Of all the design categories we’ve worked with over the years, simple logos are the designs that are favored by most designers, but the most difficult to ‘sell’ to clients, especially when dealing with the end user. Many clients are looking for perceived value in the logo design process, and want a finished product that looks as of a lot of time was invested. A ‘bang for the buck’ kind of mentality. It’s been our experience that simple logo proposals are often dismissed as looking like clip art (ironically, extremely simple logos are often the most difficult to develop).
Sometimes it’s a short-sighted approach. Many of the most memorable logos are simple, uncluttered designs that work because of their simplicity, not despite it. Trying to put simple simple logos into a definition we’d use terms like “staid”, “solid”, and “clean”. Over the years however, the delineation between simple corporate logos and their more complicated counterparts has blurred, and with the advent of a Web 2.0 mindset, it’s difficult to define what a simple logo actually is, often being boiled down to ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ One way to see examples of simple logos is to view the corporate identities used by most of the top ten Fortune 500 companies. Most of these are simple, clean logos that are usually text logos and if an icon is used, it’s used sparingly and features a ruthlessly simple and linear style.
At The Logo Factory®, simple logo design treatments are usually requested by companies that are trying to brand under a flag of stability – banks and accounting firms for example – and wish to avoid cute visual cliches and overused woo-hoo graphics that become dated in a relatively short time. As these designs avoid trends and fads, simple logos have the longest shelf-life and appeal to the widest market possible – extremely important for companies that are concerned about general population demographics. From a technical point of view, simple logos are usually the easiest to reproduce and are infinitely adaptable for every media imaginable (see our file format reference guide for all the possible variations – simple logos can usually be converted into every file format without much bother). These logos are instantly recognizable, even at the smallest sizes (important when using your logo as a social media avatar). There are a few downsides to a simple logo. It’s difficult to develop a truly unique brand, trademarking your logo may be an issue, and it’s only through repeated exposure of the mark will it gain any traction.
That’s not to say you need to throw war and peace at your corporate logo – you don’t – but the concept of a simple logo can be quite misleading. It’s not just slapping a piece of nondescript art together with rudimentary type work. Far from it. Take a look at the Oxford Coalition logo we’ve placed at the top of the page. It appears fairly illustrative, but is actually very minimalist, and was created by our designers using a series of very basic shapes. See, simple logos are often the most difficult to design, it takes a fairly skilled designer, with the ability to develop sophisticated logo design ideas, to pare down complex concepts into a few graphic shapes.
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