Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is

I receive many questions from both clients and other designers asking me “What makes a good logo?” Instead of focusing on what makes a logo look good (because we all know we can argue that point for days based on personal taste), I thought it would be best to focus on what makes a logo work well – a better question to ask yourself while designing a logo is “How flexible is the logo?”

Below are 5 tips and attributes your logo should have in order to work well, increase its flexibility and help it work better in more situations.

1. Works well in black, reversed-out and full color

A good logo should be created to work in black, reversed-out (white) and color. Many of times designers start to create their logo by introducing color right away. This often takes away from the concept because your mind is more focused on the “pretty colors.”

2. Works well in various sizes

Logos should be scalable and work well both large and small sizes. Try to avoid logos and marks that are overly complicated. As the old KISS saying goes, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Especially with logos being implemented favicons, on signage and business cards, logos need to be size flexible.

3. Ambidextrous

Logos should be able to work both horizontally and vertically. Typically, in most cases, I provide my clients with two variations to their logos, especially if the logo design was intended to be vertical – horizontal logos seem to work well on websites. It’s always good to make sure you’re logo is a switch hitter :)

4. Flexible logos are vector-ized

When creating a logo, you should be using vector-based software, such as Adobe Illustrator. This will give you the ability to provide various file formats and scalable logos. Typically I like to provide clients with various types of file formats, this way they have different files to implement into various programs they use.

5. Readable

Not only does a logo mark need to work well at various sizes but so does the text. When creating the mark at a smaller size try increasing the character spacing. This will help improve readability, especially when shrunken down and viewed from afar. Are you able to scale your logo without losing clarity?

Is your logo flexible? What other tips would you add to the above to make your logo work well in more instances?

Discussion and Comments

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  1. Logo Cafe says:

    I agree with you 100%. A successful logo design is more than just jumping on the latest trend, it’s also about making sure that the logo is functional everywhere it’s used.

    Thanks for the great post and good reminders. :-)


  2. Maciej says:

    Great tips! I enjoyed the reading and I think for further reading&another tips people should also look here: (10 Common Mistakes In Logo Design – smashingmagazine)

    Thanks for a great article,

  3. Great write-up. I am often amazed that these suggestions are so often ignored.

  4. Quality information, thank you! Good logos should be practical as well. I love the advice about how some logos don’t make sense in black and white, and they need to!

  5. Preston Lee says:

    Great tips, Brian. I’ve seen these same tips a million times but I LOVe how you have summed it all up in one word: flexible. That’s a great word to keep in the front of your mind while designing any logo. Thanks.

  6. Great post, Brian. Thanks. Excellent content and easy-to-read layout.

    I will takeaway and remember your points as CRAVeS: Colour, Size, Ambidextrous, Vectorized, Readable.

    Afterall, everybody CRAVeS a good logo, don’t they? ;)
    Cheers, Robin.

  7. CJ Cipriano says:

    Its sort of ironic how making something so simple can be so difficult, logos truly test your imagination.
    Great Tips!

  8. Design Guy says:

    Thanks for the tips!

    For me, if i need to make a logo, first, i try to list through pages of best-known ones to get inspired.. then yes, after you make it, you should try to manipulate it in many ways to find out how to improve it..

  9. nOeL says:

    Short and sweet article! I just finished a logo design at work, and I still have a lot of training to do. The “suits” were happy with their choice after tons of revisions. This is bookmark-worthy! Thanks again! :)

  10. Luis Lopez says:

    Those kind of tips for logo design, you can find enywhere on internet and books but when you see logos out there really unflexible……. we know in some place the message is not passing, evene me i’ve commited some errors, but now i wont forget it.
    I also think the logo must be simple as simple as possible, to become something easy to remember in either color or size.
    Great Post!!!

  11. These are the most important tips you could ever put out there. It is unbelievable how many designers overlook these rules. Every design student should see this post (and some clients too!)

  12. Ezrad Lionel says:

    Nice Nice. It was nice. Nicely done. Good tips. I was hoping for more actually. Lists seldom make sense.

  13. Dan Tran says:

    Very nice tips. This’ll make a nice list to follow when making logos from scratch. :)

  14. UPrinting says:

    Those are very useful. People better keep them in mind when designing their own logo. Thanks for sharing! :)

  15. Faizan says:

    I think one point you missed out is that a logo must also be adaptable to different colors. For example the nike logo is adapted to various sports with different colors. Btw great post.

  16. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips To Make Sure Yours Is [...]

  17. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is | The Design Cubicle [...]

  18. Doc4 says:

    This is a really good article. I know a good deal of this is internal but it’s nice to see it written out as good practice.

  19. naniprints says:

    Good points, all. I would add that a spot color option is still an important format to accommodate inexpensive or small quantity 2-color printing applications, such as business cards and invitations.

