In every graphic design blog and forum I read, the phrase “timeless design” pops up in discussion – usually referring to a classic logo so good that it never needed to be changed, and how if you could distill the qualities from it, you could design your own timeless logo. Whenever I see posts like this, I have to keep myself from shouting, because there is one big issue with timeless design:
It doesn’t exist.
“Nothing gold can stay”
Even the most iconic logos of all time have gone through refinement over the years. Coca-Cola’s logo, arguably one of the most well known and appreciated in the history of trademarks, is as good of an example as any. While the logo on their labels from the early 1900’s is certainly recognizable as the same company, it has been continually tweaked and revamped every few years.
It’s also important to consider how often your product changes and is reinvented. Coca-Cola, except for the New Coke/Coca-Cola Classic fiasco, hasn’t changed much as a product for as long as anyone can remember.
Having a classic look is great if your brand relies heavily on nostalgia or a sense of tradition, but more than likely not fitting for a company in a cutting edge industry that needs to convey a sense of innovation. If you were able to achieve a “timeless” logo, would it even be beneficial to the brand?
A logo is only as strong as the brand behind it
Here’s something to think about: would the logos for Apple, or Nike, of Coca-Cola be as highly lauded if their respective companies weren’t groundbreakers in their industries?
Would they be as instantly recognizable if they didn’t have billions and billions of dollars promoting them to the point of pop culture icons?
Make no mistake, they are good designs, but their “timelessness” has less to do with their actual construction and more to do with their product and overall marketing strategy. There are plenty of examples where average, and even poorly designed logos succeed (I’m looking at you, Pirelli), and vice versa, because of the quality of the company they represent. “Timelessness” and longevity is the product of a well-developed brand as a whole, and not just a clever logo.
Alright, so maybe it won’t last for eons and eons, but what can you do to get the best logo design possible for your company?
Keep it simple
If you want to get the longest lifetime possible out of a logo, one of the best things you can do is stick to something simple. “Simple” is a vague concept, but there are definitely a few tangible things to keep in mind: stick to a limited palette of one or two colors. Make sure it looks good in black and white. Limit the number of fonts used to no more than 2. Avoid relying on effects – drop shadows, gradients, strokes, textures etc. While these effects can certainly be used well in the context of a campaign, they’re they’re among the first things to look as time goes on and shouldn’t be a primary element.
Simplicity begets versatility, and versatility means you can adjust to change over time. If your logo looks good regardless of the colors around it, or the images it goes on top; if your logo works just as well on the side of a truck as it does in a magazine ad; if your logo can stand alone as just a mark without your name; if it can be shrunk down to a favicon or blown up to the size of a billboard and still be effective, then you’re on to something. The elements around your logo may change frequently, so if you can find a design that works in a number of different contexts, it’s going to be able to stick around longer.
Don’t blindly follow trends
Fonts, styles, even color schemes (Teal and purple is forever associated with the 90’s for me) can be huge for years, but eventually fall out of favor. Today, flat design, handmade aesthetic, and hipster badges are the cat’s pajamas – but they’re already oversaturated trends. A few of those logos might last down the line, but most of them look indistinguishable from the next.
Rather than riding a wave of what’s cool now, you need something that truly represents your company, and will strike a chord with your customers on a number of levels. Is a brush pen script logo the best thing for your company? It might be, but coming to that conclusion should be based on research, planning, and an extensive ideation process – not just because it looks pretty cool right now. Which leads me to my next point:
Hire a designer at a professional marketing company
Anyone with enough free time can learn to use Adobe Illustrator, and even make things that look pretty neat. But there is large valley between being able to make something that gets a lot of likes on Instagram, and making something that works for your business and gets results. There’s also just as wide of a gap between designing a logo and building a brand identity. One can be done in a day by a single person; the other takes a team of people with the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to do the hours of research, strategy, and execution. But the difference in end result is day and night.
If you’re looking for that team, then look no further. With decades of combined experience in design and marketing we can help your business with more than just a logo – we’ll help you build a brand that lasts.