Vital Tips For Effective Logo Design


There have been numerous creative logo design showcases1, logo design resources2 and logo design tutorials3 posted across the Web. While these help you to create a powerful toolbox for your logo designs, first you need to gain a solid understanding of what makes a logo design good and what you need to consider before starting using this toobox.

In this article, we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of what makes an effective logo design and we’ll also guide you through the principles and best practices of how to create an iconic brand identity.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

What Is A Logo?

To understand what a logo is, we first must understand what the main purpose of logos is. The design process must aim to make the logo immediately recognizable, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand or economic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are strikingly different from other logo in the same market niche. Logos are used to identify.

Paul Rand, one of the world’s greatest designers states that “a logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like. The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything.”

For more on Paul Rand, consider reading the book Design, Form & Chaos8.

What Makes A Good Logo?

Rand Logos

A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message9. A concept or “meaning” is usually behind an effective logo, and it communicates the intended message. A logo should be able to be printed at any size and, in most cases, be effective without color. A great logo essentially boils down to two things: great concept and great execution.

Logo Design Process

“Some wonder what’s so difficult about creating a good logo. They’re small, they look easy to do, so no problem, right? When you only see the result of a designer’s efforts, the logo creation can look like it was a simple task. But it’s not. A logo takes thought and creativity, and many elements combine to make a good one.” (via Harrison Mcleod10)

When creating a logo, follow a process that ensures the final design meets the needs of the clients. Below, we have listed the typical process that professional logo designers follow. With practice, you will no doubt develop your own.

Logo Design Process

Design brief.
Conduct a questionnaire or interview with the client to get the design brief.

Conduct research on the industry itself, its history and competitors. Problem-solve first, design later.

Conduct research on logo designs that have been successful and on current styles and trends that may relate to the design brief. Follow trends not for their own sake but rather to be aware of them: longevity in logo design is key.

Sketching and conceptualizing.
Develop the logo design concept(s) around the brief and your research. This is the single most important part of the design process. Get creative and be inspired. As Dainis Graveris11 has written once, “sketching isn’t time-consuming and is a really good way to put ideas in your head right on paper. After that, it’s always easier to actually design it on the computer. Sketching helps to evolve your imagination: once you understand it, you will always start from just white paper.

Image by Panoramas12.

Take breaks throughout the design process. This helps your ideas mature, renews your enthusiasm and allows you to solicit feedback. It also gives you a fresh perspective on your work.

Revisions and positioning.
Whether you position yourself as a contractor (i.e. getting instructions from the client) or build a long-lasting relationship (i.e. guiding the client to the best solution), revise and improve the logo as required.

Present only your best logo designs to your client. PDF format usually works best. You may also wish to show the logo in context, which will help the client more clearly visualize the brand identity. Preparing a high-quality presentation is the single most effective way to get your clients to approve your designs.

“Canned presentations have the ring of emptiness. The meaningful presentation is custom designed—for a particular purpose, for a particular person. How to present a new idea is, perhaps, one of the designer’s most difficult tasks. This how is not only a design problem, it also pleads for something novel.

Everything a designer does involves presentation of some kind—not only how to explain (present) a particular design to an interested listener (client, reader, spectator), but how the design may explain itself in the marketplace… A presentation is the musical accompaniment of design. A presentation that lacks an idea cannot hide behind glamorous photos, pizazz, or ballyhoo. If it is full of gibberish, it may fall on deaf ears; if too laid back, it may land a prospect in the arms of Morpheus.” (Paul Rand)

Delivery and support.
Deliver the appropriate files13 to the client and give all support that is needed. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. After you’ve finished, have a beer, eat some chocolate and then start your next project.

Logo Design Process Case Studies

For some in-depth examples of how professional logo designers work, check out these logo design process case studies:

Tenth Logo14

Tenth Church Logo Design Process15 by Nancy Wu16
Nancy Wu goes through her logo sketches and development for the Tenth Church logo.

16 Revealed Logo Design Processes17 by The Design Cubicle18
Brian Hoff lists 16 logo design process walkthroughs found across the Web.

5 Principles Of Effective Logo Design

Effective Logo Design

As mentioned, a good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message. You should follow the five principles below to ensure that your design meets all of these criteria:

  1. Simple
  2. Memorable
  3. Timeless
  4. Versatile
  5. Appropriate

1. Simple

Nike Logo

Simplicity makes a logo design easily recognizable, versatile and memorable. Good logos feature something unexpected or unique, without being “overdrawn.”

