Elements of Great Logo Design for Businesses

Elements of Great Logo Design

A well-designed logo is more than a piece of art; it’s a business asset that helps you establish a brand’s identity. A well designed logo communicates the emotional attachment that your brand shares with your clients. A professionally designed logo can heighten a consumer’s trust for a brand, and trust leads to repeat customers. This article will talk about everything that needs to go into a logo to make it work.

There are three elements to great logo design:

1: Simplicity

The most important element to great logo design is simplicity. That means no fancy wingdings, no unnecessary parts. Few colors and little to no gradients. Using simple shapes, and legible fonts. 2 to 3 colors max.

The fewer parts a logo has, the easier it is to reproduce. The easier it is to reproduce, the more money your business will save when printing.

When we look at the most successful marks, they all work in one color. Apple uses two shapes in their logo, while Nike uses one shape. Simplicity makes it easy to reproduce at larger and smaller sizes, without affecting the way the logo looks.

Let’s take a look bellow:

Apple Logo Design Example

No matter how small or how large, the Apple logo looks like the Apple logo. The design is not compromised by the size. This can only be achieved when a logo design is simple. When a logo is simple, clients and customer can remember it much, much easier.

This is great for a brand, as remembering a mark means repeat business. Apple’s logo uses two shapes and works in one color. That’s it. Dead simple.

Now let’s look at an example of a poorly designed logo below:

Bad Logo Design Example

At first glance one might thing the design looks okay. However, let’s analyze the three main issues with this design –

  1. Overly detailed illustrations: The birds are extremely detailed and would be impossible to use for a website, or app icon. A fav-icon is the little icon on the top of your browser’s window tab. There would be no way to shrink the birds down wile retaining a recognizable shape. Remember above how apples logo still looked like an apple? This is how the “By The Docks” logo looks at 16×16 pixels:Poor Logo Design Example
  2. Unnecessary gradients: Generally, a logo doesn’t need gradients. There are brands that use gradient, but for the most part you don’t see them often. They are very difficult to silk screen, drive up printing cost, and don’t work well when they are scaled down.
  3. Using free or cheap fonts: A cardinal sin of logo design is using free or cheap fonts. “By The Docks” is typeset using a very cheap font know ass Algerian. The typeface cost around $19 and does not work well for logo design. Remember that a logo is the face of your brand. When customers see a free font as the main typeset for your logo, your brand instantly becomes associated with cheapness and low quality. For a complete list of fonts that should never be used check out WhatTheFont’s list here. Comic Sans and Papyrus are at the very top of that list (stay away from them!). 

Fonts to avoid

2: Being Memorable

A logo design must be memorable. The more complex a logo is, the harder it is to memorize. A great test to do, is to show someone who has never seen the logo before for 5 seconds. Then hand them a pencil and paper and see if they can redraw the logo. When a logo is simple, it’s easy for people to remember. An easy to remember logo is good for business. The Target logo is a great example of great logo design. Simple logo design helps you to communicate a clear and straightforward message. Using simple shapes can give a logo a very versatile life span. Below you will see marks designed by a few of the world’s greatest logo designers:

Easy to remember logos of the worldNotice that all of the logos shown here work in one color, and are extremely easy to remember. No complex shapes, no fancy additions, nothing that the logo doesn’t need. The purpose of a logo is to identify a brand, not to explain your service or product. This means if you have a bakery, try not to use a baker’s hat, or cake in the logo. 

3: Scalability

As we talked about before, a logo needs to work in many different sizes. It’s gotta work in a small 16 x 16 pixel space, and also as large as a billboard or storefront sign. An experienced logo designer will design your logo to be scalable so you don’t risk not being able to use your mark in certain situations.

As technology changes, we have way too many devices and screen sizes to keep track of. No matter the size, your logo needs to work on those devices, and lots of other places that might not even exist yet.

So those are the three elements of great logo design. There are a few other things you should know about great logo design:

Proportions Taken From Nature – The Golden Ratio & Using grids

Simple logos are anything but simple. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Professional logo designers use grids when they design to keep the mark visually uniform. The golden ration is used to give ideal and exquisitely beautiful proportions to the logo design. Applying the golden ratio brings a sense of balance and harmony to a brand’s mark.

UPS Logo broken down by Marks & Maker

Brand Representation

Your logo is a visual representation of your company’s corporate identity. Essentially, it is an identifying mark that people associate with your business. As such, it does not need to say what your business does. This means that if you have a shoe store, for instance, your logo does not need to show a shoe. You wan’t customers to be reminded of the great time they had, not the type of service it was.

Instead, it should express your brand’s emotional identity. But what does that mean? Well let’s look at a well known mark:

Amazon – Instead of depicting a shopping cart, shopping bag, or cash register (the service), it shows the smile that clients would experience if they shop on the site. The smile represents the way their clients feel (the emotional value) when they get  exactly what they were looking for conveniently delivered to their doorstep.

People Attach Emotional Experiences to Logos 

Every brand mark has a unique set of emotions that clients experience with that brand. If a customer has a positive experience with your product, service or restaurant,  they will attach that memory to the logo. This is why it is important for the logo to be simple, scalable and memorable. If your mark is too complex, people will associate negative emotions with your brand.

Do It Right The First Time

Time is a resource that we don’t ever get more of. Once it’s spent, its spent. Hiring a professional to get things done correctly will save you a great deal of time and money. As a business owner, I would never risk hiring someone that doesn’t use the above principles.As a Brand Consultant, I can’t count on ten hands how often business owner’s will go with an inexperienced designer to save money. Only after several revisions, lots of time wasted, and depleted budgets, end up with a mark that is still unusable. When you hire a professional, you mitigate the risks of poor logo design. Having a design that isn’t correct will cost you more in the long run… So spare yourself the risk and do it right the first time.

Overall, your logo is important for the visibility of your organization. But, beyond the visual aspect, it dramatically impacts your credibility and reputation. For that reason, it’s critical that you remember to keep your visual brand identity as simple as possible to make it easier for people to understand and recall.

If you would like to see some of our latest client work then click here!

If you would like to talk about getting your brand’s mark up to par you can contact HXT Sauce here.


Melinda Livesly is one of my favorite personalities in the branding space. She’s very upbeat and incredibly talented. I was very happy to feature her content for this blog post! Keep an eye out for her on the FUTUR. Thanks Melinda!
UPS Logo Breakdown – Content Contributor – Melinda Livesly:
“As the founder and brand strategist of Marks and Maker, Melinda unites over ten years of professional design experience with a penchant for thoughtful customer service.Melinda’s experience with notable names like Oakley, Paramount Pictures, and Loot Crate, coupled with her passion for creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, creates the perfect cocktail of impeccable workmanship, exceptional brands, and happy clientele.
Bad Fonts That You Should Never Use Images – Provided by First Web Designer.com Thanks guys for writing this article! Great work as always! Keep it up!
Apple Logo Images – Screen shots taken directly from Apple.com