5 Cardinal Rules of Logo Design

If a visual brand was alive then its logo would be the heart, mind and soul. A good logo encompasses everything a brand represents in the clearest way possible, aiming to leave a lasting impression on anyone that views it. Logo designers are some of the most respected professionals in the graphic design industry, so what exactly does it take to make a great logo? Read on to discover the 5 cardinal rules of logo design and how you can incorporate them in your work today.

They are everywhere

To start, let’s wake up for our morning routine. Our phone alarm rings, chances are you have either an apple symbol or Samsung logo on the back of your phone. Next, we open our fridge to get out the milk for our coffee, that is already three more logos. Hell… even our kettle has a logo, not to mention our toilet! Logos are so entrenched in our day to day living that we forget they are there. Yet, they prove to be a powerful marketing tool to differentiate between companies and products. 

They are evolving

Companies are constantly adapting to be as competitive as possible. For example, nothing illustrates this point clearer than the 100-year ‘soda war’ between Pepsi and Coke. Looking at the timeline of their logos, we can see that Pepsi initially used a red curly font that Coke is better known for today. However, in the 1950s Pepsi made a push to differentiate themselves with a modern design that eventually evolved into something completely different. Market shares show the companies are still neck and neck, so it is up to you to decide which brand came on top!

Essential Rules of Logo Design | Strohacker Design School

7 Types of Logo

Continuing to use Pepsi and Coke here as an example, over the years both brands have experimented with different types of logos. Generally, there are seven types of logos recognised in design: abstract mark, mascot logo, combination logo, emblem logo, lettermark, pictorial mark and wordmark. 


In the 1950s, Pepsi moved from a wordmark logo to a combination logo and today uses both an abstract and wordmark logo together. However, despite their differences, both Pepsi and Coke follow the same essential logo design rules.

5 cardinal rules of logo design

Why do we need rules to design a logo? The main purpose of a logo is to be seen and recognised and your client will not be happy if your design falls short of the mark (literally!). As a designer, it is your responsibility to ensure the logo is suitable for a wide range of placements from a billboard to a television advert. 

Luckily, these 5 cardinal rules of logo design should help you notice any shortfalls:

  1. Ability to invert in black and white
  2. It is really important that your logo can be placed on both a light and dark background. 

  3. Clearly visible both large or small
  4. Make sure your logo is legible from up close and far away.

  5. Unique to your brand
  6. Do market research and ask colleagues if your logo looks different to other brands.

  7. Visually balanced
  8. Your design does not have to be symmetrical but it needs to be balanced. 

  9. Fit both square and rectangle
  10. If your logo is very tall or wide you might need to create two versions that can be used for both square and rectangular placements. 

    If you follow these rules we guarantee your logo will be ready to be spread far and wide. Happy designing!

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5 Cardinal Rules of Logo Design | Strohacker Design School

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