No matter where you’re at in your career as a graphic designer, the basic principles of logo design are relatively the same. But, it takes more than a screamin’ fast Mac and all the Adobe software (yes that was a shameless plug) money can buy to create a successful mark. It’s important to have a good foundation in typography, sketching, color and knowing what to research.

A successful logo should also last longer than those leftovers in your fridge. It should engage the audience, perhaps giving them the chance to see something new they didn’t see the first time (FedEx arrow?). It should also provide some sort of instant identification and quickly describe what the company is about. The following is a list that I compiled as a design student at CSUF for things that I still consider today when designing a logo.

1. Visibility

Does the mark stand out and provide a fast ID.

2. Application

How well can mark used on a variety of media applications? Print, web, video projector. With HD and retina displays, designers are pushing the envelope with detail in logo design. Just be mindful of all media platforms and find a comfort zone.

3. Distinctive

stand out

Does the mark distinguish itself from competitors or other brand-similar marks?

4. Simplicity

This is my favorite principle. Is the symbolism of the mark easy to identify. Try not to over-think/overwork. Often times more can be said by showing less.

5. Retention

A thought provoking mark gives a viewer a sense of discovery. They’ll be more likely to tell someone else about it if they’re discovering its meaning.

6. Color


Start out in black and white. Introduce color once it starts looking good. Instantly thinking about color can sometimes limit your creativity, unless a specific color lends itself to the mission, description, or beliefs of the company. Despite the times and current trends, stay away from subtle color variations and gradients that may not reproduce well.

7. Descriptive

Does the mark describe something about the company/product? Good examples are not perfectly literal but they are clear.

8. Timeless

In today’s world, it seems logos don’t last more than about 5 years. To give your logo a little more life expectancy, try to avoid the current logo trends. There’s a reason they’re called trends (Web 2.0 anyone?)

9. Cohesiveness

repeating lines

Do all of the parts of the logo work together? Keep in mind the supporting typography or other elements. They should combine nicely to form a single structure.

10. Equity

A brand and its mark are worth something. Think Coca-Cola or Apple. It’s important to know when it’s appropriate to make a change. If a client asks you to redesign their logo, you may want to consider carrying over elements from their existing logo, like colors, shapes, or type.