So what are the attributes of a great logo or mark? We think it boils down to five simple things:
The design idea need not be unique in the world, just distinctive enough so you can “own” it in your particular sector.
Can be printed small, in ink or pixels; works in black on white as well as in colors; works in reverse too, white on black. (Faces, human or animal, usually flunk this last test; the eyes turn white.)
Communicates purely in visual terms, to the right brain hemisphere; doesn’t depend on verbal, intellectual interpretation. (Example: Tenneco seriously considered and rejected a “10ECO” logo design. Clever, but it’s not a mark, it’s a pun.) If you’re using a wordmark, it can be recognized by form alone (you don’t have to “read” Coca-Cola’s logo more than once or twice).
4. Simple in form.
Contains only one graphic idea, one gimmick, one dingbat. Thus if there’s a symbol, the accompanying name is plain and unadorned. And if it is a wordmark, one idea or device makes it special – like IBM’s stripes. (The more unique the name, the simpler the graphics can be.)
In the end, of course, the content’s got to be right. An otherwise-great mark fails if the reputation, positioning, and personality expressed are at odds with leadership and brand intentions.
(adapted from ideas set forth by Tony Spaeth)