July 30, 2013

Minimalism & Logo Design

Minimalism & Logo Design

There are a lot of competing ideas on what makes for the perfect design, and one of the favorites is minimalism. Figuring out what the purpose of a company is, the essence, is at the core of logo design. The soul of the result should be all that’s needed to properly identify and brand a company. Case in point, what’s at the heart of the logo and package design of some of the most popular brands, like Nesquick? The rabbit? The chocolate milk? How about the font itself?. A few years back, Antrepo came out with a few designs of famous brands that eliminated all the noise and got down to the core of what made the logo really click. The result? Really effective.

It is interesting to see how much (or how little) is needed to make a badge effective. This probably isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the importance of simplicity and minimalism in branding and logos, and it certainly won’t be the last, what with out Memento-like extreme short term memories. But all of our neurological deficiencies aside, this is as good a time as any to reiterate our very strong feelings about keeping your brand message and logo strategy crisp and flourish-light.

A logo isn’t a logo if it isn’t clear and simple. This doesn’t mean that we’re going to set any limits on brush strokes or anything, but if you’re getting into the original Apple logo territory, someone simply has to stop you.

Every logo needs a core; the core being what the logo actually is without all of the bells and whistles. This generally includes the brand colors, the font and possibly the brand/company name. A young brand will probably have to incorporate additional elements in order to delineate what the company/product/philosophy is all about, but as the brand ages and its vision becomes more well known, then the logo can become cleaner and eventually be pared down to its barest essence.

Brand colors

Your logo is going to have to incorporate your brand colors, like it or not. This is especially true if your product name includes a color of some sort, such as “Red Bull,” “orange juice” or “Maroon 5.”

When choosing colors for your logo, stick to color families that are appropriate to both your brand identity and your demographic. Earth tones if your brand is environmentally friendly; pastels if geared towards parents of newborns; bold and eye catching colors if your product is marketed to children. You can, if you like, think outside the box in terms of color selection, but there are still a few hard and fast rules. If you manufacture baby furniture and your brand colors are black and gunmetal grey, just be aware that parents of emo/goth newborns are a niche market, at best.

Keep your brand colors relatively simple, and make sure that you select a color palate that can be easily accommodated by a multitude of printers as well as stay true when viewed on different browsers.


Helvetica. ‘Nuff said.

Just kidding. There are hundreds of fonts out there in the world, all yours for the taking after paying a modest fee.

When choosing a font, clarity is the most important quality. You want your customers to be able to read your brand and product name, and if a minor degree of artistry and uniqueness must be sacrificed, then so be it.

Brand name or no brand name?

Hard to say. Honestly, it depends upon whether or not your product/brand name is, well, good. If your product name is Qsymia, we suggest going with a symbol.

You have a choice; you can turn your brand name into a logo, or incorporate your brand name into a logo/symbol combo and then eliminate the name from the badge or not as you choose once your brand becomes known. Just be aware of the fact that your brand will probably never become known to the extent that symbol recognition alone is possible. Oh, there’s McDonalds, Apple, Nike and Pepsi, but those were billion dollar efforts. Now, if your graphic designer has fabricated a totally fly, clean and distinct symbol that will surely become your business’ badge from now until the end of time, then don’t waste it. Otherwise, when in doubt, use your name.

So, what have we learned today? We learned that a logo must be a simple yet cohesive symbol around which all other flourishes are added and then, eventually, removed. We learned that a pastoral etching of Sir Isaac Newton under a tree doesn’t count as a logo. We learned that a crisp, readable font is one thousand times better than any sort of elaborate, barely legible, swirly script. Most importantly, we learned that if a new parent shops for baby furnishings made entirely of wrought iron and slabs of granite, then the department of social services should probably be made aware of that fact.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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