What makes a logo ‘great’?

So what are the attributes of a great logo or mark? We think it boils down to five simple things:

1. Distinctive.
The design idea need not be unique in the world, just distinctive enough so you can “own” it in your particular sector.

2. Practical.
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.)

3. Graphic.
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.)

5. Appropriate.
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)