    Although a 4-color-process option is good to include for applications like magazine ads, you have much less control over the color match when printing 4-CP than spot (PMS) colors. Designers should check a Pantone Color Bridge to ascertain that the desired colors will translated well to 4-CP builds.

    The other factor that still matters is to test the color version to be sure it can be reproduced by a B&W photocopier or grayscale scan. Some colors, most notably “non-repro” turquoise blues, will disappear! Others, like reds, will read as solid black. An easy way to test is to photocopy the range of Pantone fan pages closest to the desired color.

    One last logo variation often left out of the deliverables is a simplified version suitable for garment embroidery.

  20. Brian says:

    Fantastic points and suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  21. naniprints says:

    You’re welcome, Brian. I’ve really been enjoying your blog. Your passion for the craft shines! You can find more arcane-but-relevant information about printing for design on my Printing Disasters blog, I write with graphic designers (my favorite people!) in mind. ~ Nani

  22. [...] boat completely. For a nice, quick explanation of logo design 101, check out these fantastic posts: Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is, from The Design Cubicle and 10 Common Mistakes in Logo Design from Smashing [...]

  23. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is [...]

  24. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is [...]

  25. Sara says:

    Thanks for the great post and great advice! I’m a budding logo/graphic/web designer, and I DEFINITELY know I’ll be using these points to influence my next designs!

  26. gary says:

    Good reminders Brian. I always design logos in b/w first. I always think of the logo being used in the worst scenario, ex. newspaper ad, where b/w logo will be small and newspaper print production quality poor. If logo works under these conditions it will work at any size and any color.
    I always get the client to sign off on the b/w logo design before adding color. I find color distracting for the client, when all they need to see is the form + substance.

  27. msquare says:

    Excellent post, Brian. All good advice for designers to keep in mind. I agree with naniprints about low-budget spot color variations.

    A well-designed logo also transcends language barriers. And a truly great logo can stand on its own without any further explanation as to who you are or what you’re selling.

  28. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is Nice! – Good Logos are FLEXIBLE (tags: design webdesign graphics graphic graphicdesign ideas identity to bestpractices) [...]

  29. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is Nice! – Good Logos are FLEXIBLE (tags: design webdesign graphics graphic graphicdesign ideas identity to bestpractices) [...]

  30. yew says:

    hey, Brian..

    nice article.. :D

    but i wanna ask bout point no. 5 : Readability
    is it ok to change the font tracking on logo when you resizing it? i never know it allowed.. >.<

  31. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips to make sure yours is [...]

  32. [...] versatility is key. As Brian says, a good logo should be extremely flexible. It should look good and remain readable at various sizes and work as well in black and white as it [...]

  33. chriaf says:

    I really appreciate your cooments Brian….


  34. [...] For another perspecitve on successful use of color for logo design, check out Brian Hoff’s post on flexibility. [...]

  35. [...] Good Logos Are Flexible: Tips To Ensure Yours Are [...]

  36. Joni says:

    Wonderful article for logo designers. I specially found “5. Readable” helpful. I have spaced out the text more on the small logo taglines, but never considered doing it to the main logo text for when it is printed smaller. So you do a few different versions of the logo design for different print sizes?

  37. well beign a logo design specialist i really enjoyed the article and i believe itsa master piece.

  38. Adam Cleaner says:

    this sucks. i need a logo for my cleaning company so i have done so much reasearch lately to make sure when i go with a logo design company, i have an idea of what i want, however all this research has made me even more confused :(

  39. Thanks for the tips Brian. Especially #5 – I hadn’t considered doing this, and am working on a logo right now that could definitely go with a little extra tracking at a smaller size!

    Cheers – and great blog!

  40. dresses says:

    this sucks. i need a logo for my cleaning company so i have done so much reasearch lately to make sure when i go with a logo design company, i have an idea of what i want, however all this research has made me even more confused

  41. The one thing I would add is that you have to be careful when putting text onto an image which is too busy. It is really important that the text doesn’t become too confused with the background.

  42. [...] As you can see, A Special Need’s logo clearly works at varying sizes because of the not over complicated mark and works well as black, reversed out (white) and color. It can also be easily adaptable to fit vertical and horizontal positioning and has a meaningful mark which represents the company’s objectives and goals—all which help a logo become more flexible. [...]

  43. Logo Design says:

    thanks for sharing. i agree with u 100%. logos should be designed for all times catering to all sorts of audiences. it represents the image of the company.

Brian Hoff
About Brian Hoff: Designer, Writer and Speaker

I’m a graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York who loves creating compelling and useful websites and memorable interactions across the web. When I’m not designing I can be found writing, speaking and occasionally part-time teaching at colleges — all on the subject of design. I started this blog to share my passion and experiences with designers and clients. I'm most active on Twitter; say hello: