Skip to main content

The 12 rules of logo design

They may look simple but don't be fooled into thinking logo design (opens in new tab) is an easy task. As these leading designers explain, there's a lot you need to take into account in order to design the perfect logo...

01. Logos need to scale

NME logo

The simplicity of the new logo for NME magazine helps it scale well

"A great logo has a subtle but interesting visual hook, accompanied by considered typography. And most of all, it should be equally compelling whether it's scaled to 10mm or 10 metres." - Paula Benson, founding partner, Form (opens in new tab)

02. Think about the context

"A logo encapsulates a brand, and reflects what it stands for. But it doesn't live on its own. It's encompassed by a coherent identity system, and flanked by other design elements, such as typography, colour, photography and tone of voice. For me, that's the main difference between identification and identity." - Gabor Schreier, executive creative director, Saffron Consultants (opens in new tab)

03. Ditch the tricks

"The right blend of timeless simplicity is key to the longevity of any design. As a rule, the more wrapped up a design is in tricks and stylistic trappings, the shorter its expiration date will be." - Bill Gardner, LogoLounge (opens in new tab)

04. Keep it simple

"A great logo must be unique, with a clear and simple message. It should have personality, and create a reaction in the viewer. If you can't say it in a simple way, it's better not to say it." - Ariel de Lisio, graphic designer, Negro Nouveau (opens in new tab)

05. Try bespoke typography

Cadbury logo

The distinctive type of the Cadbury logo is instantly recognisable and memorable

"Bespoke type is a really great way to establish a tone of voice, becasue no-one else can use that type. Yes, it's expensive, but not as expensive as it used to be." - Michael Johnson, creative director and principle, johnson banks (opens in new tab)

06. It's a personal affair

"A perfect logo can't exist without great content. A logo can only reach perfection if its audience has a strong enough relationship with the brand's content, personality or voice. If that relationship between consumer and brand is strong enough, the logo is either celebrated and encouraged, or is so subtle and confident that it's rarely seen." - Bob Sanderson, founder, Sanderson Bob (opens in new tab)

07. Go vector

"Keep it simple. Too much detail will make a logo feel cluttered and vague. If it's not easily remembered, the whole point of the logo is lost. And always create it as a vector – that way size will never be a problem." - Anneli Olander, freelance illustrator (opens in new tab)

08. Personality counts

ITV logo

Whatever you think of it, you can't deny the ITV logo has personality

"Some key ingredients are obvious: great type, scalability, agility across various situations, and of course relevance to the brand that it represents. We also adore logos with personality, that have a certain 'a-ha' moment: something that's clever, surprising and ties all the rest of it together." - Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk, EightHourDay (opens in new tab)

09. Versatility wins

"The perfect logo is versatile. It reads in seconds, and is memorable. It's equally comfortable on a business card or a billboard, and reads in black-and-white even if a colour version is primarily used. The best logos can also show two separate ideas or symbols simultaneously." - Ronald J. Cala II, creative director, CMYK Magazine (opens in new tab)

10. Be incisive and innovative

"I really don't think there's an ultimate answer to this question. A logo should be incisive and innovative; remarkable, unique and surprising. With this as a starting point, almost everything is allowed. There are no particular rules. To be perfect, it just has to communicate the things you want to say in the best possible way. Unfortunately, that's always the hardest part." - Till Wiedeck, HelloMe (opens in new tab)

11. Anything goes...

"Received wisdom is that the perfect logo is square or slightly rectangular, and works in black and white. But I think the rules have been broken now, and it's virtually anything goes. TV companies understood that logos didn't have to be static way back in the 1980s: Channel 4's logo literally blew itself apart in its first iteration." - Michael Johnson, creative director and principle, johnson banks (opens in new tab)

12. ... but learn the rules

"When I was a college student in the early 80s I called up the great Saul Bass one day and asked if I could pay him a visit. He kindly agreed to see me, and I sat there in awe of this man, bombarding him with questions on what the secret of design was, what magic formulae he used to create all of his great work. After a while he stopped me mid-flow and yelled 'Bill, there are no secrets! You just got to learn how to do it'. That's my attitude to logo design. There are no secrets and no tricks – it's about learning how to do it properly." - Bill Gardner, LogoLounge (opens in new tab)

Thanks to Leandro Castelao (opens in new tab) via Dutch Uncle (opens in new tab) for the illustration, as seen in Computer Arts Projects issue 135.

Like this? Read these!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.