Logo Design Theory

Logo design is in many ways the holy grail of graphic design. It’s the one area where there are no rules, no boundaries, and no restrictions about what you can do. You’re in total control of your art. Your only boundaries are your imagination and the laws of physics. There’s nothing quite like it.

Great logos do two things exceedingly well: They synthesize the most essential elements of a company or brand into a single memorable image, and they make that image unique from any other logo. Those are the basics — let’s dig deeper.

There are a lot of articles on the web that attempt to explain logo design theory. Most of them seem to only scratch the surface and I can’t help but feel they are missing the bigger picture.

In this article, I will try to cover everything in as much detail as possible. You may not agree with everything I say, but I am sure you will find something useful.

A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message. A concept or “meaning” is usually behind an effective logo, and it communicates the intended message visually, essentially encapsulating the brand’s essence into one symbol.


This is probably the most important element because if your logo can’t be distinguished from your competition then what’s the point? It should clearly stand out from other brands in a similar market. If people can’t tell you apart from your competitors then they may just go with another company that has a memorable logo.


A great logo should fit your business model. This is probably an obvious statement but so many logos out there fail at this simple task. Your logo should be appropriate for your target market and demographics.

The principles of design are an important aspect of a logo. The following is a list of the fundamental principles of design:

  1. Alignment
  2. Balance
  3. Contrast
  4. Emphasis
  5. Movement
  6. Proportion
  7. Repetition and Rhythm
  8. Unity

A logo is the face of any brand — the very first impression — so its design is extremely important. When done right, a good logo has the power to communicate your brand’s essence more than any amount of words.

You can’t just throw a cool font and some colours together and call it a day. A great logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message.

The following are some of the most important design principles to keep in mind when designing your next logo:

Keep it simple. Simple logos are easily recognizable, versatile, effective at any size and memorable. They allow for easy recognition and allow the logo to be versatile & memorable. Good logos feature something unexpected or unique without being overdrawn.

Use shape to create interest. Shape allows you to create visual interest in a logo without using colour or typefaces. Think about using shapes that are relevant to what your company does. For example, squares are commonplace in technology companies, while circles can make brands feel friendly and approachable. The same shape can also have different meanings depending on how it’s used in your logo — circles can be associated with unity and community as well as wholeness and infinity while triangles can represent stability.

The most effective logos are usually simple and memorable. But sometimes when companies try to get too creative, it can backfire (cough, cough). Simplicity is king in logo design, but nonetheless, you may find that having a decent amount of creativity helps set your brand apart from the competition. So the next time you sit down to make a logo, consider using simplicity with just a dash of creativity.

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