In the design world, there’s no hard and fast rule about what makes a “good” logo.
And that’s because design is such a personal thing, and what resonates with one person may not even entice the next person to look twice. However, much like puppies and pizza, there are some logos that most designers would agree are universally appealing! They’re professional, polished, impactful and they just work.
So, what do these undeniably ‘good’ logos have in common? Often, they call upon proven design principles to lay down a strong foundation—before adding on their own unique touches. Here, we delve into the principles of good logos, and share 10 design tips and examples to help you put them into action!
The purpose of a logo
Logos are also like the mascot of your company, visually communicating your brand’s personality, values and core messages at just a glance. This first impression has the ability to mould how the viewer thinks about your brand from that point forward. Logos also serve as the cornerstone around the rest of your visual branding—such as your website and business card.
Design principles to follow when creating a logo
Using design principles to help you to create a logo can make the design process much easier. These elements are the building blocks for all kinds of logos. The five design principles include:
Logos that are well-balanced appear harmonious and polished. Nothing is shifted too much to one side of the design or the other. When your design is off-kilter, it can appear too chaotic and make it difficult for the viewer to absorb all the information at once.
Alignment, spacing and symmetry are all important parts of achieving balance in your logo. For example, while there seems to be a lot going on in the above composition, these three factors are what prevents it from feeling overwhelming.
Want to achieve balance in your own logo? Canva’s Dark Green Tree Agriculture Logo has done the hard work for you — you just need to add in your own text and icon!
Repetition might seem it would be a recipe for boring design. But, it’s actually important for quickly leading the viewer’s eye from one side of your design to the other. This makes it easy for them to scan, absorb and (hopefully!) remember all the information in your logo.
The key to using repetition in your logo without it feeling repetitive is to incorporate patterns with minor differences. This could be in the form of the same text in different colors, or icons and shapes with slight variations.
Our Indigo Circle Abstract logo uses repetition to its advantage by layering two of the same shapes with varying opacity. Make it your own in Canva today!
Opposites attract, and this is certainly the case in good logo design! Using contrast in your design can help create that ‘wow’ factor that catches the viewer off-guard (in a good way!) Essentially, contrast is when you put two opposing elements together, to make them stand out.
Many designers use a contrasting color scheme to incorporate this design principle into their logos. While this is an effective strategy, it’s not the only way! You could also use an eye-catching split design like the designer has in the above logo, to create contrast with shapes and lines.
From the shapes and lines to the vibrant color scheme, Canva’s Yellow and Orange Square template maximises contrast in multiple ways!
Dominance is when one of your visual elements is more prominent than the others—making it the focal point of your logo. While this may seem like the opposite of balance, it can be an effective strategy for drawing the viewer’s eye to one particular area of the logo. Plus, it employs the power of surprise and can make your design feel more exciting and dynamic.
As you can see in the above logo, you can use both dominance and logo at the same time. While the brand name typography clearly stands out more than the other elements, the entire composition remains well-balanced and aligned.
Ready to assert dominance in your own logo design? Canva’s Orange and White Burgers and Shakes Logo lets its iconography do the talking.
In your logo, there’s often a few different pieces of information you need to visually convey—like, who you are, what you do and who you do it for. That’s where the principle of visual hierarchy comes in. This is where you structure your elements in a way that intentionally guides the viewer’s eye through your design. In essence, it’s the path they will take to process all the information in your logo. So, it’s important to do this in a way that makes logical sense. All of the other design principles work together to achieve strong visual hierarchy, as do things like framing, typography and colors.
You can see visual hierarchy in action in the above logo for designer Tal Shafik. He uses the size and boldness of his typography to direct the viewer on the desired path through the various layers of his logo.
Canva’s Mustard Black Minimalist Etsy Shop template takes the guesswork out of creating visual hierarchy—it uses framing and text to take your viewer on a visual journey.
10 design tips to follow when creating a logo
While the principles of a good logo may seem simple in theory, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 logo design tips to help you put them into action, plus examples that show exactly why they work.
