A great professional logo is a key ingredient of success in contemporary business. Our post-national and digital societies continue to undergo profound mutations with shaping impacts on our consumption habits. Business practices have accordingly changed to keep in tone with the new realities of the “global village” with its market inundation, fierce competition, rising digital culture and e-commerce. In such a context, the image and visual content loom large. As a result, marketing is increasingly graphic oriented. The logo in particular gets the lion’s share in contemporary business planning: it is the spearhead of the best informed branding and marketing strategies.
The logo is to business what form is to any substance. Your logo is one of your business’ or your brand’s key physical representatives. It is the outer shell and the main show box without which your business is simply invisible. However, form is but essence that rises to surface, and so your logo is also the soul of your enterprise. A great logo represents the spirit of a company – its ideas and ideals. Thus, a great logo aptly stands for a brand’s full identity. Put otherwise, your logo IS your business.
But what do I do to make a great logo? And where make a great logo? In this article, we’d like to share with you the characteristics of the best logo templates ever created. If you’re looking for some graphic design ideas to make your own perfect logo, to make yourself visible online, and get your share on the global market, you may find the tips in this article very helpful.
“There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for” says the great American graphic designer, Milton Glaser (Macnab 2015). As we have seen in the article on “Perfect Logo Design: Great Logos that Have Become Legends,” the best logos ever have 10 major aspects in common. Because they are crucial for anyone who wants to make a professional logo, we propose in this article to develop them into logo design recommendations. Here are, therefore, “the 10 commandments” you really need to follow in order to create a perfect piece of graphic design and get a logo worth a “WOW.”
Great logos draw on simple objects which are relevant to the business activity planned for. The ideal basic design of a perfect logo can be a mere alphabet letter or Cross, as in the case of Facebook, a star as in that of the Mercedes logo, or even a sheer “correct tick” symbol as in the example of the Nike swoosh.
What comes next is also simple: the chosen common objects are elaborated on graphically; in one word, they are highlighted. Skilled graphic designers develop such simple icons so that they acquire a strong identity, that is, they work on making the logos recognizable and unique.
For instance, the Facebook logo is only a Cross probably meant to symbolise American Protestantism. But the logo designers had an idea, also simple and great, which besides strengthening the logo’s recognisability triples its allusive potential. They decided to bend the Cross just enough to take the form of an “F” and so stand for the company’s initial letter and the connection of friends. The choice of colors did the rest. The white and turquoise of the world famous logo make it even more outstanding. The stunning Facebook logo is just and Cross and an F, yet no other letter “F” nor any other Crosse look like Facebook’s.
The final result is that, though simple, the Facebook logo is stunning with an elaborate significance. Besides, it’s exceptional: there’s no other such a logo as the one we see every day on our smartphone and laptop screens. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu has once said, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
To choose a common object as logo template already gives it great chances to be popular. But to multiply a logo’s potential of popularity the best graphic designers opt for icons that remind us of our sweet childhood memories. Thus, they make logos that recall Fairy Tales and other such stories that mattered for us in childhood and remained engraved in our minds.
This is a calculated practice. By referring us to our best childhood memories, great logo designs are actually making use of two key psychoanalytic principles: Sigmund Freud’s concept of the subconscious mind and Karl Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious. According to these two theories, what we value as adults is deeply rooted in our childhood memories.
The best example is the Walt Disney Company logo. There’s a lot to say about this prestigious logo, but what is noteworthy is it refers us to an iconic fairy tale, namely Cinderella. Disney and Disney Plus use precisely the Cinderella tale castle as a logo. The idea is far from innocent: that Castle is a great emblem of our childhood, and its effect on the audience is tremendous. Roman Rogoza is right when she writes, in “What Famous Castle Is Depicted on Disney Logo?,” “the magnificent logo with the castle has a profound effect on the audience, reviving their childhood dreams and making them believe in miracles”(Rogoza 2020).
For another outstanding example, consider the Apple logo. Among its many allusions, the iconic bitten apple placed on your iPhones and Apple computers makes allusion to Snow White, another fairy tale which rocked the childhoods of so many of us. The apple logo designers know very well that the story is simply fossilize in our minds and that it goes on rocking our lives as adults and potential consumers.
Great logo design makers are aware that the stories of our childhood made us as adults. They realize that they matter decisively for much of what we like or dislike (buying).
How and what we choose to consume is largely determined by what we used to like or dislike when we were children. The best logos are made by people who know it. They’re aware that “the tragedy of man is that he has been a child” as Nietzsche has said.
For the same purpose, to make a great logo requires use of popular imagery. For one thing, the best logo design exploits the attractive power of popular images of our childhood and adolescence. Logo creators like to use fantastic characters and icons such as sirens, unicorns, dragons and castles. For another thing, to get a perfect logo, the best graphic artists use other kinds of popular imagery like roses, stars and the animals we value most (thinks of dolphins).
Many examples can illustrate this practice in logo design, but the best cases in point are perhaps the Starbucks and Mercedes logos. The first draws on a mermaid and the second on a three pointed star. Both the siren and the star are popular images. Additionally, they’re registered in the world’s collective consciousness as good and fairy.
The best logo ideas are profound in meaning. For example, they make allusion to mythology. The mermaid on the Starbucks logo, for instance, belongs to Greek and Norse mythologies, and the apple pictogram of the logo of the Apple Company refers to Christian cosmogony.
Besides, great logos make allusions to classic artworks, great literature, ground-breaking discoveries, major inventions, and momentous historical events. Thus, Apple’s bitten apple pays tribute to Alan Turing, the father of computer science (Read more about this here). Turing is said to have committed suicide by taking a bite from an apple he infused with Cyanide. By the same token, the same logo commemorates the decisive role Turing has played in the victory of the Allies’ in World War II. Turing is the scientist who neutralised the notorious Nazi Enigma Machine by inventing the Enigma Code Breaker Machine.
