Logos: What Makes a logo successful

Written by Amanda Kern

What makes a logo successful?

nike logoA logo is a defining source of identity for most companies, therefore it must be powerful and memorable. A logo can enhance a company's image and give it an advantage over it's competition. For example, Nike's logo was originally created for just $35 and first used due to tight deadlines. Luckily the logo grew on Nike's owner because the logo is now instantly recognizable worldwide. The logo can be found on shoes, shirts, commercials, billboards, you name it - everyone knows the "swoosh".

enron logoLogos can also evoke an emotional response. At one point in time Enron was identified as a strong corporation. This strong, easily recognizable logo is now associated with corporate fraud.

So, what exactly makes a logo successful? It's important that we take a glimpse at some factors that can make a logo successful.




So what's the process of creating a logo?

The most crucial steps in creating a logo often come in the early stages. You should always start by gathering as much information as possible about the client. It's wise to find out as much as you can before you start creating a logo. Often times designers create a questionnaire for clients to complete to assist in clarifying the company's goals.

Once you've clarified the goals of the client it's wise to spend ample amount of time producing rough drafts. Some designers do brainstorming exercises or doodling to help spawn new ideas. Always start in black and white to help build contrast. Rough drafts generally should be taken a step further into a comprehensive sketch of the layout, usually this is a more refined sketch of the logo. And finally, the logo should be created using a vector based program such as illustrator.

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Do you have any tips to help create a great logo?

Logos are the heart of a company's identity, therefore they must be strong. Let's take a moment to understands the keys to creating a successful logo.

target logoSimplicity. A simple logo communicates a message clearly and provides the best solution for reproduction and readability. Often times a simple logo is easier to recognize than one that is complex.

requiem logoMemorable & engaging. Distinctive features are necessary to create a logothat is memorable.By creating a visual statement you can engage the audience. Memorable can mean using vivid colors, illustrative elements or an optical illusion. When viewing a logo you audience should instantly recognize it, interpret the message and distinguish you from others in the industry, more importantly, they should remember you.

Color. A logo must be successful in both black and white as well as color. It should be readable in any format. Most large companies have a graphics standard manual detailing how their logo can be used in the various formats. For example, Macromedia's style guide specifies how it's logos for it's various products may be used.

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Scalable. A logo should work at any size. You never know whether the client will need to use the logo on a pen or a billboard.

Cross-Media. A logo should work on a variety of media such as web sites and in print. It should be functional on a variety of substrates. Don't forget that a logo should have a faxable version.

What makes a logo timeless?

Strong logos not only brand the identity of a company but they last the test of time. Though logos might be altered over the course of time, they are easily recognizable, despite the modifications. Let's take a look at a few case studies.

Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs baseball team have quite a bit of history behind their logo, basically a simplistic "C" and a "cub" have evolved over the last century. Their logo has consistently used a similar color scheme.


UPS. With nearly a century behind the UPS logo, it continues to stand strong as one of the most recognizable logos. The logo was previously designed by well known designer, Paul Rand.


NBC. In the last fifty years NBC has become one of the most recognized and respected television networks to date. Their logo has also evolved over the years, with the use of a peacock and the "N".


Nike. The "swoosh" is certainly one of the most recognized icons in the world. Much like the previous logos, there is quite a bit of history behind the swoosh. It's hard to believe that the owner didn't quite like the swoosh in the beginning or that the designer was paid just $35 for the logo that is so well known.



Do you have any inspiration to help create a logo?

It's always inspiring to take time to research and look at other logos that have been designed. Here are a few that are worth sharing.

dog logo