Design tip 1: Choose an analogous or complementary color scheme
Your color palette can often be the deciding factor between your logo falling flat or leaping off the page. But, how do you know which colors work well together in logo design? A great rule of thumb is opt for either an analogous complementary color scheme.
An analogous color palette is when you use two colors that sit next to each other—or, at least very close—on the color wheel. For example, this could be yellow or green; pink and purple or green and blue. When these colors are paired together, it creates a harmonious feel that is pleasing to the eye. This color pairing is ideal for brands that want their logo to feel relaxing and grounding.
You can see an analogous color scheme out in the wild, in this logo for Green Fair Landscaping. It pairs yellow with green—a common color combination for landscaping brands due to its natural-looking aesthetic.
Want to use an analogous, green and yellow color scheme in your own logo design? Check out Canva’s Green with Cutout Circle Agriculture Logo template.
On the other hand, a complementary color scheme uses two colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. This creates high contrast in your logo design, for a visually-arresting effect that borders on jarring. This makes it nearly impossible for the viewer not to pay attention to your logo!
Design studio Illo use various iterations of complementary color schemes in their branding. The result is an attention-grabbing logo that feels powerful, bold and modern.
You can amp up the contrast in your own logo design with Canva’s Blue and Pink Festival Logo template.
Design tip 2: Opt for readable typography
You can have the most aesthetically-pleasing logo in the world. But, if the viewer can’t read your text, it’s unlikely to leave a lasting impression! Using readable and web-friendly fonts is crucial for making your logo seem professional and polished. Plus, it ensures you can effectively get your message across. After all, if the viewer has to work too hard to decipher your logo, they’re going to quickly lose interest!
The above graphic uses a bold, san-serif font from the Bison family. This is an excellent choice for logo typography, as it stands out and gets your point across instantly. Other great fonts for logos include the geometric League Spartan, the classic Monsterrat and the more feminine Playfair Design. If you opt for a handwritten or brush script font, make sure your text is still readable even at small font sizes.
All of Canva’s logo templates use readable and web-friendly typefaces and the Black and Green Squares Furnishing Logo template is no exception. This one uses Bebas Neue to make a serious impact.
Design tip 3: Use white space in your logo
Often, good logos are as much about what you don’t include as what you do. Otherwise known as negative or blank space, using plenty of white space in your logo is essential for achieving balance. This is simply the parts of your design that don’t have any visual elements in them. It gives your logo room to breathe and stops it from feeling too chaotic or overcrowded.
The above logo for HNH incorporates white space, not only around its visual elements but also within the icon to create an intriguing ‘broken’ effect. The result is a clean and minimalistic logo that is still interesting to look at!
Canva’s minimalistic Cream Corner Frame Photography Logo template is a great place to start to incorporate white design into your logo.
Design tip 4: Make sure your elements are aligned
Your logo spacing and alignment can be what takes your logo from ‘amateur hour’ to ‘ah wow, did you design that?’ This involves making sure all the letter and word spacing, visual elements and margins are even and centred. Doing this brings your logo together in a way that feels balanced and harmonious.
This logo for Neuro Coffee is a great example. While there’s a lot going on with many different layers of text, these are aligned and balanced. Meaning, the spacing between the letters and lines are consistent. This prevents this logo from feeling too overcrowded and overwhelming.
Canva’s in-built alignment tools are great for making sure all of your spacing is even. However, if you’re looking for a multi-levelled logo design that’s already perfectly aligned, check out the Bold Black and Yellow Etsy Shop Logo template.
Design tip 5: Go for less over more
Great designers don’t look for what they can add to their logo—they look for what they can take away! While there’s certainly a time and place for loud, maximalist logos, it’s hard to go wrong with clean and simple design. The less visual elements you have in your logo design, the less that are competing for the viewer’s attention. This means you can make the visual elements you do have in your logo count.
This logo design for mattress company Naturalist shows how you can do a lot with so little. They’ve combined a pared-back color scheme with a simple composition, instead using the curved ‘N’ shape to add a point of difference.
Want to take a ‘less is more’ approach to your own logo design? Canva’s Light Blue Circle Business Logo uses minimal visual elements to make maximum impact.
