This blog post accompanies a video from our brand new YouTube channel. Our channel is dedicated to sharing useful tools, tips, tutorials and conversations around design, productivity and business. Whilst we may only just be getting started on YouTube, we’ve been designing logos, graphics and websites for our clients for over 4 years and can’t wait to share what we’ve picked up along the way.

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If you asked a random person on the street to think of a logo on the spot, there’s a good chance that most people would name the same 5 or 10 businesses that have achieved truly insane global recognition or awareness of their logos. James, our creative director, wanted to share some simple points that we can learn from great logos and help understand how we can use this guidance in our design work.

In the words of world renowned logo savant Sagi Haviv, a logo must be three things:

  1. Simple
  2. Distinct
  3. Appropriate.

A photograph of two hands using an iPad with a magic pencil

So Why Is Simplicity Important to Logo Design?

The world has changed. More so now than ever, our logos have to exist within a number of different contexts that extend far, far beyond the traditional applications that dominated even just a generation ago. Whilst these traditional applications are still very much in play, the introduction and rapid growth of the digital spaces that feature so strongly in our day-to-day lives mean our logos now have to contend with so many different modalities of display.

Simplicity allows us to present ourselves effectively in all such situations; let’s look at Nike as an example. Their “Swoosh” logo has to exist in all traditional formats, but also needs to work on app icons, smart watches, websites, hats, shoes, and even on products sold within virtual realities. With each application comes a different set of considerations like scale, texture or colour, yet the simplistic nature of the logo design ensures Nike can navigate these challenges whilst remaining recognisable to their global audience.

A man using an Apple Watch next to three apple watches in a promotional campaign

But How Is A Simple Logo Distinct?

Simply put, the purpose of a logo is to identify. It is the designer’s job to uncover a design that straddles the line between simple and distinct. Let’s look at the Starbucks logo as an example of how requirements for logos have changed and evolved over time. You can see that since its original concept, the means of identifying a business or brand have shifted dramatically to promote a simpler and more versatile form.

Simplicity does not mean forgoing originality – far from it, it means that as a designer your efforts should be geared toward producing the most simple version of an idea or concept that still possesses a distinctive and recognisable identity.

A poster showing the Starbucks logo evolution

Does A Logo Really Have To Match Tone?

The short answer is yes. Take a look at the example below – we have purposefully mismatched the tone of these logos to stress just how important it is that your designs truly reflect the ideals of the business/brand it seeks to represent. These designs both still work visually, but will hopefully strike you as completely inappropriate representations.

This is where you need to take responsibility in truly getting to know the business, its product or services, its audience and competitors – how can you find success in matching the tone of the business if you don’t know the qualities your design should be aiming to promote?

These three rules are at the forefront of our minds when we’re taking on logo projects and working through our ideation process, and we think they form the perfect working guide to produce strong, accomplished logo designs. 

Lego and Prada logos swapped in style

Want More?

If you’re looking to learn more about logos, catch up on last week’s blog post on the 7 Different Types of Logo Design where we break down the different types of logos and what they are suitable for.

We’ll be posting new videos on our YouTube channel every week, so keep an eye out and make sure to subscribe if you’re finding the content valuable!

We’re new to YouTube, so please let us know any comments or suggestions for videos you’d like us to make, any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated.

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