While in college in the mid-’70s, an instructor introduced me to the K.I.S.S. Principle19 of design, which translates as: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It does convey a very important design consideration. Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client.

A refined and distilled identity will also catch the attention of a viewer zipping by signage at 70 miles per hour, on packaging on the crowded shelves of a store, or in any other vehicle used for advertising, marketing and promotion. Remember, the basis of the hugely effective international branding for the world’s largest shoe manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh.

Jeff Fisher20

On that note, you may find the history of the Nike logo21 quite interesting.

2. Memorable

McDonalds Logo

Following closely on this principle of simplicity is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable, which is achieved by keeping it simple yet appropriate.

Surprising to many, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance, and even appropriateness of content does not always play a significant role.

This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship between a symbol and what it symbolized is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, objectionable. Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.

Paul Rand2922

3. Timeless

Underground Logo

An effective logo should be timeless. Will yours stand the test of time? Will it still be effective in 10, 20 or 50 years?

Leave trends to the fashion industry. Trends come and go, and when you’re talking about changing a pair of jeans or buying a new dress, that’s fine, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.

David Airey23

4. Versatile


An effective logo works across a variety of media and applications. For this reason, logos should be designed in vector24 format, to ensure that they scale to any size.

Ask yourself, is your logo still effective if it is printed…

  • In one color?
  • In reverse color (i.e. light logo on dark background)?
  • The size of a postage stamp?
  • As large as a billboard?

One way to create a versatile logo is to begin designing in black and white. This allows you to focus on the concept and shape, rather than color25, which is subjective in nature. Also keep in mind printing costs: the more colors you use, the more expensive it will be for the business over the long term.

I like to work first in black and white to ensure that the logo will look good in its simplest form. Color is very subjective and emotional. This can distract from the overall design – say if you saw your logo in all red, that color may be the first thing that you respond to and not the composition of the design elements. I will not even consider submitting color suggestions to a client for review until they have signed off on a final black and white logo.

Patrick Winfield26

Familiarize yourself with the commercial printing process so that you do not encounter printing problems down the line. Know the difference between the CMYK, Pantone and RGB color systems27.

5. Appropriate


How you “position” the logo should be appropriate for its intended audience. For example, a child-like font and color scheme would be appropriate for a logo for a children’s toy store, not so much for a law firm.

A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better. The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an airplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer. Etc.

David Airey28

Should a logo be self-explanatory? It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.

Paul Rand2922

How Much Does A Logo Cost?

How much does a logo cost

In my experience, this is the most frequently asked question. It cannot be easily answered because every company has different needs. The best approach is to draw up a customized quote for each client.

You have to take a number of factors into consideration when designing a logo, such as how many logo concepts need to be presented, how many revisions will be needed, how much research is required, how big the business is and so on.

How To Choose A Logo Designer?

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

Keep an eye out for certain things when choosing a logo designer:

  • Experience and proven success
    Do they have a proven track record? How experienced are they?
  • Testimonials
    Do they have positive testimonials from previous clients? Ensure you check the validity of testimonials. A quick email to the company should suffice.
  • Their design process
    Do they follow a logo design process?
  • Awards won and published work
    Have they won any awards for their work? Is their work published in any books or magazines? How recognized are they in the industry?
  • Strength of portfolio
    How strong is their portfolio? Have they got 100+ mediocre logo designs or 10 to 30 excellent ones? What is the ratio of real to fake logo designs?
  • Timeframe
    How long would they take to complete your logo? A typical logo design process takes 4 to 15 days, but many can go for months on end. Think of how long your logo design will be used for: would you want it to be designed (much less researched) in less than 24 hours?
  • Price
    The cost of the service usually reflects what you will receive. In most cases, you get what you pay for… but price is not the only indication.
  • Affiliations
    Are they affiliated with any design associations or publications? This is a good indication of how dedicated they are to their craft, though it is not essential.
  • Professionalism and communication
    How do they present themselves? Do they respond to your emails quickly? How do they communicate? Do they work with a contract (to protect both them and you)?
  • Questions asked
    How many questions does the designer ask about your business? Questions should revolve around your company’s history, target market, goals, etc.

