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What makes a truly great logo design

Pentagram (opens in new tab) partner Michael Bierut has teamed up with Vox.com (opens in new tab)'s Joe Posner to release a short film, 'What makes a truly great logo'.

In the four-minute video, the pair run through four different types of logo design and explain what really makes a design work, as well as why online fights about new logos are misguided.

"It's not the splash you make when you hit the water. It's how long you keep your head above that water," explains Bierut.

Logos are overrated

Repeated discussions about new logo designs are missing the point on what makes logos tick, argue Bierut and Posner

Repeated discussions about new logo designs are missing the point on what makes logos tick, argue Bierut and Posner

"It used to be that if a company was doing a logo, there would be this military operation that would be inscribed on all their equipment, and their aeroplanes, and their retail facilities, and gold pins, and cufflinks would be made for the executive suite and put on spittoons and ashtrays… and on everyone's business cards, right?"

"Nowadays, none of that's as important as an email signature, or your Twitter avatar, or the title thing that sits next to your URL," says Bierut. "Those things are much more ubiquitous. They can be changed at the drop of a hat."

Here's the short film – if you're working with a client who doesn't understand what makes a good logo, maybe point them this way:

Bierut is the designer behind Hillary Clinton's recent logo, and boasts a rich history of wordmarks and iconography in his portfolio.

You can see more of this work on the Pentagram website (opens in new tab), and learn more about his design philsophies in his new book How (opens in new tab).

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Julia Sagar
Julia Sagar

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.