AbsoluteProof software disk label, first iteration

The most successful business logos share valuable characteristics. Here are some of the most important.

It is simple

The “too busy” logo is a roadblock to communication, so don’t crowd it with stuff;

  • green flag,
  • fairway,
  • golfer,
  • peninsula,
  • borders,
  • circles,
  • curving type.
  • It’s easy to get carried away, but you’ll create a stronger image with fewer pieces.

It is bold

Fine lines make lovely illustrations but poor logos because they’re difficult to see, and a fine line will often break up or even disappear when reproduced.

Bold logo compared with fine lines.

Although the two logos are rather similar, visualize them on vehicles moving through city traffic: You’d—(blink)—miss the first one.

Absolute-Proof | Company name, branding, web design


It is appropriate for the business

This seems like common sense, but in the throes of artistic rapture common sense often goes out the window. Make sure the intricate strands of D.N.A. that was so much fun to draw is suitable for the biotechnology company that you’re working for.

Hand-held photorealistic mockup of front of Bionona business card, printed in 4 colours, litho offset.

The final Bionona logo creates a strong signature for the company. The logo design is an infographic symbol of a snip genetic code from a novel peptide developed in the lab.

It works well in all sizes

Herb Centre branding, property signage.

This one’s often overlooked by designers who make presentations on large format paper: The logo that looks great at billboard size must also work on a business card.

Herb Centre Clinic / Dispensary / Café stationery system, two colour, orange and grey, type and symbol logo, two-sided business card design, letterhead and DLE envelope. Healthcare, Brand and identity systems design, Illustration, print production
hand-held portrait of Herb Centre Clinic / Dispensary / Café business card, two-sided design, two colour, orange and grey, type and symbol logo, Healthcare, Brand and identity systems design, Illustration

Logo with too much detail comparison.

Typically, a logo designed at a large size has too much detail to be clear when reduced; note (top) how the lines crowd together.

A good solution is to build a second logo with less detail (bottom) for use in smaller sizes.

Design logo and name as a unit

WindsorUrban building signage mockup.

Designed as a unit, logo and name can be powerful. Above, note how the logo colour is used in the name to enable the wordspace between windsor and urban to be unnecessary.

If the company name will be part of the design—especially popular on signage—look for ways to integrate the two.

It is distinctive

Bush Whiskey label.


Don’t settle for the ordinary (let other companies and products be ordinary). Your company is unique—that is, it has a distinctive culture and market presence; capture this intelligently and thoughtfully.

The same goes for naming your product or service, the name and branding need to capture the essence of it in a way that grabs attention and is memorable.

Waitui Single Malt Whiskey label and packaging.


Circles are strong design elements, line, form & colour are too

A circle is a familiar focal point which the eye interprets with little effort. Its soft edges are more often pleasing than those of angular squares and triangles. Cousin to the circle is the ellipse.

Hexagon shaped logo.

Polygons also provide familiar focal points, the hexagon for example suggests a scientific theme.

Logos whose colour harmonies work well on black as well as white backgrounds are pleasing.

Draft Bionona logo on black.

Draft Bionona logo on black.

Logos whose colour harmonies work well on black as well as white backgrounds are pleasing.

Avoid extremely tall or wide logos, and trendy type

Windsor Heritage draft logo.

Too wide.

Trendy typeface text.

Unless you’re in the fashion business, the type for your corporate identity should still be suitable years from now—Garamond, Minion, Helvetica—are always appropriate; in general, low-key is best.

Odd shapes are hard to fit into common spaces—business cards, advertisements and so forth—and as a rule they aren’t as pleasing; a good proportion for a logo is roughly 3 units wide by 2 units tall, about the ratio of a TV screen (a 1-to-1 ratio also works quite well.)

Weststone | Rebrand

Download the PDF: Good Logo hangline book

©magentadot brands

2009–Present MagentaDot Brands, Booklet, Christchurch Technology Barbeque, Content strategy, Logos and symbols, Web content development, Web content writing

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