How To Create Iconic Logos – Guide & Examples
The biggest brands probably have the most iconic logos.
Logos that you will recognise anywhere.
Logos you can’t seem to forget.
Take Amazon, for instance. It looks relatively ordinary, right? Just the company name in black with a stroke of yellow at the bottom.
Although that’s not how it started out, it tells so much more about the current Amazon.
The yellow stroke is a smile that represents customers’ happiness the company aims for.
If you look closely, it also looks like an arrow going ‘from A to Z’ – meaning they’ve got everything you need.
All it takes is a little creativity, dedication and knowing what you want. Here’s how you can create your own iconic logos to grow your brand.
Iconic Logos in the 21st century
The fundamental difference between an ordinary drawing and a logo is the usage.
Logos play a critical role in a business. It is a direct marketing technique that, if done well, can benefit the company significantly.
Using a logo is quite an ancient method. But making one doesn’t have to be.
The advent of digital art has created a pathway for all designers to benefit from technology.
Using a graphics tablet or other digital drawing apps lets you use various tools to make your design better and more unique.
For beginners, do some research first.
Creating a good logo is an integral part of branding.
If you don’t know much about it, it’s best to do some research. There are two crucial things you should know before you start.
First, there are five primary types that almost all logos fall in – wordmark, letter mark (or monogram), brand mark, combination mark or emblem – learn about them.
More than knowing what each type requires, look for examples.
Amazon uses a wordmark logo. Find a few examples of each type and study the company backgrounds, what they represent, etc. You will find a lot of interesting connections.
Next, these are qualities of iconic logos accepted by most experts – simple, relevant, timeless, versatile, and memorable.
For this, you should use the reverse method.
Don’t just learn the qualities and include them in your logo. Instead, create your design and then check if they have these qualities.
If they don’t, see how you can modify it to match.
Once you have gone through the theory, here are some simple steps to get started.
1 – Know the brand
When you learn about types of logos, look for famous logos and how they convey the image the company had in mind.
Now before you design yours, know what your company needs.
Even if you are planning to design just a letter or an image, there should be a clear message that it portrays.
You have to study the business and the brand to create a relevant logo design.
You can also categorise the brand by the industry and how it serves customers.
This will give you an idea of what is expected of the brand.
For example, people do not expect fun and creativity from an insurance company. They expect reliability and trust.
You can use these as the basis of the design. Use colours and shapes that convey that idea.
2 – Decide your type
You don’t have to stick to predefined styles, even if you know them.
However, knowing what you want can make it easier for you.
If you are not sure at all, you can always keep a few options open.
You can start with a wordmark, and if it seems too large, you can switch to a letter mark logo.
Also, in this case, consider where the logo will go.
Eventually, as the business expands, it will be used more widely. But initially, you need to make sure what it would look like on packaging or as a hoarding.
3 – Pick the right tools.
You can always use a pencil and paper if you don’t have anything else around.
But you will be surprised at how much more you can do with digital art now.
If you already own a tab, get a good stylus – Wacom has some excellent ones that are compatible with most tablets.
If you have an iPad, you can get an Apple Pencil.
If you are designing on a laptop, get a graphics tablet.
There are two types – with and without a screen.
Both are great once you learn how to use them.
If you are beginner and unsure if you should make a substantial investment, there are quite a few affordable ones that are pretty high quality.
If you don’t consider yourself creative enough, there are apps to help you.
There are several apps for logo making that you can even use on your phone (or tab, of course).
There are both free and paid versions with the latter offering more features.
Most of them don’t cost a lot, so it may be worth getting the premium version.
4 – Colours and shapes are important.
If you have any experience with art, you would already know just how much a colour palette matters.
Here it would help if you considered the business.
Notice how the Pizza Hut, KFC, and Burger King logo designs all have some red?
That is because red, yellow, orange and such warm colours are appealing in terms of food.
Even plenty of restaurants colour their walls yellow or red, for the same reason.
There are psychological implications behind colours – something you should also research.
As a general rule, round shapes tend to convey a positive message, whereas rectangular or triangular shapes symbolise power and strength.
This may vary depending on the whole logo, but you can start with these ideas.
Don’t just imagine it in your head; make multiple versions.
5 – Be consistent
If the logo includes words, do not use too many fonts. Two fonts, at most, are sufficient. One is even better.
Intricate designs are not for logos.
They will make it clumsy and awkward to recall or even recognise at times. People need to remember and understand the logo easily.
