What Makes A Brand Logo Hard To Forget?

A bad brand logo could be the death knell for your business. Want people to be confused, alienated from, and completely disinterested in your brand? Then a bad logo is a good place to start.

It may sound dramatic, but when you really think of it, a logo is often the first thing you see when engaging with a brand. Whether it be hanging above a shop, plastered on a poster, or flashing by on your phone as you scroll endless accounts looking for a new winter warmer for your cuddly yet prone to cold chihuahua. 

That’s why it’s so important not to see your logo as a secondary consideration. It requires careful, considered contemplation, it requires research, but above all, it requires a certain tact and creativity in regards to some absolutely essential elements.

Those elements? Well, I think a good thing to do before we get into those is to take a moment to pause and think about something. 

So let’s try it.

When I say the words “memorable logo,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Really quick, just the first few images.

Okay, thinking over? 

Let me guess. Did you get… Apple? Coca-Cola? Amazon? McDonald’s? Nike

If you ended up with any of the same brand logos as me then that might not just be a coincidence. There’s a reason we tend to think of these specific logos before others. They’re brain-wormingly memorable! And that’s exactly due to those absolutely essential elements I touched upon earlier. See, there are certain traits that all of the above logos share that contribute to their quality. 

So, with pondering prefacing over, let’s get into the elements that make a brand logo hard to forget. 

Good Brand Logos Reflect One Value

The first essential element concerns your logos ability to communicate the essential value of your brand. This is important because a logo that tries to do too much, that is, a logo that tries to reflect or communicate multiple and possibly disparate things, will inevitably blur or water down the core value that you actually want to communicate. By doing this your audience will surely struggle to relate to your brand. Remember, a logo only gives your audience a brief and fleeting moment to engage with your brand, you need to make sure that whatever it is you want to communicate is clear to that audience. Otherwise you lose them in the first second. 

That’s why it’s good to make sure you have an agreed understanding of what the single primary value that you want your brand to be known for. Then, and only then, can you proceed with creating a logo that reflects this. Ultimately, you want your audience to see your logo and understand, within the incredibly brief confines that it offers, what your brand is all about. 

If it sounds difficult, it’s because it is.

Some brands that do this well include FedEx and Amazon, who both use the arrow symbol in their logo as a representation of their most essential role, as a delivery system. When done really, well, as in the case of Amazon, you can reflect one value in a way that still conveys depth. Check out the arrow on the Amazon logo. Where does it start and where does it end? Amazon not only works as a delivery service, but they also have everything from A to Z. They use one simple trick to reflect one value whilst conveying multiple elements of that value. It doesn’t overcomplicate it at all, it just gives the audience something more to read into.

Good Brand Logos Appeal To Their Target Audience 

Here’s the thing, we all want to create something that we like, but sometimes we need to step outside of ourselves to get the real picture. When it comes to designing a logo, this is absolutely the case. If you want your target audience to remember your logo, you need to design what they like. And sure, if you’ve researched your target audience well and you have a real connection to your business, then your audience’s interest may well cross over with your own, and that will help you to understand your audience better, which is great. But you still need to think about the audience first. Look into what appeals to them, to their tastes, their desires, their concerns, and address those things in your logo. 

Don’t be selfish with your design. You’re not trying to catch your own eye here, you’re already fully invested. You want to capture their attention. 

Look at a brand like Chanel. The logo is simple, sure, but think about what it communicates in relation to their products and the audience they want to capture. Chanel is famous for their sleek, stylish, minimal couture clothing. And they’re especially famous for their staple: the little black dress. Compare that to another high end fashion house like Vivienne Westwood. Vivienne Westwood could easily be categorized alongside Chanel; both high end, culturally-significant, luxury clothing brands, but both with vastly different styles. Vivienne Westwood is a bit louder, reminiscent of its punk origins. But Chanel is more simple, low key. Its potential audience will be partial to that kind of style. Therefore it only makes sense that the logo should reflect that sense of style. The minimal, black double-C is almost redolent of the little black dress itself. The logo literally reflects the clothing. An audience with a taste for that kind of clothing will relate more easily to that logo. 

Good Brand Logos Differentiate From The Competition 

This is why research is important. To design a good logo, you need to understand the sector you’re operating within. Unforgettable Brands stand out from their competitors, they don’t blend in. With the digital space creating an ocean of choice that’s deeper than it ever has been, you need to be extra mindful so as to not let your logo get lost in the waves. 

Imagine you walked into a store looking for a cold drink. You look longingly at the long stretch of stacked sodas in the luminescent refrigerator. One problem, they all look exactly the same. How can you possibly choose? 

This is why it’s important to stand out, or your logo will get lost in the shuffle and placed at the back of your audience’s mind. 

Sometimes this might come down to making a choice that doesn’t seem so instantly sensible. After all, if all the other brands are doing it, they must be on to something right? But then, you don’t want to mimic, you want to be the trailblazer. 

Just look at Apple. Compare their logo to what other computer system companies were doing around the same time. Most of them were doing the obvious. What seemed like the right thing. Their name rendered in a way that suggested inhabiting a digital or technological space. Not Apple. A simple apple-shaped logo. Sure, there’s more going on beneath the surface: the apple of knowledge, kicking open the door to enlightenment, etc. But that’s not what the audience saw, at least not straight away. The technology was new for a residential market, it was confusing. In Apple they saw something simple, approachable. And when you think about it, this is still their essential value. Which brings us to our next point.

Good Brand Logos Are Timeless

Repetition is recognition. You don’t want to have a massive rebrand every five years, eventually people will start to forget who you even are. If the same logo can be used for years without looking “old fashioned” your brand equity will increase exponentially. You want people to know your brand by your logo, and you want to keep those people sticking around for years to come. 

There are plenty of examples for logos that have rarely changed over the many years they’ve been operating, which just goes to show how highly the world’s biggest brands prioritise timelessness in their logos. It also proves how much research and consideration they put into creating the logo in the first place. 

Good Brand Logos Are Simply Versatile  

  • Simple enough to be used in any print or digital scenario, yet still legible at any size 
  • Adaptability across a wide variety of uses and mediums.

Good Brand Logos Are Easily Identifiable 

  • They can be recognized from any angle or distance even when the entire logo isn’t seen/isn’t visible.

What Is a Bad Brand Logo? What Your Brand Logo Shouldn’t Do

While we’re at it, we may as well list off the essential elements that make for a bad logo. Now that you know what you need to do, make sure you take note of the things you need to stay far away from:

  • Your logo should not reflect multiple core values. This will confuse your audience and make it difficult for them to connect to your brand.
  • Your logo should simply appeal only to what you like with no thought your audience.
  • Don’t let it blend in by copying, impersonating or drawing too much inspiration from competitors.
  • Don’t follow trends, Sure, it might look snazzy now, but it’s likely to age badly and require redesign, losing its timelessness.
  • Your logo shouldn’t be too complex or with too much detail. If you want versatility and clarity, keep things simple. 
  • But, having said that, your logo shouldn’t be so simple that it’s impossible to make an association with the business it’s representing. After all, rule element one was about clearly reflecting a value. You can still do this in a simple way. 

These essential elements aren’t just useful for the world’s biggest brands, they’re essential for all brands. You might be on the smaller side now, but as you grow, so will your brand and so will your exposure, you don’t want to halt or stammer that growth. Put in the work now and reap the rewards later. 

The Author: Josh Ellis