Brand Design
11 mins read

What makes a brand logo iconic?

Published on
October 6, 2020
Scott Adam Lancaster
Brand Development Expert
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How does a brand's logo become iconic?

Do you want to design an unforgettable brand logo for your business? If so, it's easier than you might think! All you need to do is follow a few basic steps.

A logo is the symbol of your brand. It should immediately signify to people what types of products or services your brand sells.

Most people don’t even realise how many logos they see in a given day. Whether we’re browsing the web or driving to work, we see logos all around us. But how many of these logos do you actually remember? Probably one or two at the most.

If you want potential customers to recognise your logo, it needs to stand out amongst the thousands of other logos people see every day. This goal is not easy to accomplish. That is why so many small business owners fail.

The Importance of a Logo

You need to design a logo that is iconic yet simple. It also needs to be an original logothat does not resemble any other brand logo. Otherwise, people might confuse your brand with another brand and vice versa.

The importance of a logo can get summed up with these three points:

1) A logo makes it easier for customers to remember and recognise your brand.

2) A logo separates your company from the competition and gives you a recognisable identity.

3) A logo quickly communicates what your company has to offer.

Some businesses pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for marketers and copywriters to help them establish a strong brand identity.

In most cases, the strength of the brand determines the power of the business. Your logo provides consumers with a first impression of your business. If they can relate to the brand and what it offers, it will make them more interested in doing business with you.

How to Create a Memorable Logo

This is where many business owners and entrepreneurs get confused. Even if you have a great business idea, it won’t matter if your logo is weak or unoriginal. Let’s examine some of the most successful logos so that you can get a better idea of how to create one yourself.

The Amazon logo is a good example. Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world. And yet, its logo is one of the simplest logos in the world. It has the “Amazon” name in all lowercase letters with an arrow underneath, starting at the “a” and looping over to the “z.”

Amazon started by selling books, and now it sells just about anything you can imagine. But that’s the point of the logo. It signifies that Amazon sells everything from “a” to “z,” get it? Also, the arrow has a small dimple on the right side which looks like a smile. The smile signifies they make customers happy with their products and services.

Do you now understand why the Amazon logo is so iconic and simplistic at the same time? If you can create an iconic and simplistic logo for your company, perhaps you could enjoy a plethora of success with it too.

Below are the four primary traits of a memorable brand logo:

1) It is simple, unique and easy for people to remember.

2) it is recognisable as soon as it is seen.

3) It is effective in all sizes.

4) It instantly communicates a story that relates to what the brand offers.

All memorable brand logos possess these traits. Now that you understand them, you can understand why other company logos have failed in the past.

Simple and Unique

Newbies often think that logos have to be very detailed and elaborate. But if you make your logo too complicated, it will confuse people. A simpler logo is easier to understand and remember. It will immediately convey a feeling to people when they see it.

The Starbucks logo portrays this concept well. Their old logo had a 16th-century mermaid image inside a circle with the words “Starbucks Coffee” surrounding it. In 2011, Starbucks rebranded itself with a new logo that was less detailed than the original logo. They got rid of the “Starbucks Coffee” text and just kept the siren image as the primary logo. The black, green and white colours changed to green and white only.

Everyone knows that Starbucks sells coffee by this point. Their logo doesn’t need to spell out that they’re a coffee company. The upgraded logo seems to be working because coffee is the number one coffee shop in the world.

Easy to Recognise

A simple logo is distinct from other logos and should tell a unique story. When a customer sees your logo somewhere, they should automatically recognise the logo and what it represents. If you were to have a complicated logo, customers would look away without remembering it. A simple logo is easier for customers to remember, especially if it invokes a good story.

The overall goal is memory. People only look at a logo for 1 or 2 seconds. The human brain has an easier time processing the imagery of a simple logo. No one will need more than 2 seconds to understand it.

Many famous brands learned this lesson the hard way. One good example is the Adidas shoe brand. In 1949, their logo had a detailed image of a cleated shoe with the name “Adolf Dassler” above it and the name “Adidas sportschuhe” below it. The logo had too much going on for anyone to remember it.

The 1990s were when companies first started to understand more about logo designs and their effects on the human mind. In 1997, Adidas rebranded their logo to have three bars and the name “Adidas” underneath it. The logo was much simpler and more iconic. They have kept this logo ever since then.

People have short attention spans. In our fast-moving world, people need to receive simple messaging quickly. It is the only way they will remember it. If you can get your customers to memorise a simple logo representing your brand, their future purchasing decisions might involve your company’s products or services.

Size Must Be Irrelevant

Your simple logo must be effective regardless of its size. People should recognise it anywhere, whether it is a small mobile app icon or on a large highway billboard.

Do you know how website designs are supposed to be responsive to appear correctly on mobile devices and laptops? Well, think of a good logo in terms of being responsive. It must adapt well to any platform or environment. You should be able to put the logo anywhere and have it reach people effectively.

Without a scalable logo, you’ll limit the number of places where you can promote it. As a result, you’ll limit the growth potential of the company.

Tell a Story

It is common for newbies to get confused by this concept. How can a logo tell a story? That is what most people think as they read this advice.

So many businesses fail because they haven’t figured out the answer to this question. It is certainly not easy to get your logo to tell a story. To successfully pull this off, you need to work with creative designers who understand business and marketing very well. For example, the FedEx logo tells a great story. It might seem like a plain logo at first glance. You see the name “FedEx” written in purple and orange colours. But do you see the white arrow symbol formed between the letters “E” and “x”? Some people don’t see it right away. But once they do see it, they never forget it.

What kind of feeling do you want to give your audience? Think about your brand’s values, mission, and overall purpose. Once you have a pure understanding of your brand, you can build a logo that revolves around these concepts.

The Top 4 Steps of the Logo Design Process

You have learned all the key traits of a memorable brand logo. It is vital to remember these traits because they will need to be implemented through the logo design process. If you forget to apply even one of these traits, it could lead to your brand’s eventual failure.

You don’t need to possess artistic skills. Most business owners never create their logo designs anyway. They hire a professional logo designer to do it for them. All you need to do is tell the designer what you want the logo to look like, and they will make it happen.

Here are the basic steps of the logo design process:

1) Locate a Talented Logo Designer

If you have skills as an illustrator or artist, perhaps you could design your own logo. Otherwise, you’ll need to locate a talented logo designer to do the work for you. The designer must understand the key traits of any good logo.

When you interview different designers about what makes a good logo, see if their answers mention the traits we laid out. It will help you distinguish between the good designers from the bad designers.

The next step is to determine which designer is the most talented and trustworthy. Here are some ways to do that:

• The designer will have a portfolio of their logo designs to show you. This will give you a sense of their artistic range and overall quality of work.

• The designer will explain their design process clearly.

• The designer will set brand guidelines to ensure your logo, fonts and colours work well together in harmony.

• The designer will give you a blueprint of the design process from beginning to end.

Once you find a designer who matches all these qualities, you will know they are good enough to hire for your logo project.

2) Explain Your Project to the Designer

Work closely with the designer to help them understand precisely how you want your logo to appear. This is critical because the logo will be the icon of your business. If you mess it up, you might not get a second chance to make it right again.

Sit down with the designer you chose and explain to them what you want your logo to achieve. An experienced designer will know which questions to ask you, so you don’t really need to guess here. Just give them complete answers with as many details as possible.

Here is everything you will need to go over with them:

• Let them know your expectations for the outcome of the logo.

• Explain the nature of your business and what it does for customers.

• Clearly explain the story that you want the logo to communicate to customers.

• Do not let the designer assume anything. They only know what you tell them to do. If you want to avoid dozens of revisions, try to be upfront with them about everything. It will ensure that you get the results you want.

• See if the designer has any questions that they’d like to ask you. Then answer their questions in detail.

3) Compare the Logo with the List of Traits

Your designer should be getting to work at this point. Ask them to produce a sketch of the logo they plan to create. The sketch will indicate whether they’re on the right track or not. Use the list of traits we discussed to determine this.

If the sketch looks good, ask them to continue with the full design. Now compare the completed logo with the list of traits. Does it capture everything you wanted? Is it simple and unique? Does it convey a story or feeling? Will people remember it after looking at it for a few seconds? Ask yourself these kinds of questions.

4) Simplify the Logo Further If Possible

Okay, so you have a simple logo design, and it looks good. But how simple is the design? Can it be simplified any further? It would help if you asked yourself this question too. Sometimes you might be so impressed with a design that you forget the real importance of simplicity.

Think about ways you can eliminate more detail from the logo. Maybe you could remove a colour or word from the logo. Remember that less is more when it comes to logo design.

However, don’t remove too much. Your logo still needs to possess all the other traits too. If you cannot simplify your logo any further, then leave it as-is. Now start promoting it and see how much your business takes off.

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