Posts Categorized: Logo Design 101
Rob Marsh
Filed under Logo Design 101, Logos.

Forget Telling a Story! Your Logo Design Needs to Appeal to Everyone.

Last week we argued that your logo should tell a story. And while that can be a good thing (depending on the kind of business you run), it may be a better idea to forget telling a story all together. Forget having your logo communicate anything at all. Let it just be a logo.

In fact, if we hadn’t written that previous post, we’d be tempted to say that having a logo that tells a story is bad advice.

Here’s why:

Brands are complex creatures. Most of them have a meaning or story to us that can be captured in a logo. But your relationship with a brand is different from my relationship with the same brand. So which story goes in the logo?

Let’s take car rental brands for example.

Pretend for a moment that you really like the Avis car rental company.

Avis Logo Design

You like Avis because their location at your airport is easy to get to (and is closer than Budget) and there’s rarely a wait for a car. In addition, you travel often enough that the people at your local office remember you when you stop by to get a car, and great you with a friendly smile.

Now, how should Avis tell that story in a logo design?

Do you add a map to the type showing the location is close to the airport? Do you add a smiley face to the logo to show customers that the people there are always friendly? (And if you do, what happens when an employee has a bad day and forgets to be friendly?)


Probably not.

This idea is even worse when you remember that not everyone likes Avis because of the friendly service.

Some customers like the kinds of cars Avis offers. Others like the price they charge. While still others like the Preferred Club membership benefits, or the cleanliness of the cars. And some potential customer like Avis’ competitors.

No logo can tell all of these stories.

At least, not without becoming a meaningless mess.

Imagine an Avis logo that contains the company name, a smiling face, a map, two or three cars, and a club icon. That logo tells a lot of stories.

And it’s a mess.

To show you what that looks like in a real example, check out this logo concept for the Casper Volleyball Tournament (it was just a concept and never got to the final stages):

Crawded Casper Volleyball Logo


We imagine the designer thinking something like this: “First, it’s a volleyball tournament so it needs to say that and show a volleyball. And since we’re in Casper, I should probably show some stuff that relates to the area, like the mountains and an oil drill. And since we’ve got that big Elk arch here in the city, I better put in some antlers—maybe a good four or five point rack. And we need a sponsor’s logo included in it somewhere, so I’ll tuck it into the bottom of the volleyball.”

Rightly the client said, the logo had too much going on.

Smart client.

A logo design that doesn’t tell a specific story allows the customer bring their own story to the logo. Take this logo for Quantum, designed by Luke Baker, one of’s Portfolio members.

Quantum Logo Design


If you like Quantum because their product matches your expectation, this logo design works. And if you like their friendly customer service, this logo works. If they solve your problem, this logo works. In fact, no matter what your experience with this company, its logo can represent that interaction and help you remember them.

Some of the best logos don’t try to tell you what to think.

Need another example? How about a two more…


Coca-Cola Logo Design


Coca-cola’s logo has become its own icon that represents the positive feelings you have associated with the drink. There’s no picture of a glass of soda, or family gatherings, or guys playing football, or any of the millions of things you could do while enjoying a Coke. The logo is simple enough to represent any experience you have with the brand.

Disney Logo Design

Disney’s logo design is similarly diverse. Whether in a theme park, in a movie, on a video, or on packaging for their toys and books, this logo is plain enough to tell hundreds of stories related to the Disney entertainment empire. Do you have a favorite Disney story or experience? You probably think of it just about every time you see this logo.

So should your logo tell a story? 

Not if it needs to represent a variety of different customer experiences. In that case, you’re better off with a logo that is simple enough to represent everyone’s experience with your brand.

What do you think? Should a logo be plain or say something?



Rob Marsh
Filed under Design, Logo Design 101.

Your Logo Design Should Tell A Story

One of the most important purposes of a logo is to communicate a particular message or story with customers.

That’s a lot of work for a single image and a word or two, but the very best logo designs tell a story.

Sometimes the logo’s story is obvious. Like the “jump man” logo used by Nike for the Air Jordan brand. This logo is silhouette of Michael Jordan flying through the air with a ball in his hand, on his way to a thundering dunk:


Air Jordan Logo Design


The Air Jordan logo’s story is obvious: the products marked with this logo design help people accomplish amazing athletic feats. This icon is so good at telling its story, that you don’t even need to see the words “Nike” or “Air Jordan” to get the message, or to recognize the brand.

Another, more subtle example is the Amazon logo. At first, the logo appears simply to be a word mark with an underline icon underneath the first part of the word. But it tells a great story.


