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What makes a logo great?

February 2020Helen

What makes a great logo? We’re not talking about the branding as a whole – just the logo. If you’re anything like our designers, it’s a lot of head scratching, doodling and obsessively looking through colour charts for the perfect shade!

But seriously, the amount of hard work, discussion and research that goes into creative sessions in FIG’s design studio is incredible. When our designers get to work on creating a new logo, they don’t just design it to suit their personal preferences, or simply use a fashionable font. They will spend hours researching the sector, competitors, the audience, the history and longevity of the company or product, and the brand story.

They’ll experiment with colour palettes, icons and typography in order to create the right logo. And there’s a long process within our team, from initial mood boards, concepts and variations, worked up into ideas and workable logos, before finalised and presented to clients.

So what makes a logo great? We asked the team…

1. Make it simple

If a logo doesn’t succinctly demonstrate what it is, or requires the audience to figure out what it is, then it may need rethinking. A complex logo can be overly fussy and often won’t work in different sizes.

Emma, one of FIG’s senior designers is a big fan of the Penguin Books logo. She says, “The penguin hasn’t really changed that much over the years. The beautiful brand has evolved but is so timeless. It’s the simplicity of it that I love and plus, who doesn’t love a penguin?”

2. Make it memorable

We can all recall many global brands. Picture the red of the Coca-Cola logo, the purple of the Dairy Milk logo, or the golden arches of the McDonald’s logo. You can see them quite clearly, can’t you?

Yes, these are all massive brands, but they’ve spent alot of time and effort on their brand to make it easy to recall and for people to recognise it all over the world. Of course, it’s not just the logo that has helped these brands into global entities. There’s also a well-orchestrated marketing strategy behind each of these brands, encompassing most tools available in your marketing tool kit, from advertising, brand awareness, to digital marketing and PR. But the right logo has alot of value to these companies. They understand the power of a good logo in the marketplace and it will be protected and taken very seriously. So we can all learn a great deal and ensure our brand is fit for purpose.

Incorporating a subtle but clever nod to your business is always a great way to stay in peoples’ minds, as FIG’s Business Development Director, Martin explains, “I like logos with hidden symbols, such as Amazon’s ‘from A to Z’ or Fed Ex’s hidden arrow. I also like the Baskin Robbins logo as it includes the number 31 within it to reflect that they have 31 different flavours.”

3. Make it versatile

The beauty of a good logo is that it works across every medium. Whether it’s sitting in your website header, on your social media, packaging or advertising, your logo should be consistent and recognisable across every medium. If it’s not recogniseable as part of the same brand, then your logo clearly isn’t working for you.

A great way to test whether your logo has the flexibility required, see how it looks in black and white. Does it still work, or does it lose its effect? How does it look when it’s shrunk down in size? If it’s not easily identifiable then it’s back to the drawing board. Very often a logo is too complicated. If there are too many component parts it’s not going to work.

Once you have a logo that can be used in almost any situation, you have a solid foundation for a professional brand.

Probably one of the most recognisable logos in the world, the Nike swoosh really doesn’t need the words Nike for us to know who they are, which is very powerful. The logo is derived from goddess’ wing, ‘swoosh’, which symbolises the sound of speed, movement, power and motivation. Which makes it very fit for purpose, for the American athletic shoe and apparel designer and retailer. Said to be worth in the region of $26 billion!

 5. Make it timeless

A logo that can stand the test of time, and still look relevant throughout the years is very powerful. Especially if it can be updated and still be recognisable.

Take the Apple logo for instance. The first version is hugely different to what we know now. But looking at how the brand has evolved, it’s evident that once they found a winning formula, they stuck with it – and it seems to have worked out pretty well for them!

The Apple logo has become an instantly recognisable icon in 21st century life, and is viewed as a tried, trusted and credible brand.

Does your logo pass the test? Or maybe it’s time to move up the value chain and give it the attention it deserves.

Take a look at some of FIG’s branding projects.


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