Is My Logo Good? Brand Identity Principles

good logo principles

So what makes a logo good? A good and effective logo should follow 5 basic brand identity principles, be functional, represent the company, and be unique.

The process of designing a logo can very well define its outcome, however, unless you can defend the principles it could be very arbitrary. In this article I will try to break down the functionality of a logo so that it is not so variable. If you critique your logo design with these principles there should be little space to fail with your logo designs.

A good logo should be:

  1. Appropriate
  2. Simple (describable)
  3. Memorable (unique)
  4. Functional (scalable and effective without color)
  5. Timeless

1. Appropriate

Childrens place logo

A good effective logo should represent the business it identities. Logo symbols do not have to directly relate to the products. The Apple logo below would convince customers that they are buying fruit which is not true since Apple sells computers.

“The atmosphere a logo generates can often be enough.”

The Toys R Us logo would not be appropriate for a company that specializes in banking. The colors and typography aims for children who want to have fun. You can compare it to The Childrens Place logo which is targeted to sell quality childrens clothing. The goal of the logo is to sell clothes to the children’s parents.

2. Simple

apple logo

“It’s an apple with a bite taken out…yet it is in fact unique.”

The principle of a logo’s simplicity is the ability to describe it in words. The apple logo is a superb logo example because of its simplicity.

3. Memorable

nike logo example

“A logo’s simplicity and memorability go hand in hand.”

If you can describe a logo then you can remember it. This is why simplicity is imperative. Many people think that a logo should directly relate to the business it represents. The fact is that relating the logo to the business could make it more memorable but it really is not necessary for success. The key behind a logo is the experience. Many companies don’t realize that a logo is only as good as your product. It’s your job to design a logo that a customer will remember when they walk out of the door.

“Quality service will decide whether the logo will be used to relate the company to a positive or negative experience.  If the logo is simple and unique then it will be easy to remember that experience.”

4. Functional

citibank logo

“No amount of color will save a logo that is poorly designed.”

If a logo is not functional then it will severely handicap a brand. I always leave color until the very end of the design process. A logo that does not work well in black and white will not be useful in color. Keep in mind embroidering.

Making sure a logo is scalable is very important and cannot be stressed enough. A good logo should look good down to an inch or even smaller. A good logo should be able to function in any way that it is printed. Many companies will order pens, pads, apparel, and whatever else to get their logo into customers hands…not to mention the standard stationary design including business cards, letterheads, and envelopes.

5. Timeless

coca cola logo

Will your logo stand up for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years?

A timeless logo design may be the hardest to hard achieve out of all of the guidelines.  Companies will often make adjustments or even revamp a logo design over time. After reading an article by fellow design blogger Jacob Cass at JustCreativeDesign.com he brought to my attention just how timeless the Coca-Cola logo really is. There main competitor Pepsi has constantly revitalized their logo to fit the current time period while the Coca-Cola logo has went almost untouched.

Coca cola logo evolutionThe chart is a sample from an article at Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi

If you have any input or different thoughts about this subject please free to start discussion. Thanks!

Much of the information from this post can be attributed to the process of designers such as Jacob Cass, David Airey, and other designers who share information openly. Thanks.

Looking to hire a logo designer? I’m available for hire.

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Blake McCreary, independent designer

An Indianapolis graphic designer specializing in a broad range of design skills, mainly logo/brand identity design. I work with clients around the globe.
Interested in hiring me for your next project? Let's talk!

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11 Responses

  1. AntiMedia1 says:

    This is great information. I thought about my logos as I read this article, and I think I am on point.

  2. AntiMedia1 says:

    This is great information. I thought about my logos as I read this article, and I think I am on point.

  3. avakarelle says:

    hi i have a design i would like for to to tell me it is meets any of your 5 principles.
    whats your email addy?

  4. avakarelle says:

    hi i have a design i would like for to to tell me it is meets any of your 5 principles.
    whats your email addy?

  5. Hi,

    You can find my email on the contact page. I dont type it out on the website because spammers might scrape it up. You can send it and I'd be glad to critique your design. Thanks!

  6. Hi,

    You can find my email on the contact page. I dont type it out on the website because spammers might scrape it up. You can send it and I'd be glad to critique your design. Thanks!

  7. PING YANG says:

    It was a good article to read, and it is very helpful for understanding a good logo, too. What would you think of a good logo for embroidering business? Thank you very much.

  8. Hello, In my opinion that your site is quite fascinating. Thanks for expressing all of these informations. I found it msn and i think I am going to come back shortly. All the best !!

  9. bob says:

    why is coke and pepsi the same

    • Blake McCreary says:

      Well it looks like Pepsi started out doing what many companies do. Imitation

  10. Great overview of basic logo design concepts…