The 5 "Rules" of Effective Logo Design


An ineffective logo can lead to some serious headaches down the road. Especially as your beautiful business begins to grow.

It may seem simple on the surface, but your logo is an essential part of your brand’s story. It is just as responsible for communicating what you are about as your website, photography, copy, and other brand ingredients.

To help you make sure your logo is prepared to represent your brand, I made a list of the 5 "Rules" of Effective Logo Design.

1.Make it Relevant to the Brand

Your logo is a visual representation of your business so you want it to be relevant to your industry, your brand’s personality, and the audience you’re targeting.

This is number one because it requires research and some brand discovery work before you even get started sketching ideas. Doing the research beforehand may seem like a pain in the butt, but trust me, it’s so worth it! It’s so much easier and more effective to start a brand design when you have set clear goals and intentions.

“Keep in mind, though, that a logo doesn’t have to go so far as to literally reveal what a company does.” -David Airey (Logo Design Love)

There’s no need for obvious clichés in your logo design. Just because we want it to be relevant to your industry doesn’t mean if you sew you need a sewing machine, or if you paint you need a paintbrush. It’s okay, and sometimes very compelling, to let your audience use their imagination a little.

2.Ditch the Trends

The goal is to create something timeless. If you spend your time chasing trends, your logo is going to wind up vapid and flavorless.

ditch the trends

Sure it will look pretty, but pretty doesn’t bring life and personality to your brand. Pretty doesn’t tell your story and it doesn’t speak to your target audience.

Focus on relevance and personality, and try to ignore what is or is not on trend. This will keep you from spending your time and hard-earned money on a design that will look dated in a few months. Or worse, like something your audience has seen one-thousand (and two) times.

3.Shape before Color

Let me be clear, I am in no way saying that your brand colors don’t really matter. I am a huge color theory nerd and I thoroughly believe that your colors are everything!

What I am saying is that when it comes to your logo, shape is king. Shape is what makes your mark stand out. If your logo has a solid, distinguished shape, it will not only be versatile, it will be easy to remember!

To make sure you are focusing on shape and layout first, start your design in solid black. Keep colors in mind as you design, but make sure the form is there first. This will also make sure that your logo is functional in a solid color, which is always a must!  

ashton lenae logo solid
ashton lenae logo color

4.Keep It Simple, Silly

Less is more, especially in the world of logo design. Keeping your logo simple will help you meet most of the other requirements of a strong and effective design, like timelessness and versatility.

When you think of your brand, you might have several images come to mind. You have to try to reign that in. Ideally, you should try to narrow the focus of your design down to just one really cool, distinguishing thing. One thing to rule them all! :D

Just don't go thinking that logos are only effective if they follow the confines of minimalism. The key is to learn the rules well, so that you can break them effectively.


The Yellow Barn Logo Design
The Yellow Barn Alt Logo

5. Flexibility

This one builds off of the other “rules”. Your logo is the face of your brand. Have you ever met someone who has a face that looks great in every hat and every pair of sunglasses? That’s the goal for your logo.

You want to be able to scale your logo billboard-big, and business-card-small and still have it look amazing. You want to be able to use it in black, white, color, and still have it be easily recognized.

Focusing on shape first, and keeping things simple will help you achieve this. It’s also incredibly helpful to have logo variations (or alternate logos) that compliment your main design but give you some extra flexibility. -->Read Why Alternate Logos are Necessary.

When you combine these concepts together, you’ve got 5 secret ingredients to cook yourself up an effective logo design.

  • Start by doing the research on your industry and audience. Then, do some deep digging to gain clarity in your brand’s message and personality.

  • Remember to kick the trends to the curb. You can draw inspiration from what’s fashionable, but be mindful not to jump on the overused bandwagon.

  • Prioritize shape, but never treat color as an afterthought.

  • Keep it simple. Try to narrow down your focus to just one distinguishing factor.

  • Aim for flexibility to make sure you are prepared for any brandable situation.

& Always remember: 

Break the Rules

Did I miss anything? Got any questions? Leave a comment! I love to hear from you and I love to help in whatever way I can!