Logos: Make ’em Memorable – The Brand Will Do the Rest

Over the years, I've had many clients want everything, including the kitchen sink, in their brand's logo design. Here's the thing — that doesn't really work.

“We Want X, Y, and Z”

That’s great, but you’re probably only going to need X, and maybe Y. The sheer importance of a scalable logo is more important now than ever. People aren’t looking for ads on the sides of buildings anymore. They’re looking on their phones—through web and social media.

A smartphone is always in our pockets. We swipe through an onslaught of advertising and design, all constrained within a 4″ – 6″ area. When clients want banners, scrolls, filigree and taglines shoved into one form that gets scaled down smaller than a dime, these little details get lost, and type becomes illegible.

When the logo is successful at a smaller size, it better translates outside of the digital world, as well.  Think of print applications such as business cards, brochures, packaging, screen printing, etc. The logo has to print well to look its best. Too many details can create a blurred and sad result.

A logo that can’t be scaled is subject to be refreshed in a short amount of time (resulting in more money, wasted time and less brand recognition). Strip away the extra fluff that makes the mark “original” and get it down to a scalable, and successful form at smaller applications. “Don’t try to be original. Just try to be good.” – Paul Rand

“We Need It to Tell a Story”

As designers, we’ve been told that so much of the design process is “telling a story”. True, but we only need to tell one really good one to justify our decisions. A compelling story can’t be retold if nobody can remember it.

More story means more shapes, more type, and an overall larger design with too much detail. So, when picking your story, keep it simple. Try to figure out your values, ethics, and what your brand is all about in under three sentences—heck, maybe three words. The shorter the story, the sweeter the logo. Minimal forms are not only scalable, but they’re memorable. Consider Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. They are the most recognizable brands in the world. Yet, nobody could at any of those marks, absent the brand around them, and have any clue what specific products they offer. They evoke feelings—not words.

When delivering your story and concept, it has to make sense and be relevant. If people have to think about something for too long, it’s not successful, and it’s back to the drawing board. Don’t make people think. People don’t like thinking.

The Logo is a Partner

Of course, the logo is an invaluable asset to any brand, but the brand and their service have to do the heavy lifting. Without a successful brand and service, the logo is nothing but a hieroglyph that serves no purpose. Nike’s swoosh would be nothing without their revolutionary shoe design.

The brand and the logo are partners. Without each other, they will fail. The service has to pull its weight, as well as the branding that goes along with it. Great service will make a great brand, and great branding will allow people to discover that service. A successful logo relies on both the service and surrounding brand pulling their weight. It’s a partnership.

Things to remember

  • Keep it simple
  • Short ‘n sweet story/concept
  • Scalability
  • Print/Web application
  • Don’t make people think
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