Why Simple Logo Designs Kick Ass

Ottawa Logo Design

by Ryan Grassie - Apr. 18, 2012 at 2:14am

One design-related trend among smaller companies involves the complexity they often seek in their logos. Many corporate decision-makers prefer intricate logo designs that seem as if they required significant time to create. The level of detail in their ideas can be staggering.

A lot of professional designers take an alternate route. They create logos that are simple and memorable, and can successfully communicate the company’s brand story. However, when these early drafts are presented to clients, they are often rebuffed in favor of something more complex. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the advantages of using a simple logo. This article will describe these advantages, as well as some of the downsides. By its end, you’ll understand why the logos of many of the world’s top brands are simplistic in their design.

Communicating Strength

 A lot of company owners approach their logo designs without considering the messages they convey to their respective audiences. Instead, they focus on features that appear attractive, trendy, or “cool.” This is the reason many contemporary designs contain swooshes, pointy men, and even tribal symbols that have little to do with the companies behind the logos. The problem here is that these designs quickly become outdated.

By contrast, consider the logos of the world’s largest brands. They are simple, and project a sense of strength and constancy. Ford Motor Company’s logo offers a good example: white lettering of the company’s name is superimposed upon a blue, oval-shaped emblem. The design has been in effect since 1928.

A sense of permanence is one of the advantages to using a simple design. It is the reason such logos are used by financial institutions, such as Chase Bank, Bank Of America, and Wells Fargo.

Consistent Output Across Various Media

Another reason to use a straightforward design is because they are often more adaptive to a range of different media. Whether this is important for your logo depends on how you intend to use it. For example, a complicated design may be fine if you only intend to display it on your website. But if you also plan to use it on your letterhead, business cards, custom bumper stickers, product packaging, and sales brochures, it may appear muddied.

Here, again, it is instructive to look at the designs of the largest brands since most of them use their logos on various media. For instance, the logos of Hewlett-Packard, FedEx, and Microsoft are well-suited for displaying online, and printing on a range of surfaces.

Promoting Immediate Recognition

Simple designs are more memorable. When we observe an uncomplicated logo, it is easier to recall the company, its products, and the ideas for which it stands. This quick recognition also brings to mind their brand story, which strengthens the image we have about the company in our minds.

For instance, consider Apple’s apple and Nike’s swoosh. Text is unnecessary in both designs. From observing their respective symbols, we immediately recognize both companies, and can imagine their products. Think of UPS’s identifiable brown and yellow shield, or IBM’s rectangular, striped letters. Both are immediately recognizable.

The Drawbacks To A Simple Design

So, is a simple logo always appropriate? Or, are there times when a complex design offers an advantage? The answer is that complexity does pose benefits.

For example, it is often difficult to trademark simple logos. If you can do so successfully, you may still find it difficult to protect the trademark. Also, the simpler a design is, the harder it is to make the design appear distinctive from others. There are fewer features with which to work. Even though this challenge can be solved by a professional designer, it is worth considering.

Neither downside presents a compelling argument against simplicity. Rather, both are limitations that are worth taking into account. You’ll find in most cases, a simple logo design will prove more effective than one that is needlessly complex.


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