The logo on the cup, the box, the bag, the shirt, the stationary is usually a brand’s first impression – and everyone wants to have a great first impression, right? So many see branding as an after thought but why shouldn’t the same heart, thought and effort be given to that “first impression”.  What’s the point of having a golden product if it’s branding isn’t helping to make the right impression?

So what is good branding? If there were a “Design God” it’s first 5 commandments for creating a “great” logo would be as follows:

  1.  Thou shall always be memorable
  2.  Thou shall be adaptive
  3.  Thou shall be meaningful
  4.  Thou shall be timeless
  5.  Thou shall be simple.


“Who’s that company with the golden arches”… “What’s that company with that black check mark thing”

– said no one ever.

These companies are two of the most memorable brands – not just because we are exposed to them daily and they are permanently  engraved in our brains, but because they follow many of these commandments.  An Intro to Design class at the wonderful University of Louisville has a very effective first assignment that explores commandment #1.  Students are instructed to find three logos and crop them down as small as possible right before they are no longer recognizable.  See examples below.  It’s shocking how we can still distinguish what the brand is with such little information.  Why do the names Starbucks, Harley Davidson and Adidas come to our mind while looking at these?  because they have successfully abided by the Logo Commandment 1.



Think of a Chameleon and how they change color according to the surface they’re apart of.  An adaptive logo can be seen in the same light. No matter how large or small, black or white, or if its in a newspaper or on a website.. it has to be legible.  A common resolution to this is to have different variations of a logo for certain situations. Together they all should still communicate the same look and feel.



There is a special bond between a logo and the company it belongs to, and that bond is created by a story.  Whether that story be a play off the company’s location, their product, the services they offer or by a simple name – it all has meaning.  Now that this has quickly escalated to a level of sappiness, let me give some examples of a meaningful logo:


Being able to tie meaning in a simple mark takes great skill and helps make commandment #1 happen.  Many look at this FedEx logo and just see their simple name.  If you take a closer look you’ll see that the negative space between the “E” and “x” form an arrow.  For FedEx, the arrow symbolizes moving forward, timelines and express. When the arrow becomes apparent, it’s like turning on a light bulb that will never go off – making it something that can’t be unseen.


This commandment can be a very difficult one to follow when creating the perfect logo   A timeless logo is one that will never look outdated and continues to abide by the 5 Golden Logo Commandments no matter how old it is.  It’s considered a classic.


KISS  …. Or “Keep it Simple Stupid!”

In honor of this final commandment, I’ll keep this explanation short.  A logo with clutter and fancy ornamental swirls may be lovely to look at sometimes, but unnecessary elements can quickly cause the other commandments to disappear from the logo.


If a logo can manage to follow all 5 commandments, it is a recipe for success! If your finding that you need to redesign your logo, just keep these commandments in the back of your mind and think to yourself, What Would Design God do?

Ashley is a graphic designer at strADegy Advertising in Louisville, KY. She is a proud 2011 graduate of the University of Louisville's Communication of Art and Design program. She follows a strict 80% coffee and 20% redbull diet and spends her free time instagramming her precious dog, Rosie.

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