the simple to complex spectrum, think through whether an intricate logo design style would better suit your brand or if too much detail would only distract from the initial impression you want to make.
Logo design principles: Memorability
A memorable logo is a key element of any successful brand. After all, if people can’t remember who you are, they’re not going to buy your product or use your service.
So how do you create a logo that people will remember? Here are some tips for making your logo design memorable.
Start with your target audience and work backward.
Your logo needs to provide an immediate and clear sense of what you offer, so it's helpful to picture your target audience first.
For example, if you’re a company that sells products for children, your logo should be playful and kid-friendly.
Alternatively, if you’re a company that provides financial services, your logo should convey trust and professionalism. Ultimately, an effective and easy-to-remember logo is one that accurately reflects your brand and resonates with your target audience.
Use strong, vibrant colors. Bright colors are more likely to stick in people's minds.
When it comes to creating a memorable logo design, using strong and vibrant colors is a great way to stand out from the competition and it helps to showcase your brand personality.
Bright colors are more likely to stick in people's minds, so if you want your logo to be remembered, make sure to use bold shades.
Create an image or shape that is unique and distinct.
This can be done by using an unusual shape or incorporating an animal or other recognizable element into the graphic design. Never use stock art or images that are easily found online. Not only will this make your logo look unoriginal, but it could also get you into legal trouble.
Avoid using trendy elements that will quickly date the logo.
While it's important to be current, it's also important to avoid using trendy elements in your logo. These elements will quickly date the logo and make it look outdated. Instead, opt for a timeless design that will stand the test of time.
By following these tips, you can create a logo that will make a lasting impression on everyone who sees it.
Logo design principles: Scalability
A scalable logo is important for any business because it will likely appear in many different formats. When your logo looks good no matter what size it is, it sends a message to customers that you're a professional organization that takes its branding seriously.
Ask yourself: does your logo look good when it's small? Does your logo look good when it's huge, such as on a billboard? If the answer is yes, then you have a logo that passes the scalability test.
Logo design principles: Versatility
Simply put, a versatile logo is a design that works in multiple places. A versatile logo is important for any business because it will likely appear anywhere that you want your business to get attention. A static logo only works in specific situations.
Your logo should be able to work in a variety of contexts, including on websites, social media profiles, print materials, and more. By having a versatile logo that looks great no matter where it's used, you'll be able to create a strong and consistent brand identity for your business.
When your logo looks good no matter where it's placed, customers will take notice and will be more inclined to choose your business over one that isn't as professional.
How to Get a Logo Design
Okay, by now you hopefully have an idea of what design style you want for your logo and the key principles of logo design that a successful logo needs to incorporate.
Now the question is, how do you get a logo of your own? Well, you essentially have two options: make it yourself, or hire a brand designer to make one based on your preferences and budget.
Whether you're at the stage where you need to bootstrap by creating your logo yourself or whether it's time to go searching for logo designers, here's how you can go about getting the perfect logo.
Option A: design your logo yourself
There are multiple ways to make your logo, ranging from using Adobe’s Creative Suite, to logo creators online. Below are several methods of logo creation, as well as their pros and cons.
Adobe Creative Cloud
The method of choice for many graphic designers, Adobe Creative Cloud has a plethora of software to help you create logos—specifically Adobe Illustrator.
However, Adobe is infamous for having a steep learning curve, which doesn't make it a great option for people looking just to create a logo.
For those who have some experience with Adobe, there really is no comparison. But I would not recommend it to people with little to no experience in graphic design.
- This design tool offers the highest level of customization
- Designer-quality software
- Allows you a full range of resolution and file formats for your logo
- The software has a very steep learning curve
- Expensive long-term investment
- Adobe Creative Cloud is not beginner friendly
Online Logo Creators
For those without the budget or desire to go the Adobe route, there are much more user-friendly (and wallet-friendly) options. These include online logo creators. Many websites offer them as either primary or secondary services, including:
- Squarespace Logo Maker
- Ucraft Logo Maker
- Tailor Brands Logo Maker
- Online Logo Maker
- DesignEvo Free Logo Maker
Many options allow you to create, design, and download a low-resolution file for free, while a high-resolution file can be purchased. Others, like Canva and Wix, require you to sign up to use their features or save your graphic design.
- Easy for newcomers to design
- Budget-friendly option
- Some websites you might already be using have a logo creator built-in
- Fairly simple to learn
- Limited range of customization
- Limited file extensions and resolution
- Some online logo builders have clipart-based graphical elements
Option B: hire a brand designer to create a logo for you
Maybe you don’t have the time or the desire to make your own logo. Or, maybe you’ve found that making your logo is more difficult than you thought. Well, don’t worry, you can always hire a logo designer to make one for you.
There are countless ways to handle hiring a graphic designer—whether they are part of a design agency or a freelancer. You may have heard people mention astronomical sums when mentioning logos...that’s only for Fortune 500 Companies. You’ll find when looking for designers, that they’re much more affordable than rumors would have you believe.
If you do choose to hire a graphic designer, I recommend looking over their portfolio or samples of the work that they provide.
Every designer should do this without question. This will help you avoid landing on a list of questionable logo designs.
Next steps for helping your brand stand out online
Hopefully, with the help of this article, you now have a strategy on how to conceptualize and create your business's logo. Remember: it's not about chasing design trends; it's about creating a strong logo that accurately reflects your brand identity.
And if you still need help, you’ll be happy to know that we offer logo design, as well as a full suite of branding design services. No matter what your business industry is or what your particular branding needs are, we’d love to help you boost your brand with a stunning logo design.
Need help with other areas of your business’s branding? Check out our other helpful branding guides. They can help you learn how to create your brand, find your target audience, and much more.
Frequently asked questions about principles of logo design
What are the basic principles of logo design?
There are a few basic principles that all effective logo designs adhere to: simplicity, memorability, scalability, and versatility.
Simplicity is key—a logo should be easy to understand and quickly communicate what your business is about.
Memorable logos stick in people’s minds, so they can remember who you are and what you do.
Scalability means your logo will look good in any size, from a tiny icon on a business card to a huge billboard.
And finally, versatility means your logo will work in any context, whether it’s on a website, on print materials, or even embroidered on a shirt.
What design elements are used in a logo?
Many design elements can be used in a logo, including typography, shapes, colors, and images. Unless your brand is extremely well known (such as say, the Coca-Cola logo, the McDonald's Golden Arches, or the Twitter logo), it's a good idea to include your business name in your logo. A good logo should be easy to understand and quickly communicate what your business is about.
How do you start designing a logo?
When designing a logo, you'll want to start by conceptualizing what the business is about and what you want the logo to represent. If you need inspiration, look at other company logos in similar industries.
After that, you can begin sketching out ideas and playing around with different design elements. Once you've finalized a design, it's important to test how well it will scale and if it's versatile enough to use in different contexts. If everything checks out, then it's time to use design software like Adobe Creative Cloud or to work with a logo designer to get your logo designed professionally!
What are the essential elements of a well-designed logo?
A logo should be simple to understand and quickly communicate what the business is about. It should also be memorable and look good in any size or context.
If you follow these logo design principles, then you're on the path to designing a logo that supports your brand strategy.