The Anatomy of a Logo

This following is a brief introduction to logo design. Please do not try this at home!

To create an effective logo mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

  • 2 parts artistic ability
  • 1 part witchcraft
  • 3 parts psychology of people
  • 1 part blind luck

What is a logo?

Your logo is a graphic representation of your brand, but it is no way your brand. It allows people (customers) to find you, remember you and differentiate you from other businesses.

How do you design a logo?

Start in black and white – to keep things simple start the design in black and white. Nothing messes up a good logo design than adding color before you have the shape, design and readability. If it doesn’t work in black and white they it probably won’t work in color.

Determine the shape – Shape is what people recognize first. By shape I include logos which are just the company name. Defining the proper font is the same as defining the shape. Simple, unique designs are the most effective.

Color – Color needs to be simple, easy to discern and memorize. Colors and color combinations used in logos should be unique so that the logo doesn’t blend into the multitude of other logos. The psychology of color is too broad to cover here, but following is a quick lesson:

Black: seriousness, distinctiveness, boldness, power, sophistication, tradition

Blue: authority, dignity, security, faithfulness, heritage, corporate stability, trust

Brown/gold: history, utility, earthiness, richness, tradition, conservative

Gray/silver: somberness, authority, practicality, corporate mentality, trust

Green: tranquility, health, freshness, stability, appetite

Orange: fun, cheeriness, warm exuberance, appetite, speed

femininity, innocence, softness, health, youth

Purple: sophistication, spirituality, wealth, royalty, youth, mystery

aggressiveness, passion, strength, vitality, fear, speed, appetite

White/silver: purity, truthfulness, faith, contemporary, refined, wealth

youth, positive feelings, sunshine, cowardice, refinement, caution, appetite

Keep in mind that the color on paper and a website can look dramatically different so test everything. You will need the color specifications as PMS colors or CMYK (four-color process) for printing and RGB (Web/video).

Size Matters – Does the logo work as well on a sign outside as it does on a business card? Not all designs are scalable.

When I designed the logo for my email stationery company called inboxFX Communications Inc logo I went through a similar process.

This is the logo we ended up using:


And these were the choices we worked with. Click on the image below and you can see how we had the black and white version to choose from on the left:


Designing a logo is the hardest thing I do as the client does not know what they want, but they definitely know what they don’t want. A logo questionnaire is a good starting point for our clients.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Dan Schawbel says:

    These are really great points. The most important idea with a logo is that it touches on the brand of the corporation and is creative.

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