A big thank you to Sven and Vitaly for the opportunity to write for Smashing Magazine. Much appreciated. If you have any questions, comments or advice to share, please do leave a message in the comments below.

Recommended Logo Design Resources

Related Posts

You may be interested in the following related posts:



  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Jacob Cass is a logo, Web and graphic designer from Sydney, Australia, who freelances under his business Just Creative Design, which doubles as a wildly popular design blog. Jacob also judges logos for the Logo of the Day website and runs the Logo Designer Blog, a blog dedicated entirely to branding and logo design. Jacob’s talent has brought him numerous international design awards, including Wolda’s “Best of Continent” and “Best of Australia.” Jacob’s work has been published in books worldwide, and he is in the process of writing his own book focused on logo design.

  1. 1

    Thnx for this :)

  2. 52

    Really Good

  3. 103

    A very interesting article

  4. 154

    All on the table… I charge 700 – 1000 NZD for logo design and development. This gives me enough time to work through my process and produce good quality logos. I am in business with very little overheads. I work mainly with small business startups. Not really in the corporate market.

    My process is similar to most decent designers. I have a good brief form and probe for information at the start. i outline my process to the client and explain why it works and generally they give in to it and let “design” take over. I agree that sketching is always the key to nailing down concepts quickly at the initial stage. I rarely show these to the client, most dont have the vision. I draw up in Illustrator and produce roughly 2-3 concepts to present to client. if requried will revisit concept stage again with feedback, but probably only have to do this 1-2 times in 10. We then work through fine tuning logo and type, i dont put a limit on changes and rely on ability as a designer and communication with client. Not often a problem. Work out colours. and signoff. I produce a brief spec sheet for this price, covering basic colour specs, fonts and some quick regs. Possibly I am at the cheap end of the spectrum for logo design in the professional feild. I make reasonable money at it and dont feel the need to charge alot more.

    Be keen for some other designers to drop some figures?

    @Flauwy. This is a great idea. (Are you listening smashing) Would love to see a showcase of logo designers. Maybe smashing could call for submissions, and put up a list of the best 20-30 decent logo designers.


  5. 205

    Peter Grogan, Emagine Media

    August 27, 2009 8:25 am

    Great article, both for us as designers but also as a guide for a new customer that does not understand the design process!

  6. 256


    First of all, great work on the article. Well organized, easy to read, and covers most of the basics. Thank you.

    I would, however, like to make one small suggestion in regards to your Timeframe notes though. You say 4-15 days as a base timeframe and I find that a little scary. A logo in four days wouldn’t be much of a logo. You wouldn’t even be able to conduct proper research and get answers from the client in that amount of time. I would change that to 4-6 weeks. This covers research, concept, design and refinement for a basic, simple logo package. Add a standards manual or stationery and you’re looking at more like 2-6 months for a high quality identity package.

    Many comments above asked about pricing as well… AIGA recommends not charging less than $800 for a basic logo (unless your donating work to a non-profit or something), and also notes that corporate identities can be upwards of $40,000. Of course, for most small-medium business, you can expect a cost of around $1,200-$3k for an independent designer and $5k-$15k for a design studio – depending on the experience of the designer/studio and the scope of the project. This price usually includes the design of custom stationery, a basic standards manual, and management of the printing process.

    I hope this helps. Thanks again for the great post.

    Gage Mitchell, AIGA

    :: Graphic Designer

  7. 307

    Hi, it’s a greatday, I agree with your pits, it’s helpful

  8. 358

    fantastic article, although it comes on the day I am presenting the final logo to a client. While I feel we were successful, some of this info could have been helpful during the process.

    @Gage, we were forced into developing an entire brand identity in just under 2 weeks and we actually pulled it off. it included the brand voice as well as logo development. I would never recommend this to anyone.

  9. 409

    A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture.

    Seems so obvious when you read it but generally people don’t realize that.

  10. 460

    Tanner Christensen

    August 27, 2009 12:52 pm

    Thanks for linking to my 45 “Rules” of Logo Design, I appreciate it! Though it’s meant to be taken very lightly. ;)

  11. 511

    Thanks for the ones took the (little) time to answer me… #21, #24 : )

  12. 562

    Thank you for all your positive feedback! Sorry I can not reply to you all individually (quite busy) though I have read your replies and appreciate your words.

