5 tips for successful business logo design

Cecily Kellogg

Designing a new logo can be a confusing process for business owners. There are many options to consider – colors, font selection, images, size, shape, etc. In this post, we explain the five most important items to make your business logo design successful.

Business logo design process

Simplicity

Keep it simple. That’s pretty solid advice for a lot of things, including business logo design. If you’re looking to capture the attention of potential customers and remind current ones of your reach, a busy or cluttered logo isn’t going to do your business any favors. Some of the most successful logos have been the simplest. We’re talking about clean, bold lines without a lot of elements to distract the eye or detract from the impact of the message. The “gold scallop” of Shell Oil and the red and white “bullseye” of Target retail stores are excellent examples of simple designs that are bold, identifiable, and evocative of the brand they represent.

Shell logo
Target logo

Originality

The painter Edouard Manet was unfortunate enough to be a contemporary of the more highly regarded Claude Monet, to the point that Manet was asked to show his work only to learn that the gallery had believed they were contracting with Monet. Ouch! The last thing you want from a company logo is to have it mistaken for that of a competitor. So when considering logo design, it’s important to keep it original. Look at what’s out there and find an opening for something new. When looking to avoid brand confusion, consider the color, shape, symbolism, and flow of your design. The color choices in the Taco Bell logo represent a good example of one way to make a recognizable object stand out as an original brand logo.

Taco Bell logo

Memorability

What do the “running dog” of Greyhound bus lines and the “bitten apple” of Apple computers have in common? They’re memorable. These days the average consumer is flooded with commercial messages. Everything from TV ads and roadside billboards to web banners and pop-up ads on game apps seems to be screaming at us with a sales message. Eventually, amid the high volume of commercial communication, all but the most memorable messages become noise that the brain learns to filter out. So how do you ensure that your logo gets through that mental filter? Choosing a design that’s bold enough to be both memorable and instantly recognizable is one key to success.

Greyhound logo
Apple logo

Clarity

When selecting a company logo, know your customer audience—both who they are and what they expect from you. Ask yourself what your company logo says about your business. Does it emphasize power, tradition, speed, flexibility, health, fun, or connectivity? Any of these attributes (and many others) can be the central message of an effective design. Ford Motor Company, for example, has maintained its famous “blue oval” for a century—reinforcing the Ford name as an originator in automotive technology. On the other hand, the famous Nike “swoosh” emphasizes speed and forward motion. Six Flags uses a playfully nostalgic mid-century design to remind its audience that childhood memories are made at amusement parks. In each case, the logo evokes a mood—a positive feeling that is linked to the company’s core message.

Ford logo
Nike logo
Six Flags logo

Brandability

A logo is your company’s public face, so it must be easily transferable to any medium that bears your brand—whether it’s a fleet of trucks, packaging, web ads, or social media, or all of these. An effective logo is easily recognizable at a glance, both in color and in black and white, and in any size. A good logo works as both a highway billboard and a Twitter avatar. If your logo relies on fine print, you have a problem. Some examples of company logos that demonstrate brandability in any form are the McDonald’s “golden arches” and the Target “bullseye.” Think about all the formats that you use to connect with customers, and be sure that the logo design you select works well with each.

McDonald's logo billboard

McDonald’s billboard | Photo credit Life of Lisa

McDonald's logo tweet

McDonald’s tweet

Target logo billboard

Target digital billboard in NYC | Photo credit Allan Peters

Target logo bus

Target Canada tour bus vehicle wrap | Photo credit Financial Post

Target logo train wrap

Target Chicago CTA train wrap | Photo credit Chicago-L.org Trains Gallery

In order to create a successful logo, be sure to keep it simple, make it original, memorable and clear, and ensure it’s recognizable across various marketing mediums.

Do you have any other examples of logos that meet these criteria? Let us know!

The author

Cecily Kellogg
Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg became an accidental designer when she worked at a short-handed non-profit and although she now prefers designing with words, the lessons she learned from doing graphic design make her work in content development more well-rounded. She writes about the intersection of family, technology, and social media for Babble Tech and runs her own web content business. She is also known for her raw tone and humor on various social media platforms including her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Cecily lives in the Philadelphia area, is happily married, is mom to a fierce and amazing daughter, and has occasionally been called a bad ass.

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