The Elements of an Effective Logo
Designing or choosing a logo for your company is a big deal. Ideally, your logo will turn into a symbol of your brand—something consumers recognize immediately. Companies like Target, Starbucks, and Nike have logos that have turned into cultural icons. We all know them on sight.
Of course, coming up with the right logo isn’t easy. Even if you hire a professional designer, you still need to know what to look for. With that in mind, let’s break down the elements of an effective logo.
The colors you choose for your logo are important. Colors send messages, and if you choose colors that contradict your brand’s values and personality, you could alienate people who see it.
As you choose, keep in mind that colors have personalities. This could merit a whole article, but here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most commonly-used colors:
Red indicates passion, speed, anger, or urgency. It can sometimes signify “stop,” as it does on a stop sign.
Orange is creative and warm. It may indicate autumn.
Yellow is bright, warm, and optimistic. Many people associate this color with happiness.
Green is commonly associated with nature. It may also be a symbol for money or jealousy.
Blue is cool and competent. It’s associated with clarity, and is a popular choice for logos.
Purple is creative and a little unusual. It also is considered the color of royalty.
Gold is expensive and exclusive
Black is elegant and somber.
White is associated with purity and innocence.
Each one of these colors has shades, and the shades you use can signify different things. A light, robin’s-egg blue might indicate innocence, while navy blue is traditional and conservative.
The shapes you use in your logo send a message, too. While many variations on basic shapes are possible, there are three general shapes you should know about.
Circles are warm, inclusive, and traditional. They’re often used to symbolize families, and they’re an obvious choice to represent anything that has a cyclical nature. An oval is a variation on a circle, less traditional but still inclusive.
Squares and their cousin, rectangles, are solid, conservative, and reassuring. They may also be seen as somewhat unimaginative. A square logo can be softened with the addition of other shapes, or by using a round, italic font.
Triangles are daring, innovative, and sometimes seen as masculine symbols. It’s common for creative brands and companies to choose triangles for their logos.
When you consider shapes for your logo, think about the overall shape as well as internal shapes. For example, a round logo could be grounded by adding a square shape.
The final key element to consider is the fonts that spell out your company name or slogan. Fonts might not seem important, but they say a lot about you and your company.
Fonts break down into categories. A good logo designer will be able to talk to you about font choices, but here are some terms you should know:
A Serif font is traditional and conservative.
Sans-serif fonts are modern and clean.
Script fonts are feminine and flowing.
Display fonts are daring and bold.
Modern fonts are trendy and futuristic.
Decorative fonts are distinctive and fun.
Your first consideration when choosing a font is that it should be legible. Overusing script, display, or decorative fonts is a mistake that can cost you customers. Use them sparingly.
Ultimately, the colors, shapes, and fonts that make up your logo must work together to create a coherent image that represents your brand. Hiring a professional to design your logo gives you the best chance of ending up with the kind of logo that can turn into an icon.