Logos aren’t illustrations. They are abstractions. They tell A story, not THE story. They should work as well the size of your small pinky fingernail (in black and white) as they do on the side of an 18-wheeler in color…three colors max, please.
There are three main criteria good logos satisfy. I’ll use the Apple Computer logo as an example.
A good logo is simple. It is not an illustration with a bunch of detail. Most logos use positive and negative space very well. Think Target, Nike, and the Coca-Cola script. No outlines, no shading, no gradients to fall apart at small sizes. The Apple logo used to be banded with a rainbow of colors. The refreshed design works great big and small. It’s simple and an immediate read.
A good logo is unique. An apple with a bite taken out of it is kind of an odd mark for a computing company, no? So it’s memorable and stands out from the crowd. How many lawyers use the scales in their logos? A: Too many of them! How many roofers use rooflines? *sigh* These marks don’t differentiate; they don’t say anything special. They don’t tell us what the brand does well.
Which brings us to metaphor, which in laymen’s terms means using one thing to stand for another. Telling a story. The Apple logo is all about that bite. Remember the Garden of Eden? That bite out of the apple=knowledge!! Perfect for a computing company…and the twist is a delight.
So check your logo for SUM. Does it compute?