Simply stated as many have before me a good logo has the following qualities:
2) Distinct & Memorable
Let me elaborate.
A logo should stand out and be distinct. You should use negative space effectively, almost never use more than 2 fonts. Subtract as much as possible, and if in doubt leave it out. Avoid distracting elements, and make it legible. And by all means, AVOID a tagline if possible.
A logo should always be as simple as possible. It should include only the necessary elements and nothing more. It should be easily recognized, and unique without being overly drawn or with too many effects. But not only does it need to be simple, it needs to be memorable.
These two go hand in hand. IF a logo causes you to pause and think, that is not good. The more one has to ponder or think about it, the more barriers there are to it being memorable. Ironically, the more simple and memorable it is, the more timeless it becomes.
This is because we tend to see trends whether its 3D effects, gradients, or other vector effects that while in certain applications may look cool, detract from the overall brand. Look at all the major brands, ok most of the major brands, the ones that stand out and you will see how they have evolved to be more simple, and timeless. Two great examples are Apple and Starbucks. I am sure you can google the images and history easily enough.
A logo is meant to watermark things that let people know it’s your brand. It should always be present, but never in your face, to build up brand associate and recognition. Well in most cases. There are exceptions and applications where the logo becomes front and center. But be careful not to over do it. We tend to block these things out over time. It always comes back to balance.
But keeping this in mind takes you through the versatility and creating a good logo. A logo that is simple and memorable and timeless will easily work across mediums, in color, and in black and white. From being small on the size of a postage stamp to business cards to extra large on a billboard.
This often plays out in the fonts you chose. Fonts are so important for legibility, and flexibility. Remember less is always more. Funky and cool fonts while interesting at first, tend to work against you over time.
The final part of the puzzle is appropriate. The logo should be an appropriate blend of fonts, icons, and colors for your target audience. For instance, I often see people use black and red together. While powerful on the eyes this combination means death in many Asian cultures, so it has some very negative stigmas you don’t want a brand to have to overcome.
You can push the boundaries of fonts, but be careful not to over do it. The right font and balance will make all the difference between someone respecting and trusting the brand vs just seeing you as a commodity. After all, thats why we want to establish and differentiate brands. If you are a brand, you name your price, vs a commodity goes to the whims of the market. Do you want to be an Apple or and Dell?
One other key point that people tend to be confused about. A logo does not need to show what a business sells or offers as a product. I.e. computer service companies don’t need to show a computer, and car logos don’t need to show a car. Apple isn’t a computer, and Harley Davidson’s logo isn’t a motorcycle. Further evidence of this, take the top 50 brands in the world – 94% of the logos do not describe what the company does.
I won’t go into it here, but the psychology and power of colors are often overlooked. Just realize in this day and age pretty much every color has been used. So your logo will have similar colors to something. So focus more on the power and meaning of the colors along with balance more than whether someone else has the same colors.
I hope this helps answer this question. Feel free to ask us more or see more of what we have as resources for small and medium size businesses.