If you’re working with a graphic designer who suggests that you “take a ride,” he or she likely wants to point out some famous logos—as well as some inferior logos—along the way. Prepare yourself for both an eye-opening and enlightening ride, for famous logos became famous for very definite reasons.
Qualities of the Best Logos
Without replicating another designer’s brainstorm, there are lessons to be learned (and, arguably, qualities to respect) in famous logos. Consider:
The simplicity of so-called “logotype” logos, which use typography alone, without an integrated graphic element. Think of the Dell logo (with the tilted “e”) and the CNN logo (with the internal line that weaves through all three letters). Microsoft and Disney are other examples of famous logotype logos that many people instantly recognize.
The integration of contrasting colors in logotype logos—an especially tricky proposition when you consider that business owners must consider how their logo will look in black and white reproductions, too. Google, eBay and FedEx have successfully achieved this balance; their logos serve as great examples of those that are instantly recognizable, whether they’re printed in color or black and white.
The originality of the graphic element – perhaps the most difficult leg of any journey down the graphic design highway. There probably isn’t a business owner anywhere who doesn’t wish he or she could mimic the iconic “swish” of Nike or the golden arches of McDonald’s—famous logos that enjoy instant international recognition. In fact, these graphic elements have become so well known that the two companies sometimes use the elements all by themselves (without type). Starbucks, too, has dropped the words “Starbucks Coffee” from its logo because the mermaid siren alone communicates its corporate identity.
The restraint of the graphic element, meaning that it doesn’t overwhelm the name of the company. UPS, Best Buy, Elmer’s and Pizza Hut are companies whose logos became famous because the words and graphics complement each other seamlessly.
Reading between the lines here, you may see that these famous logos share some other important qualities, too: they’re simple, memorable and have stood the test of time. Considering that your company image—and, to some extent, your reputation—depends on the quality of your logo, you want to place its creation or redesign in the hands of skilled professionals.