The word logo is derived from the Greek word logos, meaning “reason” or “plan.” Merriam Webster defines a logo as an identifying statement or symbol (as for use in advertising).

Every brand needs a logo. Finding an icon that represents your company is usually one of the first things you do when launching a company or product. Humans have been creating logos for thousands of years and have thus accumulated quite a bit of knowledge on the practice. Let’s start with some history on the subject and then talk about tips for creating a good logo including analysis of the logos of some iconic brands.


Logo History

Humans have been creating logo designs since we first figured out how to mash pigments from berries and rocks. From the desert to tropical rainforests, we described our life by creating pictures of humans and animals on cave walls, pottery, and carving them into rocks. Our need to tell a story with an image has not changed much in the past 70,000 years. 

The art at Blombos Cave is some of the oldest human art discovered, dating from around 70,000 BCE.
The art at Blombos Cave is some of the oldest human art discovered, dating from around 70,000 BCE.
The Diepkloof Eggshell engravings date from around 60,000 BCE.
The Diepkloof Eggshell engravings date from around 60,000 BCE.
The Lion Man was sculpted during the ice age, around 40,000 years ago.
The Lion Man was sculpted during the ice age, around 40,000 years ago.
The Lascaux Caves in France were created an estimated 20,000 years ago. These paintings are mostly of large animals which archeologists believe represent stories of hunting.
The Lascaux Caves in France were created an estimated 20,000 years ago. These paintings are mostly of large animals which archeologists believe represent stories of hunting.
In the back of the Lascaux Caves is a more literal piece of storytelling with an image called “Dead Man.”
In the back of the Lascaux Caves is a more literal piece of storytelling with an image called “Dead Man.”


As you can see, since we’ve been making spears and fire, we’ve been telling stories with images. As art gets more current, we find the images to indeed start to become defined logos.


In Egyptian hieroglyphics, you find images that depicted specific regions for certain crowns and rulers that would be identifiable by all.
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, you find images that depicted specific regions for certain crowns and rulers that would be identifiable by all. 
Hieroglyphics, petroglyphs, and Mayan glyphs are all examples of what are essentially logos or symbols with a given meaning.
Hieroglyphics, petroglyphs, and Mayan glyphs are all examples of what are essentially logos or symbols with a given meaning.


From Mayan script glyphs with specific meanings and sometimes phonetic sounds attributed to them, known as logograms, to Japanese and Egyptian glyphs, to the Knights Templar crucifix on their tunics which could be called the logo for Christianity, these glyph-like scripts can be seen in most cultures throughout human history. In other words, humans have been creating logos for a very long time and they won’t be stopping any time soon.

Logos have become the face of every company’s brand. Images that foster meaning, convey emotion, and capture attention. A well-designed logo “says” all of the things to consumers that a salesperson would want to convey in an elevator pitch. This means a logo is one of the most important parts of a new business. So, just what makes a good logo?

The design of a good logo is where things get interesting. There are millions of opinions on what makes a good logo and there are endless ways to execute a logo. All of these opinions, approaches, and executions can be broken down into a list which you may review here in the pursuit of designing an effective logo for your own business.

What makes a good logo? 

A logo should be simple
Your logo, just like all business-related communications, only has seconds to convey meaning. Simplicity reduces the time that it takes for a viewer to decipher your logomark.

A logo must speak to your brand
It is pointless to have a logo that does not communicate what you are about to a viewer. Your logo should convey the personality of your company. Your logo should immediately give an idea of what your company or product is all about

A logo should be timeless
In the early 2000’s there was a huge push on logos with swoosh elements. In a likely attempt to leverage the familiar Nike logo, these logos were everywhere and now look dated forcing many companies to rebrand to get away from this design style. Your logo should not incorporate popular elements that will eventually look dated.

A logo must work in black and white
Regardless of what color or colors you pick for a logo, it must eventually work in black and white. A common rule of thumb is to first design your logo in black and white because if this doesn’t work, it is simply not an effective logo. Companies often cannot control where their logo is placed in some partnership agreements and advertisements which can create a conflict between logos and their backgrounds. Utilizing a black and white logo mitigates the issue. 

A logo must be scalable
The size of your logo will vary greatly. Your logo will have to work just as well on a billboard as it does on a business card. For this reason it is recommended that you avoid fine lines, excessive detail, or small text. This is also why your logo must be simple. Often, when logos are used at a small size, their meaning is lost or they become unreadable.

