Getting the right logo can often be the hardest part of building a brand. It’s the one mark that defines you in the marketplace. It’s the holy grail of how you should look. Right?

Actually no.

Often businesses get themselves worked up in a frenzy, trying to make their logo the next Mona Lisa. What ends up happening? The logo becomes over-complicated instead of being a simple and succinct mark. No question, your logo will lead the charge in your brand efforts. But it really is just one piece of the branding and marketing puzzle.

Take a look at some of the most famous brands out there. Think Apple. Nike. Google.

What do all of these brands have in common? They’re simple. These logos are simple sign-offs to some of the most powerful messages in the world.

How is it that the simplest logos are almost always the most effective? Here’s why.

See Also: 4 Reasons to Brand Your Business

A simple logo makes you look more professional

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.14.13 PMTake a look at the logo to the right: we all collectively cringe when we see a logo like this.

And yet, when it comes to our own logo, we think:

I want my logo to say everything. And by committing to having our logo say everything, we end up with a hodgepodge that really says nothing.

Worse, a complicated, over-designed logo actually screams that you’re small potatoes and that perhaps you hired the nephew of your neighbor who created this logo for an art project. Logos with all of the “bells and whistles” will actually turn away potential customers who will think “Geez, this business must just be starting out.”

A simple logo is better in a digital environment

Complicated logos are bad enough in print. But, they’re horrific in the digital environment—especially if someone’s looking at your website on a mobile phone.

What’s wonderful about the digital environment is how fluid and malleable it is. But what’s frustrating about this environment is how little control you have. So give yourself a leg-up by creating a simple logo that can hold its own in this ever-changing digital world.

See Also: Branding Checklist: 10 Essentials Before Launch [Free Download]

A simple logo allows for more creative expression

This one’s counterintuitive.

We think to ourselves: I’m going to show the world that my business has got real style. And so we load up our logo with swirls and icons that paint an elaborate picture.

We might be a beauty salon and we think gosh, my hairstyles are so transformative that my clients come in looking like a caterpillar and leave looking like a butterfly. Eureka! My logo should be a butterfly perched above a mane of tousled hair.

The picture is not pretty—even by itself. But now imagine you’re creating a flyer for a Labor Day event. You have photos and boxes of important information. But then you add your butterfly logo and suddenly your message gets buried under a tousle of hair.

I’m exaggerating a bit here. But you see what I’m driving at.

Now, let’s think of Nike and the campaigns they’ve done. When they show the poster of the basketball player soaring in the air, their simple logo is a powerful anchor to a riveting ad.

A simple logo has a broader appeal


Symbols say so much. They’re the universal language we all speak.

But often, a symbol can say one thing to one person, and something totally different to another. We all have a lifetime of collective experiences, and these experiences color how we view the visual world.

A simple logo with well-crafted typography and an understated mark has much greater odds of appealing to more people. Think about how effective the Target logo has been. As soon as you see that bullseye, you know it’s Target. That’s the power of simplicity.

Now think about the myriad of famous brands that have no mark. Gap, Nordstrom, and Google are great examples. The job of these logos is to have broad appeal. These companies recognized that adding a mark could narrow the effectiveness of the brand in the marketplace.

See Also: Business Branding Guide

A simple logo goes the distance


Let’s go back to our friends at Apple, the leaders in keeping things simple.

Even they had to re-think their logo. The initial rainbow-colored logo was just too fussy. And so over the years, the Apple branding team whittled the logo to the breath of fresh air it is today. Simple, and yet so distinctive.

It’s not to say that any logo with a more decorative mark will fail. Starbucks has done just fine with their mermaid. But even they had to re-visit their logo a few years ago to refine and simplify it.

So make your life easier and make your logo simpler. Your employees, your customers, your vendors, and all of those who come into contact with your logo will thank you.

Business Startup Guide

AvatarElicia Putnam

Elicia Putnam believes in brands. After running a boutique branding agency for 12 years, she's now turning her attention to Small Business, USA and how to bring them branding services in a way that's affordable and fun. She and a group of really smart co-founders have started Brand Genie, the world's first fully automated branding agency.