It would help if you also remembered this when using colours. It is best to use a single colour or two to four shades of the same colour.
You can use multiple colours, but they should form a combination, for example, VIBGYOR or rainbow colours.
6 – Now see if it fits the bill.
Finally, when you have a design ready, check if it has the qualities mentioned above.
You can’t instantly know if it is timeless or memorable – that is something others will decide.
But you can be sure of the rest. See if it is simple and conveys a direct message. Is that what you wanted your customers to see? Great, you’re done!
Some testing tactics that can help
- Get a friend or a stranger to analyse the logo. Do not tell them anything about the business. Ask them to guess what the company does. If they can infer something relevant but not exact, you are on the right track.
- You can also get someone to figure out the meaning behind the logo. For example, you can tell them what the business is and let them figure out the message the company is trying to convey. This might not have positive results every time – most people are not that good at analysing – but it will give you a perspective on your design.
- Whatever you design the logo for, check if it can be scaled. Even if you start with a logo just for the office hoarding or visiting cards, eventually they might end up in other places. It would be best if you made sure resizing does not ruin the design altogether.
- Check if it is proportionate. Try drawing a square rectangle or circle around it. You can make it disproportionate on purpose, but uniformity is generally appealing to the eyes (it’s not an OCD thing).
- You should also check if the logo looks the same in black and white as it does in colour. Even if it doesn’t look the same, it should still be able to send the same message. This may not work for all logos, but it is a good way of knowing how durable the design is.
Should all Brands have Iconic Logos?
You can make your logo as attractive as you want. But if it doesn’t stick in people’s memories, it won’t be much of a success.
Also, it is difficult to make a unique logo now that every business, product, and service have logos of their own – there are too many in the world.
So please don’t go overboard with trying to make it unique. Start by making it simple and then give it a few twists.
Just keep these tips in mind and get the opinions of as many people as you can – you can use the criticism too.
Who knows, it might be your logo that makes your company a household name!
5 Iconic Logos – Why They Work and How to Make Your Own
Without logos, we’d be stuck reading every single label and description to see if the product is any good.
A logo is a sign that ‘it is’. Or that it isn’t good—but let’s stay on the bright side of things.
Think of a logo as a wedding ring: it has to show what it stands for, convince you, represent a good match.
It’s something you give your clients, and they are proud to show off to everyone who did—and didn’t—ask.
Any designer can tell you about the basics of good logo design.
They have to be unique, scalable, simple and work well even in monochrome. That gives you a framework to work within, but you also want to stand out.
Luckily, you can follow these standard rules and still find your brand’s identity along the way.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the most iconic logos to this day, what makes them strong, and what you can learn from that. After that, we will give you some tips to make your own iconic logos.
The story behind one, if not the most recognised logo designs ever made, is quite an unexpected one.
First of all, it comes from Greek mythology. Not as shocking, right? But, it was designed and sold for a mere $35. Now, that ought to hurt.
The brand’s name comes from the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The swoosh we all know so well mimics the wing of this goddess, combined with Nike’s brand traits: speed and agility.
It also resembles a checkmark, a ticked box. ‘Just do it’ becomes ‘you did it’, just by looking at the logo.
It’s a simple way of symbolising reinforcement and positivity.
Lesson 1: Iconic logos can be recreated by hand, off memory
Even though not many people would have been able to come up with the logo without any knowledge of Greek mythology and Nike’s brand traits, nowadays anyone can draw the Nike logo, eyes closed even.
It’s easy to remember, which makes it adequate to be stored in our long-term memory.
Are you looking at making iconic logos? A slightly different take on common and simple symbols or images might just do the trick. Check, check, double-check.
Nobody needs to look at a logo and know exactly what the company does. Apple doesn’t sell apples. Porsche isn’t quite in the horse business. Michelin doesn’t make marshmallow men or white car tires for that matter.
Us humans love ourselves a little mystery, and if you can get people to look at your logo for longer, you capture their attention, and it will linger in their memory.
Lesson 2: Iconic logos are ambiguous and a little bit intriguing.
That gives room for creativity, which, yes, can also be daunting, because where to start?
Dig a little deeper than your brand name, product, service or the market you’re in, and you might find some tremendous double meaning, symbolism or history you can use for your logo.
Moreover, ambiguity also ensures longevity.
What if Apple had used a computer screen as their logo?
Where would that leave them now, selling phones, iPads, and soon even cars?
Make your logo a tad mysterious, and it’s also future-proof.
Ask anyone to describe the Coca Cola logo, and the first thing they’ll mention will be the colours.
