4 Common Traits of Iconic Logos


A logo is a visual representation of everything that a brand stands for. It’s all of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions that represent a company, wrapped up into a single symbol or design that can be used to identify it at a moment’s notice. You can see why companies spend millions of dollars perfecting their image.

Oh, hey Rogers. I almost didn’t recognize you for a second.

So what makes a memorable logo? What are the characteristics that make up a great logo? Is it shape? Color choice? A great tagline? Here are a few common characterstics amongst some of the biggest brands in the world:

1. It’s Simple and Distinct

A classic logo is one that it is easily recognizable and simplicity plays a huge role in this. If I asked you to describe the logos of some the world’s most iconic brands like McDonald’s, Ford or Nike, you could probably do it in no time at all. That’s because the are simple and unique. A great logo is streamlined down to as few lines as possible to make it easy to distinguish amongst other brands.

2. It’s Versatile

Being able to identify a logo in various media is hugely important. A good logo works well in black & white and also in gray scale. Since logos appear in many different places, sizes and forms including packaging, the web, clothing, billboards, etc., an iconic logo needs to have the same impact whether it is printed on the side of a pen or the side of a bus. It should also be adaptable to different materials, whether that’s on paper, embroidery, or laser etched into the moon.

You know Apple is working on this right now.

3. It’s Appropriate

A logo reflects a company’s culture and values. In order to know who your business is targeting, you’re going to need to do some serious research in order to develop a clear image of who your dream customers are. That’s where your business personas come in. Once you’ve determined who these people are, you can begin reflecting your brand values in a way that resonates with them.

4. It’s Timeless

This can be easier said than done. Truly iconic logos are the ones that don’t succumb to the trends of the week. Trends come and go, and although brands are constantly evolving and tweaking their image, it’s the ones who stay true who usually solidify themselves as the trend setters. We like to joke about Apple, but they are a classic example. Their logo has undergone a series of tweaks to update it over time, but that same classic Apple symbol has stuck since 1976.

Let’s be realistic. Not every business has tens of millions to throw at a wordmark to see if a slightly darker shade of blue results in a 3% increase in revenues, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be diligent when developing your visual identity. For more information on what makes a great brand check out our article on The 3 Imperative B’s of Branding.

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