Design tip 6: Create a visual path that makes sense
Great designers know how to take their viewers on a visual journey through their logo. They do this not through luck, but by logic! When people look at your logo, they generally won’t scan it from the top-down. Rather, they’ll look at the most prominent thing first. So, think about what piece of information you want them to look at first, then structure your logo accordingly. You can do this by simply making it the largest or boldest element on the page. From there, viewers will normally look for visual cues that direct them to the next most important piece of information—whether that’s through arrows, framing or visual contrast.
This logo for The Vault is the perfect example of excellent visual hierarchy. The viewer’s eye is drawn immediately to the large typography at the top. Then, the illustrations on the rounded arches bring it down to the secondary text along the bottom. Even when not animated, the clever step graphic then brings the eye back up to the brand name again. Genius!
You can take a simpler approach to visual hierarchy with Canva’s Blue with Brown Rope Travel Logo template. The information is already presented in a way that guides the viewer’s eye on a logical path—all you need to do is make it your own!
Design tip 7: Use symmetry to create visual harmony
Whether your logo is bright and bold or monochrome and minimalistic, symmetry is key for creating impactful designs. This is when your visual elements are evenly balanced on each side. As humans, we love symmetry—it’s a huge factor in what we find aesthetically pleasing. When your designs are symmetrically-balanced, they instantly feel more harmonious and professional.
There are various ways you can use symmetry to elevate your designs. It could be simply ensuring you have the same amount of space around your text on all sides. Or, you could include a symmetrical icon, as designer Siddhhant Sanu has in the logo above. This icon could be sliced down the middle and be perfectly even on both sides. He has also added to this balanced feel by using the same white and grey colors in his typography.
Want to harness the power of symmetry in your own designs? Canva’s Grey Box Photography Logo uses a well-balanced icon you can easily customize for your own brand.
Design tip 7: Use shapes and lines to create contrast
Color isn’t the only way you can create contrast in your logo design. You can also layer shapes and lines to create vectors and patterns. Not only can these give your logo extra visual interest, but they can also be used to direct the viewer’s gaze to certain elements in your logo.
This logo for Yellowstone National Park uses shapes, lines and icons to paint a picture—literally! The stacked triangles on top of each other not only create a striking pattern, but also serve as arrows from the ‘Yellowstone’ text to the mountain icon. This helps the viewers associate Yellowstone with nature and a sense of adventure.
Want to achieve a similarly adventurous vibe in your own logo design? Check out Canva’s Rustic Mountain logo template to get the look!
Design tip 9: Use memorable icons
Often, what embeds a logo into our memory isn’t the text or the colors, but the iconography. Think about some of the world’s most memorable logos and likely comes to mind is the iconic McDonald's arches or the Starbucks mermaid. Unique and symbolic icons can give your logo a point of difference and ensure it sticks in the viewer’s mind.
For example, the icon in this logo is memorable for a couple of reasons. Not only does the love heart perfectly fit in with Belove name, but it’s integrated into the ‘B’ level in a creative way. The result is a cute logo that’s likely to stick in the viewer’s mind.
Not all icons need to be symbolic to be memorable! Canva’s Pink Manadala Massage Logo template features a beautiful, intricate logo that could work across various different industries.
Design tip 10: Incorporate the element of surprise
Once you’ve got the fundamentals of logo design down pat, you can think outside the box. After all, design isn’t just about following the rule. Sometimes, it’s about making your own! Adding some surprising elements to an otherwise well-structured logo can be just the thing you need to take it to the next level.
For example, this logo for Maxistentialism splits its text into three chunks—three diagonal, and one straight horizontal. Adding an ‘odd element out’ is known as pattern-breaking—a technique that can take your logo to the next level. In this branding, it gives the logo an abstract feel while still appearing well put-together.
If you’re keen to incorporate the element of surprise into your own design, Canva’s Colorful Sound Waves Music App Logo template is just the right amount of abstract.
By using the principles, examples and design tips in this article, you can create a logo that goes far beyond just ‘good.’ You’ll create an unforgettable one that truly exemplifies your brand personality and resonates with your target audience.