Logos are critical. Don’t believe it? Let’s name all the successful companies we can think of without a distinctive Logo. No matter how long and hard you ponder the issue, there’s a good chance the end result will be zero.
Whether the latest Internet startup or a brick and mortar retail operation that makes the vast majority of sales to locals living within 10 miles, the logo is the face of the business. The trick for business owners is to create a look that sticks in peoples’ minds and makes them think of you. And when it comes to logos, simple is best. Here are five reasons why.
1. Clarity and Brevity
You don’t want someone to have to spend too much time puzzling over your logo, trying to decipher all the intricate design choices and fancy lettering. Think of McDonald’s, Apple, IBM, and Target. Better yet, take a look at the logos of these mega-successful companies in action. There’s probably no better argument to be made in favor of simplicity.
A simple logo leaves less room for error or misinterpretation of message to the public. You don’t want people cocking their head to one side, trying to solve the puzzle of your logo in their head. You should rather they spend that time allowing pathways in their brain to associate the image they are looking at with the awesome product or service you provide.
2. Recognizable and Explicable
Let’s continue with the idea that the secret to a logo lies in its ability to create associations in the human brain. There’s probably no better example of this on the planet than the golden arches in front of the restaurant we all (some of us anyway) know and love – McDonald’s.
An effective logo is one that is easy to describe to someone who might never have heard of the business before. With nearly 40,000 locations around the world, it’s hard to imagine a person completely unfamiliar with it, but just pretend. How would you describe it to a person ignorant to its existence? Maybe something like this. “You go two blocks, take a right at the light, and it’s on your left. Look for the big, yellow M out front.” There you have it. Easy to recognize and describe.
3. Prepare for the Future
The reality is that no logo stays the same forever. If your company has the good fortune to be successful over the decades, there’s a decent chance you’ll want to tweak the logo with minor adjustments at some point.
A good example is the evolution of the Adidas logo. The trefoil with three lines design, which came into being in 1967, grew to such legendary proportions that the rap group Run-DMC wrote a song about the sneakers. But even legends can get old and stale eventually. When the company relaunched its logo in 1997, it was able to retain the feel of the three-striped original but with an updated look. If the logo had been more complex, the task wouldn’t have been so smooth.
4. King Across All Media
We’re not talking about Howard Stern here. In today’s Digital Age, it’s even more critical that your logo be simple due to the variety of media outlets across which it will be published.
Just a few of the options: print, web, stamps, promotional items, signs, t-shirts. The list goes on. The more complex your logo, the greater the risk that it comes out looking like an indecipherable blob on one medium or another. The bottom line is it needs to look good whether it’s small or large, or printed in color or black and white.
5. Hard to Counterfeit
There are plenty of people out there who would love to profit off being able to confuse the buying public into thinking their business was actually one of the globe-spanning success stories. It’s hard to steal the brand when its logo is dead simple.
Simplicity is built-in to the successful brands we’ve been discussing. Simple colors and lines. There’s really no way to appropriate it or create something similar without getting into trademark violation territory. The more complex a design you have, the easier it is to make subtle changes that might fool the public and slip past a judge in the event you decide to take the case to court.
The Bottom Line
By now, it should be clear that simplicity in logo design is a good idea. Don’t worry that the end result will be too simple or not interesting enough. Simple can make you billions of dollars. Ask Bill Gates, whose Microsoft logo consists of nothing but four different-colored squares. Or Steve Jobs who went with an apple silhouette to represent his universe-changing computer company. When it comes time to start sketching logo idea, try to think like a kindergartener rather than a rocket engineer.