The Best Logos Embrace Simplicity


Logos are the most recognizable part of a company’s branding. They’re often designed to be simple, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to have meaning or evoke emotion.

The logo types have to be unique is a common saying. It means that the logos of different companies should be different from each other.


Choosing the appropriate logo is frequently the most difficult aspect of establishing a business. It’s the one thing that distinguishes you from the competition. It’s the pinnacle of how you should seem. Right?

No, it’s not true.

Businesses often whip themselves up into a frenzy in an attempt to create the next Mona Lisa with their brand. What happens in the end? Instead of being a basic and concise symbol, the logo becomes too complex. Without a doubt, your logo will be the driving force behind your branding initiatives. However, it’s just one part of the branding and marketing jigsaw.

Take a look at some of the most well-known brands. Consider Apple, Nike, and Google.

What is the one thing that all of these brands have in common? They’re straightforward. These logos serve as simple sign-offs for some of the world’s most impactful statements.

How come the most straightforward logos are nearly often the most effective? This is why.

Also see: 4 Reasons to Brand Your Company

A basic logo gives you a more professional appearance.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.14.13 PMTake a look at the logo on the right: when we see anything like this, we all shudder.

When it comes to our own logo, though, we think:

My logo should be able to communicate everything. And by committing to having our logo say everything, we wind up with a jumbled-up mess that communicates nothing at all.

Worse, a complex, over-designed logo communicates that you’re a tiny business, and that you may have hired your neighbor’s nephew to design the logo for an art project. Potential consumers will be turned off by logos with all the “bells and whistles,” thinking, “Geez, this company must be just getting started.”

In a digital world, a simple logo is preferable.

In paper, complicated logos are bad enough. However, they’re a nightmare in the digital world—especially if someone is browsing your website on a mobile phone.

What’s great about the digital world is how flexible and fluid it is. But the fact that you have so little power in this setting is irritating. Create a basic logo that can stand out in an ever-changing digital world to offer yourself a leg up.

Also available as a free download: Branding Checklist: 10 Essentials Before Launch.

More artistic expression is possible with a basic logo.

This is the polar opposite of what you’d expect.

We tell ourselves, “I’m going to prove to the world that my company has genuine style.” As a result, we cram our logo with swirls and symbols that create a complex image.

We might be a beauty shop and say to ourselves, “Wow, my haircuts are so transformational that my customers come in looking like a caterpillar and leave looking like a butterfly.” Eureka! A butterfly poised atop a mane of disheveled hair should be my logo.

Even by itself, the image is unappealing. Assume you’re designing a flier for a Labor Day event. You’ve got pictures and boxes full of vital information. However, when you add your butterfly logo, your message becomes hidden under a tangle of hair.

I’m a little exaggerating here. But you see where I’m going with this.

Consider Nike and the ads they’ve run in the past. Their basic emblem is a strong anchor to a fascinating commercial when they show the poster of the basketball player flying in the air.

A simple logo appeals to a larger audience.


Symbols may convey a lot of information. They are the global language in which we all communicate.

However, a sign may mean one thing to one individual and another entirely different thing to another. We all have a lifetime of cumulative experiences that influence our perceptions of the visual world.

A basic logo with well-crafted typography and a subtle mark has a far higher chance of appealing to a wider audience. Consider how successful the Target logo has been. You know it’s Target as soon as you see the bullseye. That is the simplicity’s strength.

Consider the many well-known companies that lack a trademark. Examples include Gap, Nordstrom, and Google. The goal of these logos is to appeal to a wide range of people. These businesses realized that adopting a mark would limit the brand’s performance in the marketplace.

Also see our Business Branding Guide.

A simple logo may go a long way.


Let’s return to our friends at Apple, the undisputed kings of simplicity.

They had to rethink their logo as well. The original rainbow-colored logo was much too complicated. So, over time, the Apple branding team honed the logo to what it is now: a breath of fresh air. It’s so simple, yet it’s so unique.

That isn’t to suggest that a brand with a more ornamental symbol won’t be successful. Starbucks did a fantastic job with its mermaid. However, a few years ago, they had to revisit their logo to improve and simplify it.

So make your life easy by simplifying your logo. Your workers, customers, suppliers, and everyone else who comes into touch with your logo will be grateful.

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