What Makes An Effective Logo Mark?

Why is it that some logos or brand marks really stand out in a crowd and get noticed while others don’t? Why do some seem to be long lasting and continually build equity and awareness and others don’t? These are questions that many have asked and there are some key ideas and principles, which enable some brands to distinguish them from others and be more effective. Among those ideas and principles are the following: an effective logo is unique, meaningful, differentiated, flexible, consistent and sustainable.

Unique – Every organization is unique with its own set of ideas, attitudes, characteristics and values. It is this DNA that defines the organization and distinguishes it from its competitors. The logo or brand mark should reflect this unique essence and align with the organization’s distinct personality to help it stand out in a crowd.

Meaningful – Does the logo tell a story? Is it somehow connected to the mission, strategy, values or brand promise or is it just a cool design? It’s the story behind the logo that gives it meaning and significance. For example, the familiar Mercedes three-pointed star originally represented vehicles on land, at sea and in the air. However, as the brand has evolved, the symbol has now become associated with luxury, high performance and excellence.

Memorable – A great logo creates a strong awareness and recognition in the minds of consumers. It’s this identity or mark that people connect to the brand. The logo is not the brand but it is the entry point to the brand. The brand is the overall experience and is created through every form of communication.

In fact some logos like Shell, Apple and Nike are so memorable and recognizable that the companies have even dropped the names and we know and recognize them by the symbol only.

Differentiated – To be effective and avoid confusion in the minds of consumers, the logo must stand well on its own and be distinct in shape and color especially among competitors.

Flexible – The logo should be easy to reproduce consistently and work well at a variety of sizes and across all media. It should work well in black and white as well as color.

Consistent – The logo should always be used consistently. That means the positioning; proportions, arrangement and colors should never change. Think of Coca Cola for example. You never see the Coca Cola script in a color other than red and the script is always exactly the same. Many times I see a variety of logos being used within the same organization. Any time a variation of the logo is created unintentionally, it diminishes its overall effectiveness and creates confusion both internally and externally.  Regardless of whether you are using skywritinga vehicle wrap or a koozie can cooler to promote your business, the logo should be the same.

Sustainable – Styles and trends will always come and go, but an effective logo will be enduring. Some logos have remained virtually unchanged for decades. Others have gone through periodic updating and modification to give them a fresh look but still remain firmly connected to their original identity and meaning.

*Stay tuned for a post showcasing Top 10 Church Logos.

What do you believe makes an effective logo?

Content created by James Bethany and adapted from the book of Designing Branding Identity.