Designing a logo is one of the toughest parts of creating an identity for your small business. In fact, it’s such a tough process that many large companies have spent a significant amount – often millions of dollars – on the task.

While you don’t need to spend millions of dollars to get a good logo, you do need to understand the basics of logo design. Even if you’re not personally designing your logo, knowing the fundamentals will help you get the best results.

In this blog post, we’ll cover five fundamental principles of logo design that you can use to make your company’s logo stand out more, properly define your brand, show off your best qualities and project the values you want to project.

Keep it nice and simple

The best logos are always the simplest. Shell’s classic shell-shaped icon. Apple’s half-bitten apple. Nike’s iconic swoosh. When your logo is nice and simple, it’s far easier for your target audience to remember.

Many small businesses make the mistake of thinking that their logo has to capture all aspects of their business. It doesn’t; all it needs to do is give the public an idea of what your business is about.

Be as original as possible

There’s no use copying or adapting someone else’s logo to save time or money. Not only could you face a potential trademark lawsuit; you’ll also miss out on the brand recognition that an original logo can produce for you.

Don’t copy or imitate your competitors or companies you like. Instead, be as original as possible. The logos that we remember the most tend to be distinctly different and undeniably unique – copies and imitators tend to be quickly forgotten.

Use high-contrast colors

From Silicon Valley technology companies to oil and gas suppliers, the best company logos always use high-contrast colors. Think of Facebook’s blue and white or Shell’s yellow and red – they’re packed with contrast and easy to identify from afar.

Your logo will play a prominent role in your advertising, so it needs to be clear and distinct. Use a color combination that makes your logo clear, visible and packed with contrast to make it easy for anyone of any age to recognize.

Know your brand well

Different types of brands have different types of logos. A crisp corporate logo with a serif typeface suits a bank, not a small town gardening supply shop. Likewise, a cute and colorful logo suits a children’s daycare, not an accounting company.

The key to creating an effective logo is knowing your brand well. What are your core values? What want or need does your company solve? The best logos are matched to the brands they’re designed for – when there’s a mismatch, it tends to be obvious.

Don’t follow design trends

From grunge textures to embossed text, design trends come and go every couple of years. Designing an ultra-trendy logo might look great for now, but in a year or two it could severely date your business.

Embrace the fundamentals of timeless graphic design – simplicity, clarity and real purpose. When you latch onto trends to make your logo stand out in the present, it often damages your brand as you progress into the future.