You know a cool logo when you see one. As you create a logo for your own business, though, you need to know what makes a logo cool.
Cool logos are simple. Cool logos are memorable; they tattoo themselves on viewers’ brains. Cool logos are inevitably ingenious; they inspire people to think, “Isn’t that just so clever.” Cool logos are functional; they reinforce what the companies do and how they do it. Cool logos use one color exceptionally well, usually in contrast with white; everybody recognizes “Dodger blue,” “UCLA Bruin blue,” and “Home Depot Orange.” Cool logos typically use just one word or one icon; a logo-designer must resist the temptation to over-work a corporate signature.
Everybody recognizes the famous Coco-Cola logo, and most people know the legend behind it. As the story goes, a secretary doodled the new soft drink’s name on the margin of a notepad; the distinctive signature does not differ very much from the secretary’s own careful script. Emblazoned in white against a trademarked shade of red, the logo is the world’s most recognized; and it is no accident that it represents the world’s best-selling soft drink. The distinctive logo may not satisfy all the post-modern standards of “cool,” but it does meet the requirements for effectiveness.
Similarly, everybody recognizes the rainbow apple with the bite out of it. Apple Computer’s logo effectively represents its brand, and its ingenious allusions to Eve’s and Newton’s revolutions suggest Apple products have the capacity to change the world—a little arrogant at the time the logo first appeared, but absolutely appropriate in historical terms. Moreover, the Apple logo meets the standards for “cool.” In fact, it still is cool enough that people stick it to the rear windows of their cars, right next to stickers for their favorite surfgear and the colleges they attend.
These four logos and other designs on their designers’ web-pages exemplify logo design principles skillfully applied to representation of corporate identities…
“Crazy Croc” by James Strange
The company and its customers love this logo, because it captures the brand’s unorthodox style without overplaying it. The logo’s color defies the design standard for “vivid,” but its defiance guarantees its distinction and reinforces the brand’s distinction. Most of all, it juxtaposes cute and weathered, as if its youthful look has a time-honored tradition behind it. Crazy Croc, in fact, has stolen a page from the Abercrombie playbook, making an all-new brand look durable and venerable. When “cute” meets “venerable,” you know you have a winner.
“Handsmade” by nocturne.ro
A famous philosopher told his colleagues to look for answers to life’s mysteries in obvious places. Nocturne applied that notion in its design for “handsmade,” a company that promotes hand-made goods. Pictured in three different versions, the minor variations show the communicative power of the hands. The first version suggests kid-friendly products and applications; the second version suggests care and tenderness, presumably in the products’ design and craftsmanship; and the third version implies collaboration, presumably among artisans and marketers, also between marketers and customers. Obviously, the best logos qualify as fine works of modern art, because their symbolic suggestions matter as much as their fine-lined execution.
“The Little Big Company” by nido
In the Internet age, small companies frequently can out-perform corporate giants because they are nimble, responsive, innovative, and exceptionally motivated. If a company looks too small, though, would-be clients will shy away, because they fear “small” is a synonym for unprofessional, disorganized, and unreliable. A small company, then, faces the challenge to project an image of size and power. Nido’s “Little Big Company” logo captures the idea both cleverly and exactly.
“Genius” by Jan Zabransky
Jan Zabransky clearly has mastered the principle of elegance: In her best, most distinctive logos, she uses just enough of just the right stuff. In her cleverest and most engaging logs, she works the “text-only solution” to perfection, cleverly manipulating single words to reinforce her clients’ brand identities. The “Genius” logo leaves its signature by virtue of its simple black-and-white design and its ingenious reinforcement of everybody’s sense that genius is unorthodox, unconventional, and a little bit strange. Simply flipping the white all-caps “GENIUS” upside-down on its black background, Zabransky also reminds viewers that brilliant minds can render overwhelmingly complex ideas in extremely simple terms—exactly what the company does for its customers.
As you create your own cool logo for your own cutting-edge business or product, focus on keeping it simple, making it unforgettable, and building-in cleverness. You do that in your everyday work. How hard can it be to do it in your logo?
Avery Petersen a small business consultant, helps companies find the right branding strategy to make them stand out in a crowd. Finding a logo designer that can make this happen is very important.