What makes a good brand identity (logo)?

The brand identity or logo is a crucial part of your brand. It is the face of the brand, and it is often the first thing that a customer comes in contact with. To create a compelling brand identity, it needs to follow five rules. It must be

1) Simple

2) Distinct & Memorable

3) Timeless

4) Versatile

5) Appropriate

Let us elaborate.

A logo should stand out and be distinct. You should use negative space effectively, rarely use more than two fonts.

A logo should always be as simple as possible. When in doubt, subtract, less is always more. It should include only the necessary elements and nothing more. It should be easily recognized with a quick glance. It should look good flat, and ok with colors and effects; however, effects such as dimension and gradients should be used sparingly. Avoid distracting elements, and make it legible. And by all means, AVOID a tagline if possible. But not only does it need to be simple, but it also needs to be memorable.

These two go hand in hand. IF a logo causes you to pause and think, that is not good. The more one has to ponder or think about it, the more barriers there are to it being memorable. Ironically, the more simple and memorable it is, the more timeless it becomes.

This is because we tend to see trends whether its 3D effects, gradients, or other vector effects that while in certain applications may look cool, detract from the overall brand. Look at all the major brands, ok most of the major brands, the ones that stand out and you will see how they have evolved to be more simplified over time, thus becoming timeless. Two great examples are Apple and Starbucks. I am sure you can google the images and history easily enough.

A logo is meant to be a watermark things that let people know it’s your brand. It should always be present, but never in your face, to build up brand associate and recognition. Well in most cases. There are exceptions and applications where the logo becomes front and center. But be careful not to overdo it. We tend to block these things out over time. It always comes back to balance.

A good logo that is simple and memorable and timeless will easily work across mediums, different sizes, in color, and in black and white.

This often plays out in the fonts you chose. Fonts are so important for legibility, and flexibility. Remember, less is always more. Funky and cool fonts while interesting at first, tend to work against you over time.

The final part of the puzzle is appropriate. The logo should be an appropriate blend of fonts, icons, and colors for your target audience. For instance, I often see people use black and red together. While powerful on the eyes, this combination means death in many Asian cultures, so it has some very negative stigmas you don’t want a brand to have to overcome.

You can push the boundaries of fonts, but be careful not to overdo it. The right font and balance will make all the difference between someone respecting and trusting the brand vs just seeing you as a commodity. After all, that’s why we want to establish and differentiate brands. If you are a brand, you name your price, vs. a commodity that goes to the whims of the market. Do you want to be an Apple or a Dell?

Another thing worth pointing out that goes to simplicity, a logo does not need to show what a business sells or offers as a product. I.e., computer service companies don’t need to show a computer, and car logos don’t need to show a car. Apple isn’t a computer, and Harley Davidson’s logo isn’t a motorcycle. Further evidence of this, take the top 50 brands in the world – 94% of the logos do not describe what the company does.

We won’t go into it here, but the psychology and power of colors are often overlooked. Just realize in this day and age pretty much every color has been used. So your logo will have similar colors to something. So focus more on the power and meaning of the colors along with balance more than whether someone else has the same colors.

Let us know if you have any questions, and if you need any help in creating the right logo for your brand.

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