Seven principles of logo design
Just do it!
Nike is one the most successful brands. This is in no small part due to it’s unique swoosh logo and tag line, Just do it. In 1971, Carolyn Davidson was a graphic design student, looking for a side project to raise a bit of cash. A professor at her university, who later founded Nike, asked her to design a logo for an athletic shoe. She agreed and came up with the swoosh, a fluid tick shape signifying movement and speed. Carolyn only charged $35, based on an hourly rate of $2. Despite her professor suggesting he was not that keen on her design, it became one of the most famous logos ever. The tagline, Just do it, also has a noteworthy genesis. They were the last words of serial killer Gary Gilmore, before his execution.
Logo design principles
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo da Vinci
Whether fair or not, we often judge a book by its cover. Value is perception. Logos help trigger memories of how we felt encountering them.
The principles of great logo design, include:
Simple: The simplest solution is often the most effective.
Relevant: Appropriate for the business it identifies. Humour often works, but not for funeral directors.
Durable: A visual identity should have longevity. Current crazes may seem appealing, but we should resist in favour of things that won’t go out of fashion.
Distinctive: Be recognisable. The outline, alone, should be striking.
Memorable: An opportunity to grab attention may be constrained to a passing glance. We want the viewer’s experience to be such that they will remember it.
Scalable: The logo must remain clear and legible when scaled down to about one square inch (2.5cm).
Focused: Incorporate one key feature. This helps the design stand out.
There are parallels in what characterises a great logo and a great product name. As Alexandra Watkins suggests, names should make us SMILE. Suggestive with Meaning that creates Imagery, has Legs to evolve and makes us feel positive Emotion.
Principles in practice
Design is so simple. That’s why it is so complicated. – Paul Rand
We can see each of the design principles in the Nike swoosh logo:
Simple: The swoosh is a single flowing shape, shown in one colour or a tone of grey.
Relevant: The fluid tick shape signifies movement and speed.
Durable: The swoosh was first used in 1971 so has endured for over 50 years.
Distinctive: Few could mistake the design for something else.
Memorable: Once seen, it is difficult to forget.
Scalable: The simple shape works well at many levels of granularity.
Focused: It aligns with a single idea.
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Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future. I agree with Robert Peters. That is why design is important.