    I was not aware of the SMART accronym, a good way of remembering it! SMAVT just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    This article may be of assistance regarding pricing:

    I appreciate your feedback, but each of my articles have been written for different audiences. I am sure that not all of the 140,000+ subscribers of SmashingMag have read all of my other articles. This is why you may see some overlap.

    I do agree with what you have said regarding the timeframe but sometimes it does have to work out in a shorter period of time. There are so many considerations you have to take into account such as pricing, deadlines, budgets, etc before we get into what is a “typical” time frame. What I stated was a guide only. In regards to small business I would say (from my experience) the average turn around time is 2-5 weeks.

    However in saying this, I would say 4 days still gives you enough time to do enough research / development for a successful logo. Sure it might not have been the best result you could have if you have had more time, but sometimes there are deadlines.

    For example, I had to do a logo & identity in 3 days for a new shop that was opening that had no signage for the store.
    You can see the result here – Although there could have been a better solution, it still is successful and looks great (in my opinion). Again, there are so many other considerations that have to be taken into account – including the skill of the designer.

    Regarding the pricing you have specified, this was a good guide and I would second your words for those wanting the advice.

  13. 613

    everybody know these

    whtz new?

    remember only one thing..

    “it should be simple & crisp”

    you are done…

  14. 664

    Come on xasu23, we are not all as smart and experienced as you! You clearly know it all so why even bother to comment on this article anyway.

    Although I also knew some stuff mentioned in the article, it’s still full of new info and resource material. For me anyway. Thanks!

  15. 715

    @ Flauwy regarding logo cost

    A price range isn’t even worth publishing. The range can be as low as $1,000, up to millions of dollars for a large corporation’s branding project.

    Just think of it this way when deciding what to charge “What is this logo worth to the company? How important is it?” The time you put into it is irrelevant – it has to do with what it’s worth to the company. It’s easier to justify prices when you think of it this way… also it’s better to think of it this way because it is true. You are defining the basis of a brand, how a company will be viewed by the public – logos are important and should be billed as such.

  16. 766

    Excellent article–comprehensive and concise, covers most questions on effective logo design. The logos you presented here are some of the most memorable ones out there. I think the most important part of logo design is keeping is sleek, simple, and versatile. A logo like the Nike swoosh is perfect in that regard–very smooth and attractive, simple, and it can be printed/reproduced on nearly any product, paper or webpage. It’s design like that which turns a logo into a cultural icon.


  17. 817

    Fantastic article! Thanks for posting!

  18. 868

    Great article, I especially enjoyed going through the links to other resources. As a sometime logo designer, it’s always good to add some extra tricks to my inventory. Have you seen the DubLi logo? That’s my work, for example.

  19. 919

    Great amount of information. Much of which I have overlooked when trying to create a logo design. Thank you for sharing.

  20. 970

    Good stuff here.
    Apart from the examples used.
    Obviously these companies are accompanied by multi million dollar above the line advertising budgets. The designs are good but THAT is why these examples are recognisable, not the design.

    Would have been better to profile some small-time companies that subscribe to your key tenets of “effective logo design”.


  21. 1021

    Great article. We just won an award for our logo design. Used the formula that you described above. One of the articles on my blog covers a similar subject.

  22. 1072

    cool, but very bad would be a lot better if there were more pics and logos everywhere

  23. 1123

    Great article, thank you so much !

  24. 1174

    This is a very good article! loved it! Thaax soo much!

  25. 1225

    Logos for cars have always been using the principles listed here. Which makes sense why they’re all successful. Mercedes logo isn’t a car, that’s the rule we should remember for concepts.

  26. 1276

    The first story is of a young man trying to go about his business who encounters a force greater than himself:A young man in a certain village in central province is going about his own business, trying to make a living and all of that life consuming stuff. ,

  27. 1327

    Paul Rand is my/our hero, but while so many of his logos transcend the time period they were conceived in, Rand’s statement on the meaning of a logo is somewhat dated in the context of contemporary branding. Rand says that “a logo is less important than the product it signifies,” but many modern branding professionals (including some of the best graphic designers) will tell you that this isn’t the case for mega-brands like Nike. In her book ‘No Logo,’ Naomi Klein writes, “successful corporations must primarily produce brands, as opposed to products.” In other words, Nike’s indelible corporate identity – including, but not limited to its logo – transcends its products. Those sneakers will wear out in a while (and then you might buy whatever new model they’re hawking), but the Swoosh remains.

