The effectiveness of a logo is hinged on ability to be remembered. The memorability of a logo walks a thin line between familiarity and uniqueness with an image that is simple enough to easily recall and unusual enough to persist in one’s mind. The best logos are easily remembered after being seen and recognized when seen again.
To see the power of memorability in action, consider the following brand names: Apple, Facebook, Nike... Images of their logos came to mind, didn’t they? I would wager you also instantly recognized the Coca-Cola brand in the cover image of this post despite the absence of their logo.
After careful consideration of the top brands of the world and the history of logo design, we have compiled the steps to facilitate a memorable logo design:
- Make it meaningful.
- Do something different.
- Be clear.
- Keep it simple.
1. Make it meaningful.
Visual metaphors, a play on words, and symbolism provide greater impact, making them more likely to be recognized and remembered. Additionally, color, fonts, shapes, and imagery each carry distinct psychological associations. Memorable logos effectively use these tools to their advantage when engaging potential customers.
This topic is discussed in greater detail in our previous post, Principles of Effective Logo Design: Appropriate (Part I).
2. Do something different.
In order for a logo to be remembered, it must be unique. Logos exist to provide distinction. A distinct logo will make your business stand out in your industry.
Beware of visual clichés. The Apple logo could have easily looked like a piece of clip art without the distinct bite taken out. Consider the following logo examples of the HVAC industry. No one will remember an image that has been used for a hundred other companies. It is indistinct, generic, and forgettable. Thorough research is essential in producing distinct logo designs. Failure to do so may result in confusion between businesses, even legal trouble down the road.
Notice how distinctly different the top HVAC companies have designed their logos, influencing their success. Which group of businesses would you be most likely to trust?
The most memorable logos are custom-created and unlike any existing business, especially that of a competitor.
3. Be clear.
A logo that is easy to understand is easiest to remember. This requires a coherent, intelligent, and thoughtfully created design with a single point of emphasis. A quick test to determine the clarity of a logo is to ask: "Can you easily describe the logo and its components? Can you draw it from memory?" (More on this thought below)
4. Keep it simple.
Simplicity = memorability.
With such a high volume of competition and such a short attention span of customers, simplicity lays the foundation for memorability. If you can’t instantly recognize a logo on a billboard driving at 70 MPH, it’s a failure. This is the harsh reality of logo design. Potential customers shouldn’t have to - and won’t - take time to study, interpret, and struggle to understand or recall your business. Effective logos are memorable at a glance, and a glance is likely all you will get.
This topic will be discussed in greater detail in our next post, Principles of Effective Logo Design: Simple (Part III).
The Best of the Best
A misstep in any of the items above can critically impair the effectiveness of your logo design. In a recent study, Branded in Memory, participants struggled to recall even the most memorable, highly marketed, and well-known logos of all time. Check out some of the drawings below.
The results, while undeniably comical, provide further emphasis on the necessity of meaningful, distinct, clear, and simple logo design. If we struggle to remember the logos of these brands, how much more difficult is it to remember a logo that is haphazard, indistinct, incoherent, or overly-detailed?
"The first lesson of branding: memorability. It’s very difficult buying something you can’t remember."
— John Hegarty