Man standing in front of Apple logo

6 Keys to Designing a Winning Logo

Your logo makes you instantly recognizable to the customers. It communicates the heart and soul of your brand in a compelling, visceral way. Here's how to get it right.

6 Keys to Designing a Winning Logo

Your logo makes you instantly recognizable to the customers. It communicates the heart and soul of your brand in a compelling, visceral way.

Legendary logo designer, Paul Rand, describes a logo as:

“a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like. The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything.”

Before we get into the specifics of designing a logo, let’s discuss the guiding principles that should act as your North Star.

Understand Your Brand: Your Unique Selling Point.

Brands with powerful logos understand who they are and the value the provide their customers. Before you begin brainstorming, you should know what you stand for.

Most brands know what they do, and how they do it, but few spend the time to narrow down on the Why.  To better understand your Why, we recommend reading Simon Sineck’s bestseller, “Start With Why”. In his book, he provides a framework for finding and articulating your organization’s purpose in an impactful way.
Clearly identifying and communicating your why is often the hardest part of the branding process, but when done correctly, it can deliver powerful results.

Understand Your Audience.

Your logo should not only represent what you stand for, but those your organization serves. If your target audience is young kids between the ages of 7-10 years old, then the logo design should uniquely appeal to them with qualities like playfulness and creative colour.

At Massive, we develop Buyer Personas to guide our branding and marketing initiatives. Buyer Personas are fictional characters that represent an organization’s target market. These Personas act as a litmus test to ensure the brands, products and campaigns we create will resonate with a brand’s key audiences.

Let’s explore the design principles that come together to form a powerful logo before we jump in to the design process.

Logo Design Principles

A lot goes into designing an impactful logo that stands the test of time. Below we explore some of the most iconic logos around and why they work.

1) Simplicity. “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity” – These eternal words of Henry David Thoreau are the cornerstones of any effective logo. Complicated logos with too many design elements can be distracting and confusing. Make things easy for your customers and design a logo that’s simple and concise. The logo you land on should consist only of the elements that are critical and nothing more. Nike is a great example of simplicity. A single stroke conveys the range of emotions they want to capture and communicates a thousand words about them as a business.

The Nike logo is simple yet memorable.

2) Make it Memorable. The first impression of an effective logo should be a lasting impression. Your logo has mere seconds to differentiate you from others in your space. Sharp colours, unique graphics, subliminal messages are just a few ways your logo can stand out.Most times, memorable logos are so memorable because they correlate with the name of the brand, or the value the brand provides its customers. The Twitter logo is a great example of a memorable logo. The blue flying bird relates to an action and talks about. Tweeting!

The Twitter logo is simple, yet expressive and impactful.

3) Timeless over Trendy. Few things are as classic and timeless as a well-stitched black tuxedo. Your aim with logo design should be the same. While it is great to have a trendy logo that is relevant in the present, things might get tricky when the tide turns. To ensure your logo stands the test of time, focus more on your brand and it’s message more than the trends.

Kellogg's logo is an example of a classy, timeless logo

4) Proportional and Balanced. The eye is naturally attracted to symmetry and balance. Often when you see an image, logo or website that you don’t like, lack of balance is likely part of the problem. The best logos are designed using principles of proportion and symmetry create a pleasing, balanced aesthetic quality that is classic and projects an inherent structure. Remember, that too many design elements can end up confusing your customer.

Apple's logo shows balance and proportion

5) Versatile. Versatility is one of the most important features to consider when designing a logo. Your logo is going to be displayed on various devices, surfaces and materials. It’s going to be resized, printed and put out on anything that is representative of the brand. Thus, it should be effective in any size and colour. If your design relies too much on colour then it won’t have the desired effect, once printed out in black and white. Your logo goes where the brand goes and versatility will make sure it can be used effectively on any occasion.

6) Brand Story. What is your story? Your logo is a tool for storytelling and building a strong connection with your customers. As you figure out what your brand stands for and the message you want to send out to the audience, you will gain a better idea of the fonts, colours and graphics to use. The goal is to have the logo tailor made for your audience but consistent with your brand.

Toys R Us' Logo captures their brand story.

Logo Design Process.

Now that you have a concrete understanding of what your brand stands for and the audiences it serves, let’s explore a process for designing a logo that’s instantly recognizable to your prospects and customers alike.

Sketching and Conceptualizing. Brainstorming concepts is a great group activity, and can be done with stakeholders with no design experience. At Massive, we’ll sometimes run Design Workshops, where multiple team members are tasked with sketching as many logo concepts as possible within 5 minutes. Afterwards, we discuss the reasoning behind our concepts and their individual strengths and weaknesses.“Sketching isn’t time-consuming and is a really good way to put ideas in your head right on paper.” –  Dainis Graveris

Important note: The sketching process should have no constraints. The purpose of this stage is to let your creativity guide you, without any restrictions, so put away your critical hat for this exercise.

Reflection. It is important to reflect on your designs and brainstorming sessions. Take a break and let your idea breathe; it allows you to solicit feedback and rejuvenate the creativity. Just taking a quick step back allows you to get a fresh perspective on your logo design in process.  When you’re ready to review, try to find commonalities between the concepts you like vs those you don’t. What are the red threads? What elements do you and your peers like and why?Again, this is not about being critical, but more about identifying strong ideas and refining them.

Revisions. By this time, hopefully you have 2-3 ideas to riff on. If not, it’s not uncommon to build on the strengths of multiple concepts, effectively frankensteining them together to create something new all together.Depending on the personality of those in the room, sometimes revisions can happen on the fly in a workshop-type atmosphere. That said, many designers prefer to refine and explore on their own, where they can test specific elements of a logo on their own before presenting.

Hopefully this post helps you on your branding journey. If you’re looking for help establishing your new brand – of even revisiting an old one, we’d love to talk.