A logo should avoid fancy effects
Sure gradients can look great and create a sense of depth that other color patterns cannot achieve. Gradients surely have their place and we are not saying to NEVER use them, only that your logo must work without them. Gradients can cause all kinds of nightmares with printing, especially if you are producing the logo at a reduced size. If you are determined to use gradients or shadows, construct the logo first with a black and white version to make sure the design works. It is also smart to have solid color options. 

Logo design elements

The way that a logo is designed can produce a few distinct elements. These elements can be broken into categories such as an icon, a text-based logo, a combination of text and logo, or a lockup which may be combined with a tagline or variable elements of text and icon.

Bluetooth is a great example of using an icon and text and using a lockup of the combination. 

Bluetooth logo

AirBnB is another logo that has an icon, text, vertical and horizontal lockups, and even a lockup with a tagline.

AirBnB Logo
AirBnB Logo
AirBnB logo with tagline

Try and avoid a logo that draws criticism. As an example, AirBnB’s logo has been complimented as effective and criticized as resembling parts of human anatomy. Sometimes brands redesign their logo to be more appealing and effective.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers redesigned their logo and the overall result is simplification of the design. In the redesign, the Tampa Bay text has been enlarged to ensure it is legible if the logo is reduced in size. Further simplification included removing the shape that enclosed the text and repositioning the sword further simplified the shape of the design. Details such as ripples in the flag have been removed and the overall result is a more appealing and simplified design. 

Buccaneers logo before and after

Firefox has repeatedly modified its logo to remove details and simplify the design. In its initial renditions, you can see a lot of detail, gradients, and a jeweling effect that was very popular in the early 2000’s. In more recent renditions, detail and gradients have been simplified and the dated jewel effect has been eliminated as well. The newest Firefox logo has also changed up the color scheme which is now much less bold and carried an almost naturalistic and organic palette.

Firefox logo history

It has taken a long time, but Reebok has finally eliminated their swoosh. The old Reebok always resembled a knockoff of the Nike logo, almost a statement of “You’ve got one swoosh, we’ve added three.” In the update, the overall text design in the Reebok logo has stayed much the same but the icon has been completely changed, almost resembling a sight reticle. Upon closer inspection, the new icon shape retains three triangular elements, similar to the original, but the bright red coloring and shape brings out a completely different emotion than the original. 

Reebok Logo before and after

Local retailer Bark n’ Purr, asked us at Murie Design Group to add a meaningful icon to their text-based logo. In the redesign, we removed the plentiful fine lines that would have been rendered unrecognizable when reduced in size. Additionally, using white inside the text further reduced visibility, a problem they attempted to be solved with the smaller N shape being filled in with color. In the new rendition, the overall text shapes have been simplified and enclosed in color shapes. The dog and cat have details like noses and collars, but this doesn’t affect the recognition of their overall shapes at a smaller size. The animals compliment the text and reinforce the fact that this is a pet-related brand. 

Bark n'Purr logo before and after

How to get a logo created

As the world of marketing has evolved, so too has your options for marketing services. You can find a plethora of design options that can help and using Google, you are no longer constrained by geography. Our team has worked for clients not only located across the country but sometimes across the world.

Freelancers
A freelancer is an independent designer. These are typically single person outfits, and in the case of logo design this person is most likely a graphic designer. The con is that with a freelancer, you may get the specific style of just one person versus multiple style options and ideas to choose from.

Ad Agencies
Full in-house ad agencies specialize in all things marketing. At an ad agency you can find designers, software developers, front and back end web development, video crews, media buyers, project managers, and marketing strategists. Often these agencies require long-term contracts and charge higher fees to cover their overhead.

Online logo designers
Online logo designers offer logos at a reduced price, often by using designers in countries where wages are much less.  Using them carries a heavy risk that whatever is used for your logo can be leveraged from other logos that have been developed on the site, meaning that your logo looks a lot like somebody else’s logo. These online design options are great for a new business that might not be concerned about creating an identifiable brand.

Murie Design Group
Murie Design Group’s historic focus on graphic design services has evolved to include other marketing services both in-house or subcontracted such as copywriting, front end web development, project management, and marketing strategy in-house. We can give you the option of working with several designers guided by an art director without requiring an agency of record contract. Get a quote on making your brand sing by reaching out to mac@murie.com