Three pieces to the logo design puzzle
What makes a great company logo? Here’s a closer look at the three key components of logo design
Designing a logo can be complicated by a multitude of ideas and design options; however, there are three main pieces to the logo design puzzle:
1. Icon 2. Font 3. Colour
The icon gives the logo its visual meaning, and has a responsibility to represent the brand. Icons can either do this through abstract shapes such as the Nike swooshing tick, or representational images such as Apple's apple.
Both of these icons are memorable and unique – two essential factors for achieving a great logo and brand. Nike has such a powerful icon, in fact, that once the brand was well established the company name was removed from its logo.
An icon should also be suitable for scaling across different marketing materials, as well as being timeless and naturally likeable.
Even though icons can be the focal visual feature of a brand, many of the world's most famous brands are solely wordmark or lettermark logos, such as Google and Coca-Cola. Great logos rely on simplicity, so icons and text can be used either in symbiosis or alone.
The role of the font is to reflect the message and values of the company. It also provides an opportunity for the brand to express its character and style. Often choosing the perfect font is more difficult than it seems. Whether subconsciously or not, people associate font styles with previous fonts and contexts they have been exposed to at different times and places in life. So knowledge of font histories from a professional designer can be useful in logo design in order to accurately portray a brand without giving the wrong impression.
A strong font should also be legible and scalable. A legible font will be distinct, easy and quick to read as well as being suitable for different marketing materials. The scalability of the font is also important for this reason.
Lastly, the logo's colour palette needs to be carefully considered alongside the icon and font in order to represent the right brand story. Colour should be the last of the three pieces of the puzzle to work on: a great logo should already look good in black and white.
Here is a list of factors to remember when choosing a colour palette:
… The psychological meaning of the palette: different colours present various psychological meanings, so will communicate the brand message accordingly. … The right balance between too many colours, which may complicate the logo and be expensive to print, and too little, which may not provide enough depth and contrast. Most brands focus on one to three colours to represent the company, such as McDonalds (red and yellow), in order to keep the brand logo simple and memorable. A wider range of colours can be incorporated later through different marketing materials. … The contrast between light and dark elements of the logo – important to enhance and support the icon and font. … The colour palette must be visually pleasing to appeal to your audience and attract the eye.
When the colours are successfully matched to the icon, the logo name may not be needed anymore (think Shell's red and yellow clam shell). People will be able to recognise your brand without having to read its name.
This article was written by Small Business Logos, a logo design service for start-ups and small businesses