What Makes for a Perfect Logo?

  • by Shala Graham
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A logo is a definition. It is your organization, your employees; it is the organization’s ideologies. Your logo is a constant reminder to your audience of what your brand is and the values it represents. The challenge is incorporating all those things into one mark.

The "perfect" logo is going to depend a bit on the type of organization you have. Are you an existing organization that needs updated branding to reflect an evolved or expanded mission? Or are you developing a new nonprofit that needs an identity to tell its story? When you create the logo mark that is the foundation of your branding effort, it is important to know which elements will make your logo valuable and credible. Although sometimes there are exceptions, here are just a few of the details that contribute to getting it right:


Microsoft’s logo isn’t a computer. The American Airlines logo isn’t a plane. The Xerox logo isn’t a photocopier. A logo is much more effective if it says “who we are” rather than “what we do.” A specific, literal logo like a shoe graphic would make Nike’s brand image very limited with no room for growth.

An abstract logo also has the potential to take on a life of its own with a secondary meaning. If an organization does good work, the logo will be eventually earn the secondary meaning of being an organization that does good work. Likewise, a poor logo could have the secondary meaning that your organization is not trustworthy and performs poorly.


A logo must be easy to recognize and memorable so the audience can connect with it. You want your logo to feel like the face of a familiar friend. A refined and simple logo will catch the attention of any viewer. Just remember, one of the most effective and well-known international logos in the world is just a very simple and elegant black swoosh. And one of the most recognizable non profit logos is just a red cross that you can identify even when driving by at 70 mph.


Keep in mind that once the logo is completed it will be applied to a lot of the organization’s assets. You want the logo to be just as recognizable on printed materials as it is on digital materials. An effective mark is easy to place and understand no matter where you apply it.‚Ä®Ask yourself, is the logo design still effective if:

  • Printed in one color?
  • Printed on something that is as large as a billboard?
  • Printed on something as small as a business card?
  • Printed in reverse (white on a black or colored background)?
  • Displayed on a computer screen?
  • Displayed on a phone screen?
  • Is the type still legible when resized very small?


Logos have a lot to communicate to the viewer in a very small amount of time and space. Adding more layers of complexity, such as multiple font families or a lot of graphic elements, could make your logo less effective and your visual identity seem jumbled. You want your logo to be clear and uncluttered.

THE PERFECT LOGO is part of a complete visual brand

To offer something unexpected or unique without being overbearing, good logo design requires considering your organization, your audience, and your mission. Addressing each of these pieces of your brand in a form that's easy to understand and recognize will create a strong emotional impact and a lasting impression. The logo mark is the core of your organization’s brand and must be appropriate for your story. For example, if you were designing a logo for something that is related to children, it would be appropriate to use a youthful color scheme. However, this may not be as appropriate for a nonprofit driving advocacy for a chronic disease.

Your logo is as powerful tool that potential donors, employees, and supporters will see repeatedly over the years. It represents your organization’s work and helps you build a strong, influential brand voice. Great logos matter.

Need a great logo for your organization or just want to work with professional designers in the Washington, DC, area? Contact SW Creatives today at 301-891-0111.