Logo Design: Five Key Elements for Reaching Your Target Audience

Christopher Wallace

What do Nike, McDonalds, Apple, and Coca-Cola have in common? If your answer is that they are all large and very successful corporations, then you would be very correct. But that’s not the only right answer. In fact, the other answer may go a long way in explaining the astounding success of these businesses—they all have distinct and memorable logos.

So why are logos so important? Well, think about it. As an individual, you want people to remember your face, right? Well, apply the same line of thinking to your business. Your business also needs a face—something that people will instantly recognize and always remember. Taking things a step further, you would also like that face to do even more—to inspire trust and cultivate loyalty. The right logo for your business can help you accomplish all these goals.

Choosing the right logo is not as easy as it may seem. You may come up with something cute and snazzy that says nothing to the audience you are trying to target. Or you could have a logo that looks astounding up on that billboard but dull and uninspiring when you place it in a newspaper ad. There are many factors you need to consider and many pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are some pointers to help you design the logo that will work best for you:

The logo should be simple.

We’ve all seen the Nike “swoosh.” What could be simpler than that? And now try to name a logo that has been more effective. It’s not easy to come up with one. The fact is that in logo design, simplicity is a very good thing. It makes a logo easily recognizable, highly identifiable, and continually memorable. It catches in the eye in almost any venue or setting. And it has a way of sticking in your mind. It may be tempting to overuse that cool new font or to try incorporating several ideas into one image, but don’t do it. Instead, use the K.I.S.S. approach (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).

The logo should look good everywhere.

Think about every possible place your logo may appear and then think about how it will look in each of them. Are there a lot of fine lines in your logo? If so, it may not hold up well when you shrink the size. Are you designing your logo using bitmap graphics software? If so, think about switching to vector format. Zooming in on a bitmap graphic will usually highlight the pixels and can distort the image beyond recognition. What about colors? It’s easy to fall in love with them but if you do you are falling into a trap. Start your design in black and white. Then add colors only after you are sure that the design holds up well when the colors are removed or when only one is present. Remember that you want your logo to look good on any background and in all settings.

The logo should be unique.

Your logo is your brand so make it distinctive. Nobody thinks much of a copycat. And you don’t want your customers to confuse your logo with that of another company either. It’s never a bad idea to look at what your competitors are doing. But when it comes to logos, use this knowledge to make your design stand apart from theirs instead of mimicking theirs. Another pitfall to avoid is downloading stock images from the web and using them in your logo. You may run the risk of copyright infringement, and even if you dodge that bullet, there is still a good chance that somebody somewhere is using that same image.

The logo should resonate with your target audience.

Your logo should be appropriate for your business but that doesn’t mean it has to show what your business does. The golden arches don’t have cheeseburgers on them and the Apple logo shows no sign of a computer anywhere. The important thing a logo needs to do is to speak to your target audience. If you run a children’s toy store, it’s not crucial to have an image of a toy in your logo or to have the word “toys” in there either. What is more important is to use a color scheme or font that is childlike and appeals to kids.

The logo should be memorable.

You want people to remember your logo and the best way to do that is to avoid having to change it every couple of years. So you should always avoid the temptation to latch on to the latest trend. Trends don’t last and your logo can become very dated very quickly. Another trap to avoid is becoming font-challenged. You want your font to match your icon—but if they match too well, then the two of them may be competing for attention. You need to strike the right balance. Also, remember that too many fonts can be disturbing to the eyes and repulsive to the memory cells! Use at most two of them so that your logo will remain legible and memorable.

Your logo is your business calling card. A bad one will cause people to ignore you and a good one will get them to notice you. And a very good one will keep them thinking about you all the time. Treat your logo like you treat your appearance—make it look good. If you take the trouble to make your logo shine, your will likely see your business begin to sparkle.