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Differences Between a Simple Logo and One That’s Far Too Complex

by | Apr 10, 2021 | Graphic Design | 0 comments

Your business logo is an essential part of your branding toolkit. It helps people sit up, take notice of your brand, and create loyalty among your customers. But simply putting pen to paper and creating a logo with zero thought behind it won’t do you or your business any good.

You need to design your logo with your target audience in mind. Everything about it. The logo colors, the icon, the font, the layout – everything. It needs to resonate with them and tell them the story you want to tell.

Examples of successful logos

We don’t need to look very far to find examples of successful logos: Nike’s famous Swoosh is one of the most recognizable logos on the planet. And when you see it, what springs to mind? It’s probably high-quality sports attire and feelings of empowerment and strength. It’s a fantastic brand with an equally fantastic brand message behind them. And all it takes to trigger those feelings and emotions in someone is to see their logo.

Another great example we can look at is Apple, the King of stylish and high-quality personal electronic devices like the iPhone, Airpods, and Macbook. Their branding and logo are so strong they could probably put their logo on anything, and people will be throwing money at them to buy it. That’s because when consumers see the Apple logo on a product, they know it’s going to be one of the best-looking products out there. It’ll be easy to use and feel luxurious in their hands.

Why are we talking about this?  

This is the kind of power your logo can unleash, but only if you do it correctly. In this article, we want to talk about the differences between a simple and effective logo and one that’s overly complex.

Because it’s all-too-easy when coming up with logo ideas to try and stuff as much detail, meaning, and hidden messages as you can. But the truth is, simple is often the best. It’s easy to remember, easy to recognize, and can have a much more significant effect on your audience.

Breaking down a simple logo

A lot of businesses fail to realize that customers are bombarded by ads and logos everywhere they look. There are logos and adverts at shopping centers, along the Highstreet, and increasingly on smartphones and computers.

Every business is fighting for the attention of shoppers and internet surfers. And the most successful logos are the ones that can catch their attention, make an impact, easy to recognize, and hard to forget.

And this is where simple logos enter the fray. Look again at Apple’s logo. It’s not descriptive, and it doesn’t mention anything about electronic gadgets like computers and smartphones. But it’s super easy to recognize no matter where it is. And that’s what Apple wanted – a simple logo to help increase their brand recognition.

Principles of effective logo design

By creating a simple logo, Apple was able to fulfill the 5 principles of effective logo design:

  • Simplicity – keeping your logo design simple allows you to work on hitting all of the 5 principles efficiently
  • Memorability – building brand awareness and recognition is hard enough without your audience forgetting your logo every time they see it
  • Timelessness – popular trends come and go, but a timeless logo is forever. When it comes to planning your brand identity, aim for longevity. Don’t try to hop on the latest trend or join the bandwagon hoping for a quick win.
  • Versatility – you will want to use your logo across many different mediums, both digital and printed. For this reason, your logo must be versatile enough to be scaled to any size and functional to use wherever you need it to
  • Suitability – is your logo suitable for your target audience? If you’re a law firm, your logo should be professional and appropriate. Otherwise, potential clients will be put off

If you plan to target international markets, then a simple logo is a must. You need to overcome many hurdles like diverse cultures, languages, and concepts of beauty. Just because your logo works well in America doesn’t mean it will fly so well in Asia.

Translating slogans and even your brand name may come across as rude. A while ago, Colgate launched a new toothpaste in France called “Cue,” which also happens to be the name of a popular adult magazine found locally.

The main downside to having a simple logo is that the logo may be misinterpreted or its meaning unclear until your brand establishes its character and message.

Breaking down a complex logo

Years ago, the popular trend was to have a complex logo. This was an excellent way for companies to generate free press about themselves as people would discuss at great length what their logo means and look for hidden meanings.

Designers also created complex logos to showcase their skills with the right logo colors and shapes. It’s also not unheard of for designers to whip up complex designs to impress their clients who don’t know any better or aren’t aware of a simple logo’s pros and cons versus a complex one.

Successful brands that still use complex logos are typically well-established ones. Their complex logo is a symbol of their history. It’s also a fantastic way to show customers how well established your business is.

Starbucks and Heineken are two famous brands whose complex logos have stood the test of time. That’s in part due to customers demanding they keep their old-looking logos instead of switching them to something more streamlined and straightforward.

Using a complex logo allows you to include a great deal of information in a short amount of space, whether it’s from text, images, icons, or your use of shapes and colors. Having text which includes your brand name and a tagline makes it easy for customers to understand your business and branding, same with images and symbols.

Creating a complex logo that doesn’t overwhelm your audience and meets all 5 of the logo design principles can be challenging and costly, and redundant if it doesn’t help your branding.

How Do You Choose Between Them?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer, as both complex logos and simple logos have strong cases. For example, suppose you’re trying to enter the craft beer market. In that case, consumers will expect a complex logo, such as an emblem or a logo with powerful imagery. Having a simple logo may mean they don’t take your brand seriously.

Or suppose you’re company is a young tech startup. In that case, investors may be hesitant if you have an overly complex logo because they’re expecting something sleek and straightforward that’s fit for a tech business.

Wrapping Up


If you want to convey your brand message speedily and you know who your target audience is, a simple logo can be highly effective. If you’re going to make a big impression and compete against established brands, a complex logo with intricate use of colors, images, and font styles can help get your brand noticed.

Before starting the designing phase of your logo, ensure your brand and messaging are aligned, you’ve researched your target audience, and you’ve investigated your competition to see what kind of logos work best in the market.

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