Their logo has shape-shifted quite a bit since the launch in 1886.
There’s no more actual cocaine in the sizzling soda, but they’ve stuck to their colour scheme: red and white. With a reason.
Lesson 3: Colour is more than just a detail.
Colour is more powerful than you might think.
It’s influencing us consciously and subconsciously, affecting our thinking, triggering reactions, and even stimulating bodily hormones.
According to colour psychology, bold, bright red in marketing triggers impulse purchases — such as a can of soda at a gas stop.
The white, cursive text suggests a return to a more classic day and age — hinting to how the popular drink has stood the test of time.
Choose the colours for your logo and ultimately branding carefully, but don’t throw every other design rule overboard.
A strong logo works in black and white too, for instance when it’s reproduced in monochrome for print.
Think about it: you see a drawing of a mermaid-like being in dark green colours, and your mind jumps to coffee. Or pumpkin-spice latte. Or those white chocolate chip cookies…
Lesson 4: Make it iconic.
Now, the lesson in the Starbucks logo design is not as much in their design, but much more in their redesign — and the reasoning behind it.
Our little mermaid friend used to be accompanied by a circle around her with the word Starbucks Coffee in it. Makes sense, right? But, it didn’t.
The circle reminded people of donuts and the negative and low quality of some of the standard coffee shops on every street corner.
At the same time, Starbucks had ambitions beyond selling coffee, so these words in their logo held them back.
So, they broke the Siren out of her circle, made her the face of the company and removed the words “Starbucks” and “coffee” altogether.
People associated the green Siren with Starbucks so thoroughly that no reference to the name was even necessary.
Give the masses a white cup with the Starbucks logo on it, and they will happily share pictures of it on any social media channel within their reach. Talk about free marketing.
Video killed the radio star, and MTV was complicit.
The logo of the network became a kaleidoscope of changing patterns and colours, while the form of their logo stayed the same.
Are they breaking any logo design rules here?
Not quite. They made change a consistent factor and their signature, while still being recognisable.
Lesson 5: Think about placement and your target group.
When keeping track of what’s hip and happening is your core business, a rigid logo isn’t the way to go.
Having the benefit of always having their logo on the screen (during every video clip), MTV turned it into a chameleon that stands out instead of blends in.
Not only did they make smart use of the placement, but they also connect with their target group that continuously picks up on new trends, new hair colours, is easily bored and thus needs to be consistently entertained and surprised.
How to make iconic logos
Sure, Uber just spelt out their name and called it a day.
But, let’s assume finding a fitting logo won’t be as easy for everyone. We’ve got some ideas to get you started.
Brainstorm and research
If no visual comes to mind directly, brainstorm on it.
Maybe play with the name, makes some word webs, and you’ll see you can derive inspiration from far more than that.
Do the same thing for your industry, or services, your demographics. Basically, try some good old word association.
Now, take it up a notch. Find your values. Write down your history, go as far back to your childhood as you need to, there might be something there.
Get to know your ideal customers. And your employees! You’ll need them for the next step.
Know your audience
You’re not making iconic logos just for you.
It should work two ways: your employees should feel pride and a positive connection towards it, and your customers should recognise it as quality, trustworthy, fun, or whatever you want to project.
When designing or even brainstorming a logo, do a little research on the opinions of both parties.
Find out what words or images they link to your company, or what they think of the first drafts.
The easiest way to do so is with an online quiz. Make one wholly tailored to the questions you have, right here!
Understand where it will go
The placement has some consequences for quite a few aspects of your logo.
Think about where the logo will be used. Is it just going to be web, or is it going to be printed on, let’s say shirts?
If something like that’s the case, make sure to test the logo for movement and printing to prevent any blunders.
Also, make sure the colours you pick are suitable for where the logo will be used.
It’s essential to be consistent, and even a slightly different tone could throw people off.
Want to play it safe? Keep in mind that iconic logos are even recognisable in black and white, and when it’s printed, this often could be the case – no matter how much thought you put into colour psychology.
Last, but not least, make sure your logo is easily scalable.
It should appear as great on a billboard as it would on a smartphone.
That means impressive on a large scale, but still recognisable when it’s small.
A logo might seem small, but it has a significant impact on your branding and what you can do marketing-wise, visually.
Be inspired, but make sure that at the end of the day, your logo is unique and sends the message across.
Need some help? Read more about our logo design service. Investing in your logo is an investment in your future.
We’re looking forward to creating your iconic logos!