Marketing your business can sometimes feel like you’re at war. Each day you battle to pass your message on to your customers.

The opponent? Your competitors.

As you explore ways to dazzle with your logo, you’ll likely discover that it’s a challenging task. But before you fill the recycle bin with the crumpled remains of your brainstorming sessions, consider how some of the most famous—and most effective—logos came to be.

But, first, why should you go to such great lengths to create an exceptional logo for your business?

Why are logos important, anyway?

Logos help to give your business a brand identity. According to research by MIT Sloan, they present a great opportunity for you to communicate directly with your customers and to foster a strong positive association with your business and its products or services.

A strong logo also serves as an easy way for your consumers to quickly think of your business. This recall is essential when it comes to choosing your business over your competitors.

Here are 6 design lessons you can learn from famous logos that will help you evaluate logos as you embark on the journey of creating your own.

Lesson 1: it’s all about the KISS

Fedex logo

When you want to create a logo for your business, use the KISS principle (Keep it Simple Stupid). Don’t make it too complicated.

Consider the FedEx. They used the first few letters from their name to form their logo. A closer look at the deceptively simple logo shows there is an arrow pointing between the E and X. This universal symbol represents the courier company’s speed, accuracy and precision.

Key takeaway: Less is truly more when it comes to logo design. Consider using a simple logo to represent your ideas and values just like Fedex has done so well. It’s not a mistake that some of the most valuable companies (according to Forbes Magazine) have chosen simple logo designs.

Lesson 2: color counts

Make good use of color in your logo design. A strong color palette will show prospective customers what you stand for and what your product can give them. Strategic use of color will also imprint your company’s name in your customer’s mind.

F1 logo
Via Flickr

Formula One racing, popularly known as F1, uses color to illustrate what their product is all about by juxtaposing black against a bold red. Here, black represents power and determination while red demonstrates the passion and energy that are essential components of car racing. The one in the name is formed in the negative space between letter F and the red racing stripes.

Key takeaway: Use the right colors to make a strong statement with your logo. Learn which logo colors might be right for your business.

Lesson 3: vamp up the versatility

Apple over the years
Apple over the years
Apple over the years

A good logo needs to be versatile. It must be presentable in every format and every size. Think about the apple logo. It started with a picture of Isaac Newton eating an apple under a tree, with the words “Apple Computer Co.” From there, it transitioned to a simple image of a bitten apple in multicolored stripes. Then, in 1998, the company rebranded its logo to a monochrome black apple logo, eventually landing on the present silver color emblazoned on all Apple products.

The elegant design of apple’s current logo is compatible with any of the company’s devices: ipad, iphone and computers. It can be printed on anything, in any size. The monochromatic silver color is also significantly more cost effective than the multi colored apple from years past.

Key takeaway: Make sure the logo you choose is able to be printed on anything, in any size without compromising its design.

Lesson 4: get shape savvy

Nike logo
Image via Pixabay

Shapes have always been used by designers to illustrate ideas in logos. One of the best use of a shape in a logo is Nike’s “swoosh.” The famous logo was designed by a university student to represent motion. She was asked to design a logo that encapsulated the speed of running that would also able to fit onto a shoe.

Key takeaway: If you are having a hard time finding the the perfect logo for your business, try using a shape to represent your product or service.

Lesson 5: symbols rule

Toyota symbol
Via Wikipedia

Symbols are another effective option for logo design. Using a symbol helps to create a unique identity for your brand and can lead to instant customer recognition. Consider Toyota’s logo. The car company’s ingenious logo is comprised of three ellipses depicting the company’s three areas of focus: the customer, the product and progress in technology.

Key takeaway: When designing your business logo, look for a symbol that encapsulates the heart of your product or service and the essence of your brand.

Lesson 6: think long lasting

Before you make the financial and energetic commitment to creating a logo, think of the future. You want your business to be represented by a logo that that you will feel as good about in five years—or 10 years—as you do today. According to Warren Buffett, you should buy something you will be happy to hold for at least a decade. The same goes for your logo design.

Logo of shell Petroleum

Check out Shell’s timeless logo. Story has it that founder Marcus Samuel and his employees sold kerosene in India. Upon returning to London, they would bring back sea shells to sell in European markets. Their seashell business became so popular that they used the name “shell” in an iteration of the company’s name: The Shell Transport and Trading Company. They started using a scallop shell as their logo in 1904 and that logo still stands today. They added the colors red and yellow in 1915.

There are many companies that changed their logos several times and with no adverse effects. Others were not so lucky. Altering your logo can confuse your customers, even influence the trust they put in your brand. But there are legitimate reasons to consider a logo redesign from technological advances to company growth to change of leadership/ownership and so on.

Key lesson: Look at the logo you want to use for your business and ask yourself if you will be happy waking up to this logo everyday for the next ten years? If not, it’s time to go back to the logo drawing board. You can change your company logo just once or twice in a lifetime to keep up with changing times (and changes in your company). But change it a few more times and customers may feel that they can’t trust your business.

It’s time to create a great logo

With visions of fame and fortune dancing in their heads, many entrepreneurs and business owners pour their hearts, minds and loads of cash into creating a perfect logo. Unfortunately, many end up with a logo that relays an inaccurate message—or no message at all.

But that won’t happen to you. Nope. You’ve now learned six crucial lessons from six hugely successful logos. You are ready to work with your designer to create a logo that represents the values and mission of your business perfectly—a logo that will stand out from the crowd and stand the test of time.

Are you ready to create a logo that will drive your business success? Start a logo design contest today!