You have literally seconds when it comes to making an impression on new visitors to your website. Having a well-designed logo is the foundation of appearing professional. Your logo is normally located top left of your website and is the first thing your website visitors are likely to see.
Your visitors will judge your business and brand on the strength of your logo – in seconds and mostly sub-consciously. But giving a brief to a designer can also be a challenge. In this post we’re going to unpack the parts of a logo and show how they successfully fit together, so that by the end of this post you’ll know what makes a good logo.
If you already have a logo, you’ll be able to look at it with freshly informed eyes, and you’ll be able to fix it if it’s not working so well. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be able to give a designer a sensible brief so they can do a great job for you!
Before we get stuck in
A note to new businesses: If you’re a bootstrapped start-up or a freelancer embarking on a consulting business, a logo is not the only thing you should be focusing on. You need to make sure you’re keeping your existing customers happy and finding new customers as well as developing your brand. Bear in mind that you can change your logo as your business grows and you develop more budget for marketing. So, your first logo doesn’t have to be perfect, and if all goes well it certainly won’t be your last.
The 3 parts of a logo
Let’s dive into what makes a good logo. At Wildheart we consider a logo as having 3 parts:
Part 1: The brand mark
This is the graphic element of your logo. It’s usually an abstract or stylised shape. It should be striking and easily recognisable. Big brands (think Nike and Adidas) often use this graphic on it’s own, but if you’re a small business this is something you should avoid, as you’re not likely to be a household name any time soon!
Not every logo has a brand mark, and the brand mark can also be created using just the brand name. Here are some practical examples:
Our logo is a bear’s face made in the shape of a heart:
Authentic Yoga Marketing
In this case there is no brand mark and the logo consists only of the brand name contained within a frame:
The Yoga Spot
The brand mark we created here is a mandala (a mystical symbol representing the universe) in the shape of a flower:
Part 2: The brand name
This is the main text element of a logo and is normally a shortened version of your company name. It should be no more than 2 words; one word is even better. There needs to be a common thread that runs through your brand name, company name and website address.
The brand name we chose for our logo is Wildheart. Our company name is Wildheart Media Ltd and our web address is wildheartmedia.com. Notice how we dropped ‘Media’ from our logo. Why? Because Wildheart Media is just too long as a brand name in a logo. The common thread here of course is the word Wildheart.
Here’s another example. Authentic Yoga Marketing is a series of marketing courses for yoga teachers and studio owners. This is a partnership between Wildheart Media and David Keil from yoganatomy.com. The brand name is Authentic and the web address is authenticyogamarketing.com. But that’s quite a mouthful, which is why we’ve dropped ‘yoga marketing’ from the brand name. However, we’ve managed to include this by using the strapline ‘Marketing for yogis’.
Part 3: The strapline
The strapline is a short phrase that appears underneath the brand name. It’s useful to add more detail to the brand name and it usually consists of the ‘how’ or the ‘what’ a company offers.
In our example of Wildheart we explain the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ with ‘Authentic content marketing’. This is still problematic because most people don’t know what content marketing actually means. But we can’t solve all our problems with our logo, can we?
In our second example, Authentic Yoga Marketing, we explain the ‘what’ with the strapline ‘Marketing for yogis’.
The strapline we developed for The Yoga Spot combines the ‘how’ and the ‘where’ in ‘Serene in Aberdeen’. This strapline came out of the language that Michele, the founder of The Yoga Spot, uses to describe her yoga studio.
Writing a good strapline can be hard to do and requires good collaboration. Remember it doesn’t need to be perfect straight away. As you refine your marketing and messaging, your strapline will most likely go through a few iterations before it settles and feels right.
Pulling it all together
So far we’ve broken down the 3 parts of a logo into:
- Brand mark
- Brand name
Now that we know what the 3 elements are, it’s time to look at how they fit together.
Your logo needs to look great in any context, for example:
- Website viewed on a smartphone, tablet and desktop
- Printed flyers and posters
- Social media accounts, e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
- Signage if you have a physical location
- Merchandising like t-shirts, hoodies, caps and bags
Is your logo robust?
A common mistake is to come up with a brand mark that is too intricate or to use a font that is too thin. This is a problem when a logo is viewed on screen at small sizes or printed on merchandising. When the logo is viewed in these contexts, all the lovely detail gets lost. The solution is to make sure that during the design process you see and approve your logo in both large and small sizes.
Is your logo flexible enough?
Every logo should have at least 2 formats so that it looks great in as many contexts as possible. The 2 most important formats to think about are landscape and stacked.
This is the version you’ll use the most. It’s the best choice for your website because the format is a horizontal rectangle. Normally this is achieved by positioning the brand mark to the left of the brand name and strapline. This format makes efficient use of space, especially on smartphones and in emails. For example:
The stacked format is often great for signage and merchandising like t-shirts and bags. As the name suggests the elements are all stacked on top of each other. The brand mark often needs to be bigger in the stacked format to look well-proportioned compared to the brand name. For example:
In this post we’ve identified the 3 parts of a logo and showed some different examples. We also explored how these 3 parts fit together to make a robust and flexible logo.
But there are 2 other visual elements that are also really important when it comes to your branding. These are your colour palette and fonts, and we’ll be exploring these elements in our upcoming blog posts.
For more on this topic, check out this video of Wildheart founder Guy talking about the 3 parts of a logo.
And if you’re ready for a new logo for your business, why not sign up to our Logo and Style Guide Package.