15 Characteristics of a Great Logo

15 Characteristics of a Great Logo

15 Characteristics of a Great Logo

April 25, 2017 Zack Barton No Comments Business Design

Updated 5/17/19

15 Tried and True Characteristics of Great Logo Design

Your logo design is the silent ambassador of your brand, and often creates people’s first impression of your company. Do you know what that impression is? In this new article, Zack Barton reveals 15 best practices for approaching logo design, and logo design updates.


Your logo design is the silent ambassador of your brand, and often creates people’s first impression of your company. So do you know what that impression is? Does your logo clearly and powerfully signify what your company does? Will it cause people to remember you, even if they haven’t heard your elevator pitch?

A lot of people ask us for our take on different logo design concepts. In our opinion, a logo is very good if it meets as many of the following criteria as possible.

A Great Logo…

1) Is aesthetically pleasing.

This one can be hard to quantify, but easy to gauge with a simple survey among friends and coworkers. Do you like looking at your logo? How does it make you feel? Do your peers like it? Is it as good or better than your competition?

2) Is conceptually focused and clear.

Whether your logo majors on your brand name or brand symbol, it should help to communicate the “big idea” you want to broadcast about your company. Do you know if that idea is coming through?

3) Is clever and unique.

A unique logo shows that you’re a unique company. You may be one of a hundred bakeries selling cakes in your city, but nobody makes or sells cakes quite like you. How does your logo reflect what makes you stand out from your competitors?

4) Has an “aha” moment.

Logos with surprise imagery or hidden meanings are more memorable. For example, FedEx has a hidden arrow in the “Ex,” symbolizing their fast, direct delivery service. Amazon also has an arrow pointing from “A to Z” in order to symbolize that they sell literally everything. What can people discover in your logo?

5) Scales in size well.

This one is pretty simple. Does your logo work on all mediums, from pens to billboards?

6) Works in one color (and no color).

Full-color printing isn’t always available. Is your logo recognizable in black and white—for example, in a newspaper ad, return-shipping label, or even a clothing label?

7) Stands the test of time.

If your logo is brand new, we encourage you to live with it for a month or two to make sure that it doesn’t start to feel boring or weak. Do you think it will still look good and work well a month or so from now? What about six months?

8) Can easily fit into a circle or square for web use.

This is another simple one. Does your logo look good on various web and mobile applications?

9) Can be animated.

Motion graphics are a strong bonus to have available for your marketing down the road. If used in television or YouTube, how could animating your logo help to tell your brand story?

10) Avoids design trends.

If you are paying a junior designer to throw together your logo using the most copied current design trends, you’re setting yourself up for it to disappear amidst the competition and look dated in no time. (Example: Using an X in the middle of the logo — this is already on its way out, if not long gone.) Is your designer showing you something that feels fresh and original?

11) Has appropriate use of typography.

Everything about the typography in your logo—from the typeface(s) to the weights, kerning, and capitalization—should telegraph your brand style and message. (An edgier brand may incorporate weathered text and an Old English font, for example.) Does the choice of typography used in your logo really represent you?

12) Has appropriate use of color(s).

Colors have a language too, and each evoke different emotional responses. Have you researched the color psychology behind the colors you’re committing to, and do they align with your brand? If working with an agency such as these logo designers in London, validate their color choices by sharing the rationale behind them.

13) Is readable.

Your logo should be easy to read—both close up and far away. Can people read your logo?

14) Passes the “five-second test.”

The message your logo conveys should be quickly recognizable. If someone were to look at your logo for five seconds, would they know what your business is selling?

15) Is culturally relevant to your target audience.

I once worked for someone who insisted that his company’s logo use purple. I have nothing against purple, but his main target audience was upper-level management in the business world, and purple clearly wasn’t a good match for his brand personality. Everyone knew it, but he refused to change it because he liked that color. What about you—are you simply using what you think looks great, or are you considering what your primary target audience wants to see?

Full disclaimer: Hardly any logos check off all of these criteria. Some of the all-time best logos don’t even meet all of them. But running your logo through this list is a great way to refine and strengthen it. The more you can check off this list the better off your logo will be!

Do you have any questions about logo design? We would love to hear from you. Please get in touch or feel free to comment below.