  28. 1378

    Dear Jacob,

    I’ve read your posts about logo design and it got me thinking about my own logo redesign.

    At first, I thougth of using design contest websites (like 99design, inkd, etc.) but after reading your posts I’m not sure anymore.

    I would really love to design my logo, color palette and website myself, but to be honest: i’m not good at it. I realised that, like my own profession as a business analyst, desiging logo’s or other websites is also a profession. Of course you can learn, but if its not your job, it’s a long way.

    Nonetheless I know what I like in colors, layout and style, but actually doing it myself in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is a bridge to far. (even with the excellent ‘logo tutorials’ available).

    At the moment I’m developing my own iPhone app and would like to have an accompanied website and logo (or the other way around). Unfortunately I’m not in the position to pay thousands of dollars on a logo and a site layout/style.

    So, I was hoping there’s something in between: not 99designs, not a pro-studio for Fortune-500 companies, but something in the middle.

    Can you give me some advice on how to find that design studio ?

    With regards,

    Rutger van Dijk

  29. 1429

    wow, i had a very clear research about how to create a SMART logo
    Robust (instead of Versatile)

    it was grate.
    Best regards,

  30. 1480

    Appreciate it! Yet another first class picture, this is certainly why we come for a blog page time and again.

  31. 1531

    Great post! Thank you for sharing a great post about logo design

  32. 1582

    Great article Jacob! I couldn’t agree more on. A must tips for designers and logo companies to practice. Getting the right logo for your business is vital in stamping your business in people’s minds. The guys at LogoDesignCreation helped me do just that and more. I was in need of a logo and I thought I would search the web for an inexpensive but high quality logo designer and thank God I found LogoDesignCreation. Any time someone needs a logo and wants to know where to get an effective, impressionable and inexpensive, high quality logo I will with great excitement send them to LOGODESIGNCREATION! What satisfied me the most was the timeliness, accuracy, patience, the undivided attention, and love that was showed for what the guys did! One thing that I would say is do a television commercial so others that are looking for a logo designer can have a great experience like I did !!

    Warm regards,
    Keyone Bell

  33. 1633

    I’ve learned so many things. This article is very useful & informative. After reading all these (also the links given), I wish if I could remake the logos I’ve design from last four years….

    Thank you so much. Please come back with excellent articles like this :)

  34. 1684

    very good article…

  35. 1735

    Awesome article, effective logo design is a must for anyone trying to make a web presence. Your article definitely guides the user well on their way to designing a logo that fits their needs.

    Another commonly overlooked aspect of logo design is the issue of keeping the logo SIMPLE… this is an absolute must if you want to look professional.

    Here is an article that goes into more detail on that:

    Thanks again for the great article!

  36. 1786

    I really hate this classsss! :/

  37. 1837

    Disposable Hero, I agree the world is becoming more disposable, but having rich meaning in logos and connecting at a subconscious level is still the very essence of what a logo is about. Neuroscience can provide some very straightforward principles to save you designing a logo no-go a la The Gap:

  38. 1888

    Good stuff :)

  39. 1939

    A lot of excellent points were made here, many of which seem to be overlooked by many budding logo designers.

  40. 1990

    Excellent tips about Logo Designing – Thanks

  41. 2041

    This is very much effective site for logo designer .It great helps to beginner who caret logo.

  42. 2092

    Very helpful indeed!

  43. 2143
  44. 2194

    Very helpful . Thank You.

  45. 2245

    I really need help I’m very hard at all to understand brife, if any tips and solutions, to understand the brief?

  46. 2296

    It is very informative and delivering the positive guidance to those who like to be a good logo designer

  47. 2347

    thnkz a lot…!! 4 ur sugesstion……

  48. 2398

    thanks a lot.. :D

  49. 2449

    great tips thank you!

  50. 2500

    Well, you pretty much cover the basics here.

    From someone who has been involved with this kind of thing for 30 years, first as a designer, then as a client, I do find it a bit ironic that many of the commenters have responded as if they had never seen the process revealed before.

    Folks, it has been beaten to death for well over 50 years. There is enough literature on this to start a library on the subject.

    Also: what does this have to do with design thinking? I thought this was a design thinkers group, not a designers group.


↑ Back to top