Amazon Logo Design


Notice that the underline is an arrow that goes from A to Z. This isn’t an accident. Amazon wants to communicate that the place to find everything from A to Z online is Great story. But it gets better. The underline is also a smile—which presumably represents how you feel when you use Amazon to find what you’re looking for. All that from the company name and a simple underline.

Let’s take a look at an example from Jerron Ames, a portfolio member. He created the Chart Monster logo, which tells an easy to recognize story. The icon is obviously a Loch Ness-type monster. But notice the way the monster creates a bar chart, moving up and to the right, showing positive growth. It’s a fantastic example of an icon that quickly demonstrates the product’s story.

ChartMonster Logo Design


One last example to reinforce the point—the logo design for Le Tour de France. Cycling fans will readily recognize the logo featuring the name of the world’s biggest bicycle race and a blotch of yellow (yellow is the color most closely associated with the race). Notice how the yellow ball is also the front wheel of a bicycle, and the R becomes the rider of a bike made by the O and U in the logo. Anyone who sees this logo immediately knows that the Tour de France has something to do with cycling.


Tour de Fance Logo Design


A logo that tells a compelling story will help your company or brand stand out from the competition in your marketplace.

Need help finding a designer who can create this kind of logo for you? Check out our directory of awesome designers, then reach out to the one who’s work you admire most.

Do you have a logo that tells a great story? Have you designed one or seen one? Tell us about it in the comments.

And if you think this whole idea is a load of bollocks, check out this post: Your Logo Shouldn’t Tell a Story.



Subliminal Messages in Logos

I hate to use the word “subliminal” with logos, because ALL logos should be affecting someone’s mind below the threshold of consciousness. A good logo should be manipulating you to be attracted to the company or products with a simple story.

However, some logos have graphics that have been “buried” in the logo. So buried that the viewer doesn’t recognize it until maybe the hundredth time they’ve seen the logo, and that nice little “a-ha!” moment makes the logo even more memorable to them.

I was indulging in my two favorite pastimes-eating fast food and analyzing logos-when I noticed the outside of the Wendy’s bag had a hidden message. Can you see it?










Wendy’s changed their entire brand in March of this year, and with the change came a loss of the old nostalgic feel that their previous branding had. They use a more modern typeface, their stores are slicker, and the drawing is updated to be clean and fresh.





The simple one-color illustration use on their bags makes the implied message a little clearer, though, since it doesn’t have the distracting colors. It’s a touch of nostalgia I think they wanted to evoke into their overall message of great food. And who did we count on for great food in our childhood?









Here’s some examples of hidden meanings in other famous logos. I won’t incude the obvious FedEx logo, because readers of this blog are probably sick of reading about that.

Hey, that’s a biker!









Nice illustration of analog and digital technology.







They have everything from A-Z.









“Don’t worry, we still have 31 flavors”









Can you think of some more examples?

The 5 Biggest Mistakes in Logo Design

The designers here at BusinessLogos have designed thousands of logos, and have had the chance to critique and revise thousands more. Every day we see these common mistakes that customers and designers make, which cause their business to look weak, unprofessional, and will end up costing the companies sales, respect and profit.

You don’t have to have a huge budget to get quality design, but you DO have to pay for experience, so that you can avoid these mistakes.

This icon is available through stock art stores like Shutterstock, and also through most of the designers on DesignCrowd.

5. Uncopyrightable Design

You find this with crowdsourced design companies like 99designs or DesignCrowd. The designers can’t spend a lot of time on each logo, so they recycle clip art or re-use designs they’ve made for other companies. There’s no system in place to prevent the same art being used my multiple companies, so there is no way to copyright the logo. We’ve spoken with many upset customers that have found this out the hard way.



4. Too Many Elements

“Great, now we just need some napkins, because that’s another thing we provide.”

The idea of the logo is to put a professional “signature” on your business. It is not your entire brand message, nor a sales brochure for your business. It should not bear the burden of communicating every aspect for business (that’s what your marketing is for). But too many business owners want to make sure every product, service, or design idea they can come up with is included in the logo, making it a convoluted mess.

This also happens when business owners receive their initial concepts form a design company, and want to “add value” to their design purchase by piling on ideas. Again, this makes your message LESS clear, and will turn off clients and potential business partners.


3. Amateur Design 

It’s a trusim in every aspect of the business world: you get what you pay for. If you have your 10-year old niece draw your logo’s character for $5, the value will show. If you get 100 designs for $50, the value will show.





