Creative

What Makes a Great Logo & When to Update Yours

By Craig Ostrom, VP & Executive Creative Director

January 24, 2017

A great logo design is more than something that just looks good – it needs to communicate a brand message.

To the consumer, a logo is an instant reminder of a company or a product. To the client, it’s the face of their company and it should resonate strongly with their target audience. It’s human nature to judge a book by its cover, so it’s critical that the first impression of your brand is a positive one.

So, what do great logos have in common?

A great logo contains three important attributes: 

1. It’s Memorable.

Memorable logos often feature something unexpected or unique that makes them stick in your head. On the flip side, many logos become memorable as a result of marketing and constant exposure, not so much the design. We’re convinced that a logo is timeless because we attach emotion and memories to it, or we attach those feelings to the experience—good or bad—of the product or service. So, it needs to be memorable in a good way. Which leads us to the next attribute.

2. It’s Appropriate.

How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. What are you selling? How are you selling? Who is your customer? Does it look current or timeless? A logo is the basis for all future marketing efforts. Graphic style decisions like fonts, colors, tone, etc. need to be made in relation to the style of your brand, making sure it aligns with your overall brand message.

3. It’s Simple.

Above all, logos should be simple. A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and versatility. It should be able to work across all mediums and applications from digital to print. The logo should work as well on a mobile device at 100 pixels as it does on a 100ft. outdoor board. Make sure it’s created in a vector format (Illustrator CC) to allow for infinite scalability and that it works just as well in black & white as it does in color.

Here is a sampling of logos that contain the three attributes discussed above.

Keeping your brand fresh and relevant requires change.

Comparing past logo iterations with the most current can give us a clear picture of how companies and design trends have evolved over time. It gives us a look in to what was popular during a particular period, and it can reveal trends in branding and changes in products and services. Take Rayovac for example (below photo). The similarities between the earliest version of the logo and the most current one is striking. In every case, the designer took full advantage of the symmetrical nature of the name, using a central “O” flanked by 3 characters on either side. But the treatment of the font and design is reflective of the time period it was created. And the original “Mr. Ray-o-Lite” is still echoed in the logo today.

Here is a small sampling of the many refinements of the Rayovac logo through the decades.

The original Church Mutual Insurance Company logo dates back to 1898. As you can see, the complexity of these early logos makes them very difficult to decipher, and nearly impossible to recognize on today’s tiny mobile device screens. The early versions may have been memorable, but only because of how hard they were to read. The current iteration of the Church Mutual Insurance Company logo retains the visual of the church spire that is synonomous with their brand, but has been updated in shape and color to a more graphic rather than literal representation, making it bolder and more eye-catching.

The most current facelift draws on the church spire that was a common thread between the earlier examples, but it’s turned into a graphic element. Simple, memorable and appropriate.

The newest logo is simple, memorable, and appropriate: everything a logo should be.

Is it time for you to update your brands logo design? Start by putting your logo in the hands of a design team who will transform it into something that reflects your brand and speaks to your target audience.

Send us an email at info@stephanbrady.com and we’ll help find a design that retains the legacy of your brand, while bringing it into the modern, digital era.


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