For Logos, Keep It Simple Stupid

For Logos, Keep It Simple Stupid

by Karyn Insler, December 15, 2015

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The KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid.) emerged from the Navy in the 1960s, who embraced a desire for simplistic design. In design, I’ve found that simplicity is deceptively difficult. I’m not a psychologist, but it seems humans have a natural tendency to drift toward complexity. They like to add unnecessary detail—if one thing is good, more must be better. Type seems plain? Add a shadow. One line blah? Draw two. In reality, each addition subtracts.

A logo’s job is to identify—not sell, explain, or tell a story. That’s up to marketing. As the main component of a company’s corporate identity, a logo acts as the cornerstone of their visual brand. With some forethought, research and planning, the end result should be an appropriate and recognizable image that immediately distinguishes the company. Any image that does this will usually work—whether it’s distinctive type, a symbol or mark, or a combination of both. The image can be physically separate from the words, with a shared connection via clean lines in similar weights. If it’s a symbol or mark, the image should work in a simple setting such as open space with or without the words, in colors and in grays. It should easily adapt to other formats and be easy to remember.

Consider Apple—whenever you encounter the brand, it’s in a beautiful sea of white. No song, no dance. Just a message. It’s easy on the eyes, easy on the nerves, and easy to grasp. Best of all, it focuses on the product (since the product is really the only thing there).

Remember: you’re only creating an identifier, not summing up the entire enterprise. Instead, distil your message into its essence. Erase the noise. Keep it simple stupid.