Is there such a thing as the perfect logo? And if so, what makes a logo good, and in contrast, what makes a logo bad? For the most part, people only assess a logo based on its surface-level appearance, preferences, and majority favour.
Some of them are that a logo should:
- Communicate a lot about the company
- Be loved by the stakeholders or employees
- Be beautiful or detailed
But these are not helpful in determining whether a logo is good or bad.
The Absa Group Rebrand
When Absa unveiled its new visual identity in 2018 there were many adverse reactions. See article People Are Tearing Absa’s New Logo To Shreds. Some cited the logo as being generic by comparing it to the Open Serve logo. While others said that it reminded them of the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System).
These reactions can be seen as amusing, insightful, or cynical. But people are of course entitled to their opinions, which unfortunately for Absa seemed underwhelming at the time. Over time, either due to the loss of novelty or familiarity of the new logo it has moved out of all our minds.
What makes a good Logo?
We simply need to ask 3 questions, namely is this logo simple, suitable and memorable?
Is the logo simple?
Sagi Haviv is a New York-based graphic designer and a partner in the design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. They have designed some of the world’s most iconic logos – The US Open, National Geographic and NBC, and many more! Sagi points out that a logo is not communication, it’s identification.
A logo is the period at the end of the sentence. Not the sentence itself.Sagi Haviv
The less a logo says about a company, the better. For someone who has never seen or heard of National Geographic, it would mean nothing. It’s only a yellow rectangle! Through using the logo again and again we have built powerful associations with the brand. This is a perfect example of how the logo is a vehicle for the brand identity rather than the final word.
The logo insignia also needs to be simple so that it is still clear when made very small. For example in the tabs of a web browser. When unnecessary detail is added in order to communicate more about the brand it will result in a bad logo design.
The challenge is always to peel back the layers and arrive at the simple essence of the brand.
Is the logo suitable?
Or appropriate. I.e. core personality Bold & Dynamic. Refined & Sophisticated.
Preferences i.e. I don’t like red or sharp corners. Meaningless. Instant reactions.
Hating a logo at first. Familiarity changes relationships to it. Distinctive silhouette. While everything (media) changes the logo is what ties brand associations together (from past and into the future).
Note on client expertise and our expertise about what makes a good logo is a good intersection. Does not help to put it in front of more faces especially consumers. That is not how you test a good logo.
Is the logo memorable?
. Could someone see it once or twice and then doodle it or describe it? How unique can we make it while still being uncomplicated and becoming generic? A bad logo is generic. More difficult as time goes on as more and more designs are created.
The point of a logo is to endure the test of time.
Perfect logo. Absa. Our Logos.