2. Unnecessary Text

If you need to have a tagline, great; just leave it out of the logo. Let it be a part of your business card or website. The idea of a logo is to get it stripped down to the essentials, and your address and hours or operation are not essentials. LLC and INC are legally required in your legal documents, but not in your logo, and they tend to make your logo look less professional.


1. Not Designing with All Uses In Mind

The reason logo design is all about simplicity is because your logo needs to be flexible. It’s going to be used in different ways, like embroidery, web and animation. It’s print requirements will be different from it’s web requirements. So it’s not a good idea to use too many gradients and complex illustrations, because that doesn’t translate well to embroidery, for example. Experienced designers know how to design logos that will work for all forms of media that you might use.

Getting your logo done right is a very important part of starting your business. It’s worth the cost to have it done right.

Tags: , , , , ,

10 Awesome Examples of Typographic Logos

This post is about the type of logo that some people call a LogoType. It goes by other names as well, but I’m referring to logos that are essentially text with very little graphic elements. Michael Lambert at Fredd Design calls them Alphanumerics. This is what he said on his website about this category of logo. “This type of mark is the most widely-used logo and we are bombarded with them wherever we go on practically whatever we see. An alphanumeric logo is your company or brand spelled out, literally, but the treatment of the typography is usually unique unto the name itself and can therefore be trademarked and be treated as a logo.”

You can probably think of many logotypes off the top of your head, because they’re so popular. Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, and Google’s logos are just a few examples. When done correctly, it can last for many generations and always represent the company quickly and confidently, without distracting the eye with graphics that can get stale over time. Plus, it shows creativity…I mean, look at Red Lobster’s logo…”wow, you’ve put a lobster that’s red above your text…how did you come up with that?”

10. The Ambigram
The Ambigram is my favorite kind of logotype, because it takes a lot of patience and skill to create. It also stays in the mind of the viewer, because the eye has fun reading it in different ways. Ambigrams are words that can be read in more than one way, so it doesn’t have to just be turned upside down. They can also be read from the side differently, or can have words within words.






9. The “Literal Embodiment”

This style makes use of the company name, turning it into a visual metaphor. It doesn’t work with all names, but when it does, it really works to represent the name. Employing this style also ensures that the logo will be remembered. But you can only use this style with certain names.





8. The AlphaGlyph
This is a design using the letters to create art, thus eliminating the need for a graphic. This requires the designer to really get familiar with the shapes of letters, and to explore many different possiblities. When it works, it works, though, and you can get some really elegant designs. It also helps reinforce the name of the company.







7. The Integrated Graphic
This style works when the graphic is meant to be not subliminal…the comapny really is sure about the product, and wants you to associate them with the leader in that product or service. Amazon does it with the smile that also means A-Z. Creating it takes a lot of thought into something that really represents the company well, and won’t need to be changes if the company shifts directions.





6. The Typography Lover’s dream
This is when the text is front and center, and gets a lot of loving attention to each shadow and curve. ANy supporting graphics are incidental, almost unnecessary, because the shapes of the letters have been lovingly massaged until they’re perfect. This may not be a very common kind of logo, but this style is getting more popular every day, based on a quick search on Behance.





5. The Monogram
A close cousin to the Alphaglyph, this is where the designer uses an acronym and make the rest of the text very incidental, using visual hierachy techniques. It’s good for companies that WANT be known for their initals, like HP, AOL, and VW. Usually this logo starts out its career as an alphaglpyh accompanied with the explanatory text, and then evolves into just the acronym once brand recognition is established.






4. The Typographic Crest
Very similar to #6, but this one is text enclosed in a shape. THis makes it good fora ll kinds of backgrounds, and easier to embroider. New York Life’s logo does this, and it’s never seen without it’s enclosure.







3. The Dangler
This style employs a descender or ascender from one of the letters being put to good use to describe the business. It could be a tail, a moustache, or a piece of food, as long as it’s joined with a simple graphic. A close cousin to the Integrated Graphic style, but it has the graphic apart from the text, so either can be used separately.







2. The Hidden Graphic
FedEx did this and did it well with their hidden arrow. They’re fun to find, and I find myself constantly looking for this kind of thing. You can find it in Tostito’s, Staples, and Baskin Robbins. This example isn’t very hidden, but I think it counts.







1. The Calligraphic Wonder
I am really starting to appreciate this kind, because it takes a designer that loves typography. This style is also good for t-shirts, hoodies, posters, and events. It gives weight to the text, and shows that the company cares enough to take time with their message.






All of these logos were done by the talented designers at

Tags: , , ,