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5 Pillars of Logo Design

5 Pillars of Logo Design - A Checklist:

A logo is like a handshake, get it wrong and your brand doesn't stand a chance. 

Among the most nuanced of projects in graphic arts, logo design is a deceptively difficult undertaking. With the ability to communicate the character, quality, beliefs, and history of a company, the creation or revamp of a logo shouldn’t be taken lightly.  A hastily thought out design can cause long-lasting damage to the brand through poor widespread perception. While each industry has varying norms and expectations, the basic elements and principles for an enduring logo remain constant. Whether you’re thinking about improving your current logo or designing a new one altogether, our helpful checklist will make sure it’s a success.


The most fundamental and pervasive philosophy throughout the logo design process is the idea that “less is more.” While the other points on our checklist are important to keep in consideration, they are impossible to effectively carry out if the overall design is a convoluted mess. With an overly detailed or complex logo, you risk losing the audience’s attention or being seen as complicated or unprofessional. Instead of considering what other shapes, colors, or effects you can add, use a subtractive approach in order to eliminate unnecessary elements that distract from your brand message. This refined brand image ensures you’ll grab the attention of drivers speeding by your outdoor signage and will be recognized amongst your competitors on crowded store shelves.


The most difficult of the pillars of great logo design, crafting a new, unique, and distinctive logo for your brand can seem like a daunting challenge. Creating a unique logo while maintaining simplicity is a delicate balance and often mastering this without professional design help is problematic. Overcoming this hurdle however, can be a boon to your brand, as its novelty will help not only to stand out in retail space, but also trigger associations with your brand’s ideology and message when seen everywhere else. Borrowing inspiration from other successful logos is encouraged, but employing too many of the same elements can cause a “copycat” effect, which in the mind of a customer can be assumed that your brand doesn’t have ideas of its own. Remember, you don’t need to stand out amongst the best logos in the brand universe, but instead portray a difference from your direct industry competitors.


Often, the longer working on a logo design, the more time we get used to seeing it in a graphic design program on our screens and forget that these will be for use in the real world.  While a logo might look great in a digital format, separate from any other elements, it could look dreadful in practice. To truly be effective a logo should be able to work on a variety of different mediums, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. If your new logo can be functional whether it’s on a postage stamp, billboard, screen-printed on a t-shirt, in one color, or inverse printed then you’re on your way to having a great design.


Companies and brands that get this concept wrong provide us with laughs for years and for all the wrong reasons. Attempting to capitalize on a trending fad, they design a logo for “today,” without any foresight or concern for the future. The result of this type of design strategy is that your logo quickly becomes dated, which ultimately affects how customers, clients, and competitors view you. In order to achieve logo staying power, leave the trends to the fashion industry. Often, following the first pillar in this checklist, simplicity, will guide your logo development towards a quality of timelessness since it omits excessive elements to produce a clean design. Staying away from excessive effects like gradients, embossing, drop shadows, and design fads can help prevent your logo from becoming the butt of design jokes for years to come.


Knowing your industry expectations and being in sync with your brand’s values is crucial in developing a logo that is appropriate. The Mercedes-Benz logo wouldn’t quite evoke the same reverence if it were designed in the style of Fisher-Price. While an extreme comparison, the concept still holds true. One brand is known for engineering luxurious vehicles, the other is known for mass manufacturing plastic play cars for young children. While both logos are effective in their respective industries, we would all agree that swapping them would be disastrous for each company. Being unique is encouraged in order to be memorable, but going against the grain and the standards of your particular industry will send mixed messages to your customer and negatively impact your brand.

Bonus content:

Stuck in the early stages of logo development or redesign? Take a look at this video that shows how designer Aaron Draplin approaches idea generation and transforming a creative brief to reality. Watch as he applies these same principles, and keep them in mind as you embark on your next logo design. 

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