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Article: Elements of a Strong Logo

Fact is, your business logo does some pretty heavy lifting in the marketplace. It's the graphical face of a business. A recognizable touchstone. It has to be right.

A strong logo is rooted in simplicity and graphical strength.

A well-designed logo is clean and quickly embraced visually. Complex illustrations are not strong logos.

A well-designed logo is easy to use. Simple and bold enough for multiple applications and situations—small or confined sizes, monotone/black and white usage, low resolution environments. Computer software makes it easy to do fades, gradients, drop shadows and other cute and funky effects, but avoid them. Adding such complexity cuts down on the versatility and effective usage range of your logo and increases the chances it will print or display ugly.

A well-designed logo is long-lived. Evergreen. Not slaved graphically to a current trend in typeface or style.

A well-designed logo doesn't try to do too much; represent too many things. Sometimes you can hit on something that graphically nails the essence of your company (like the FedEx Home Delivery pooch), but for companies with more complex and diverse offerings, that won't happen. Avoid the temptation to over-stuff and over-reach. In such cases, either choose the dominant element/feature of the company to represent graphically (New Holland), go with a non-specific graphic bug (the Purina checkerboard; Nike Swoosh), or stick with a tweaked type-only approach (Ping. Ford. Disney).

—Michael Waite;