Iconic brands have instantly recognizable logos – you would spot the Nike swoosh, Chanel Cs, or Starbucks mermaid from a mile away. Yes, it takes some time to generate brand recognition, but a good way to develop a stellar logo is to use the principles of the SMART acronym – simple, memorable, appropriate, resizable, and timeless. Here's how.
What do the logos for Motorola, McDonald's, and Twitter have in common? They're all simple. Logos today trend towards clean and contemporary instead of detailed, and for good reason – simple logos have been shown to be more identifiable.
Another benefit is that they can be used on small spaces without anyone needing a magnifying glass to spot the details or read the copy.
When you think of Apple, Pepsi, or FedEx it's likely that you can instantly envision the logo. That's the goal! In the beginning, it's helpful to primarily use a wordmark, combination mark, or emblem because people will start to remember your brand name. A combination mark in particular will help people associate your symbol with your company name, so you can use a standalone symbol on certain products or marketing materials.
But make sure your logo is unique. Rather than taking too much inspiration from other brands – especially your competitors – try new color combinations, a custom font, or using symbols that haven't been used before. Snapchat's ghost, Tinder's flame, and Bumble's hive are distinctive to them. How many brands have you seen that use a ghost, flame, or hive on everything?
Your logo should be appropriate for your target demographic. For example Nickelodeon and Disney Channel have fun, colorful logos with casual fonts because their audiences are kids.
Alternatively, Tiffany & Co. and Prada have formal fonts and calm colors that make sense for luxury brands with a more sophisticated clientele. When you're customizing your logo to your ideal customer, consider color and font psychology – your choices will impact the emotions that people associate with your company. If you have a symbol logo, it should make sense and help tell your brand's story or tie into the name.
For example, Target's logo is a target, Saucony's is the shape of the Saucony Creek, which is near where they were founded, and the Domino's Pizza dots represent the chain's first three locations.
You'll use a logo on everything from your website and social media profiles to product packaging and merchandise, so you need one that scales well. Of course, you can also have different logos that you choose from depending on the need.
A wordmark or combination mark is better for a larger area, while a symbol, emblem, or lettermark is better for a smaller space – but whatever you select has to be recognizable at any size. If your logo is online, it should be uploaded as a vector file so that it can be scaled and quickly resized without becoming pixelated.
Will your logo still work 15 years from now? Sure, you might have to make some small tweaks to make it feel more modern, but ideally you won't have to make substantial changes that cause you to lose brand recognition. Even famous logos – like Canon, Firefox, Apple, and IBM – have changed to become more current. But even if there was a big change early on, the remaining changes have been minimal from year-to-year, so people don't have to get used to something totally new.
Now that you know the essential rules of logo design, you're ready to work with a designer to create or update a logo for your business. Just remember to keep it simple, memorable, appropriate, resizable, and timeless.
Know what would be really SMART? Messaging Rob Janoff on #FiverrPro for the chance to win a custom logo design from the creator of the Apple logo!