Therefore, while it looks unpretentious, the Apple logo tells a long, complex and vital story. It tells the whole history of the decisive battle of communication during World War Two. And that’s only a tiny bit of that unassuming little apple’s significance!
Despite their simple looks, great logos are actually sophisticated. They are genuine ‘bombs of meaning,’ as it were.
Great logos are objects of high symbolic charge. They are visual depictions of elaborate ideas and ideals, ones that cannot be fully told in words because they are too profound and complex. It would be too long and inefficient to tell what a good logo means using vocabulary.
Take one of the best known symbols, the Yin Yang. You may well see what such a symbol means, but if you ever indulge in describing it in words you’re very likely to end up perorating endlessly on the meaning of life as a whole.
Symbols are concise representations of profound, even ineffable, ideas. The eminent design communicator and logo designer, Maggie Macnab, summarizes well the power of symbols, in an article on Logo Design Theory entitled “Symbols, Metaphors and the Power of Intuition.” For Macnab, “describing a symbol with words is like trying to capture a star in a jar” (Macnab 2015). A picture is worth a thousand words, but a symbol is worth a million.
All the great logos we’ve considered so far see big. Most refer us to fundamental questions to do with the origin and point of existence. They often allude to either of both of Divine Creation and human creative genius.
Many great logos refer us to Divine figures and deities depicted in holy literature and in mythology. In the case of Mercedes Benz, one of the meanings of the word “Mercedes” is “Our Lady of the Mercies” which is “one of the epithets given to the Virgin Mary - Santa Maria de las Mercedes”(nameberry.com). The three pointed star evokes the Virgin Mary, or the Heavenly Lady of mercy residing in the Skies.
Moreover, the same logo seems more broadly to make allusion to the Holy Trinity of the Christian faith. The logo’s ultimate connotation is it seems to celebrate human technical progress as a promise of perpetuation of Divine Creation and Will on earth. Indeed Mercedes Benz’s three pointed star looks like a discrete representation of the Cross when one observes it closely.
The same holds true for the Apple and Nike logos with their respective allusions to the Christian myth of Creation and the Greek goddess of Victory. It’s also the case of the Dove logo of the company of the same name. A Dove is a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology.
Great logo design always intimates that “Man is a god in ruins” to put it in the great American poet, Ralf Waldo Emerson’s words. They seem always to suggest that the point of Man’s existence is to reconquer a lost godly nature and status.
None of the great logos we’ve seen stand for just one thing. They all point to many different things at the same time.
We’ve already seen this through the case of Facebook’s logo, but there are other examples. The Nike logo, for instance, has three possible meanings. First, it has the significance of a tick that verifies something as correct. Second, it is a symbolic ‘prosthesis’ for Nike, the originally one-winged goddess of Victory. Finally, it represents the movement of high profile athletes.
The same polysemy characterises the Starbucks and Apple logos. In the way of Sphinxes and the Chimeras the best logos suggest different meanings, while their ultimate significances remain unknown.
If you want to make a great logo, you’ll need to make it suggest universal ideas and embody timeless values. A great logo should be valid anywhere, anytime. The ideal logo design contains knowledge that holds true for all humans, at all times. The Ying Yang, the pyramids and Lady Liberty can make perfect logo templates because they are internalised by all humans.
On the other hand, logo designers should be careful with using motifs like Snakes and Crosses because they are “layered with cultural meaning.” As Macnab points out, “it is important to research the interpretation of your chosen symbol to ensure it supports the meaning you want to convey within the culture(s) in which it will be used”(Macnab 2015).
To get a universal logo, you need to use symbols because they are “the archetypes of human communication” as the same design specialist recommends. As she explains, symbols are “universally recognized” and have “inherent timelessness, remaining relatively unaffected as styles change.” For Macnab, symbols are “optimal choices for long-term branding, and they help a logo retain its relevance (…) over the long haul” (Macnab 2015).
Finally, to Macnab still, “secondary design considerations” such as “color combinations, stylistic textures or typographical applications” might need updating over time, but if the logo is made universal through a great symbol, “secondary revisions can be made to the logo without negatively affecting the brand. Universalism helps a business logo to “hold up as styles and trends change” (Macnab 2015).
The best business logo is one that has a strong identity. It’s unique; it’s memorable. According to Jacob Cass in “Vital Tips For Effective Logo Design,” “A good logo is distinctive”(Cass 2009). What Cass further add is also helpful to understand this indeed vital aspect of outstanding logo design.
“The logo,” Cass writes, “is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand or economic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are strikingly different from other logos in the same market niche. Logos are used to identify” (Cass 2009).
That’s also what one of the world’s greatest designers, Paul Rand thinks. As he put it: “a logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies”(Cass 2009)
Last but not least, no matter how great, you logo is worth what your business is worth. As a matter of fact, no logo, however perfect, can represent mediocre business successfully. You can get the best possible logo design for your business but still you cannot hope to have it work if what you sell is mediocre. No matter how attractive and perfectly designed, your logo will be entirely useless if the quality of your business is inferior.
According to Rand, once again, “A logo does not sell (…), it identifies. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like” (Cass 2009)
Always remember: your logo is your business, and your business is your logo.
We hope you have by now gained a solid understanding of what makes a logo design great. If you still need advice, or are wondering where and how to have your logo made, you don’t have to look anywhere else. You already are at the right place.
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Article published by Danny Le Juste
Danny is an academic and web-content writer for Izeelogo. He holds a Ph.D. in Anglophone literature which he completed at the University of Sheffield (UK). He’s interested in all modes of representation of reality, including literature, theatre, painting, sculpture, photography, media and graphic design.