The Art of “Keeping It Simple”

By Sana Khan , Aug 6 2012
simple logos

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The “Keep it simple, stupid!” (KISS) approach can be applied to virtually any field or industry. This design principle was articulated by the American engineer, Kelly Johnson. Graphic design is a specific industry that has adapted this approach, especially with logo design and the hundreds of new logos coming to life every day. In this budding industry, it’s important to know about the simple vs generic logo design battle that’s fought everyday in an attempt to be original.

With so much competition, designers strive to come up with unique and innovative designs that would become recognizable. While there is certainly no substitute for hard work, sometimes the KISS approach works really well here.

The main idea is to stick to the basics by keeping the design simple, which could lead to a great logo. Many designers think this leads to a design that is too generic; we’re here to explain that’s not always the case.

Generic Logos Explained

A generic logo is a design that is too common and you tend to see variations of the same design being used repeatedly. This often leads to trademark issues – whether it is trying to file for a trademark or trademark infringement issues if the design similarities are too obvious, while the basic idea remains the same. Companies that invest lots of money in their brand image don’t want to run into such problems.

generic logo designs
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Generic logos are mostly based on unoriginal and overused images. A common example would be the roof image used for a real estate company or using a tooth for a dentist’s office. With this, there is a chance of these becoming derivative designs. That being said, it’s better to steer clear of overused, generic logos. Which is why it is important that business owner understands the significance of a unique logo design.

It’s always smart, on the designer’s behalf, to ask the client what they’re looking for. Be sure to explain that while there’s no harm in using a roof image for their real estate company, an original logo will stand out and not get lost in a sea of overused images (in this case, other businesses with roof designs).  Ultimately, the choice lies with the business owner.

Logos Simplified

Simple logos are not generic logos; their overall design layout is unique. What’s simplistic are the design attributes. Maybe the logo uses a standard black and white color scheme or there is no background layout. Take the Wal-Mart logo for instance, the asterisk (or sun, depending how you view it) has become the recognizable symbol of that brand. Another example would be the M in McDonald’s, the golden arches of the M can stand alone and be recognized internationally.

symbolic logos, symbols and simple logo designs
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After looking at famous brands, you will notice that almost all have a more simplistic logo. These logos are memorable and unique without over doing it. Using the example of a dental logo again, you don’t necessarily need to use a generic tooth design. What you could use is a toothbrush or sparkle.

Designers must research to make sure the logos they create are not identical to any other. While business owners opting for a simple logo should stress that they want unique symbols used. Just because you want your logo to stand out doesn’t, mean it has to be complex.

Clients should have a faith in their designers, especially when it comes to understanding the difference between generic and simple logo designs. It is often the simplistic logos that make the biggest impact. As a designer, you just need a little creativity and originality.

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