Mark Twain said “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” This is a brilliant quote about the difficulty of condensing a topic, versus the long-hand version. The same can be said for designing.

In advertising, the company logo is the “short letter” that Mark Twain didn’t have time to write.

Companies need product guides that end up being an elaborate brochure, describing every aspect of a soon-to-be released product. This would include: a long description of the product, photos from every angle, and a killer sales pitch. It is a big project, with lots of detail, about a small product. As a designer you have to adjust layout, color, and keep track of a lot of details when working with a large project like this.

On the other end of the spectrum is a company logo.  A logo is meant to be an easily recognizable symbol for the company as a whole. There is so much thought and passion that goes into the building of each business, and trying to capture that in a 2-inch by 2-inch symbol is daunting at best.

As a business owner you don’t have to know exactly what you want, but it does help to have an idea of the things you would not want to see in a logo. If you hate the color orange, or if sloths weird you out, let the designer know. It could save time and money in the proofing process if the designer knows of a couple of things to avoid.

In general, keeping it as simple as possible is the best option. A logo has to work in black and white and color, and still make sense when only 2-inches in size. It can be tempting to continuously add more elements to a logo the more you consider everything that the company stands for, but resist that temptation.


The goal is to capture the main point of the company in the most simplistic way possible. Nike’s logo, for example, was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for $35. The company Blue Ribbon Sports was starting a running-shoe line called “Nike” named after the Greek goddess of victory. The Nike “swoosh” is an abstract angel wing, simple and to the point. The “swoosh” sums it up in one symbol, and Nike is clearly and easily recognized by this design.

Look at companies like Apple Co., Target and Nike. Keeping it simple can make for the clearest logo.