Detailed Logos, Solutions for Making it Work

Logo Design Example by Jack and Mo
A detailed logo design can be limiting, however, don’t let those limitations stop you from exploring and enjoying rich color and detail. Read below for the two biggest potential issues and simple solutions.


Potential Issue: A design rich in detail and color can be tough to decipher when scaled down.

Solution: Have a secondary version of the logo limiting detail. View the design at a range of sizes to ensure readability.

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Complexly Simple

A few weeks ago, a client stated that among the most important factors for her new branding, she wanted a design that was complexly simple.Whenever I need to ponder a thought, I typically get up from my desk and walk around a bit, refresh my coffee, walk outside; this is exactly what I did after reading this.

Complexly simple? Is she requesting the impossible? How can I achieve two antonyms in one design?

The more I thought about this, the more I realize how gravely important the “complexly simple principle” is for any design concept: branding, studio art, interior design, motion design.

A design too simple can pose the problem of being forgettable. A design too complex can become messy and revolting. (Studies show the brain associates difficult words, images with danger and risk.)

So, how can one achieve both- simple and complex?

I’ve reduced the complexly simple design principle to 4 actionables:

Allow the eye to move freely. Create white space, spacing between elements, patterns for the eye to follow. Most viewers review a space beginning at the top left and ending at the bottom right. Consider this viewing pattern.
Viewing Pattern

Develop balance or symmetry. Symmetry is most often considered beautiful. “In the natural world, anything symmetrical is usually alive. Animals, for instance, have symmetrical shapes.” -V.S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego

Depict details that become memorable. Create elements that stand out and “stick.” “Is it so memorable, in fact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?” -Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Create an experience. Have a core idea that is consistent for users to develop emotional attachments. “The only way to do this is to develop a real understanding of the target audience.”-Forbes “Rethink experiences from ground up to create magical moments.” -Tony Fadell, former SVP of iPod Division at Apple

Less is more, but too little is not enough.

“But simplicity is really about comprehension and clarity of purpose…can we design such that people instantly understand what’s going on and make a confident decision about what to do next?” –52 Weeks of UX

The Key to a Successful Logo Design

Simple is best. Yes, I said it! And mean it. Do I cringe while writing this because I make a living by creating logos? Not a chance. I want to share what I’ve learned after developing thousands of logos for companies around the world. A business needs a recognizable mark- which may mean a chosen typography style and/or color palette and iconic image.

But what solidifies your brand is how you style everything else and what design elements you choose to style with your logo. The act of creating a visual cohesiveness that you use throughout solidifies your brand.

Think of your top 3 favorite brands- maybe a boutique retailer, hotel or magazine. What do their logos look like? In most cases, I’d bet they are clean logotypes (a logo built from typography only).

W magazine's logo, a typeset serif W

*above: W magazine’s logo, a typeset serif W

Building your brand requires a lot of work and consistency beyond creating a logo, so consider staying away from too much color, lots of detail, and things that are difficult to reprint. Versatility is key.

However, if you want a detailed and colorful logo, consider having a secondary, more simple version of the logo that works well at various sizes and can be printed easily.

Consider building visual unity through:

▸ a brand color palette
▸ mood board
▸ signature images and photographs
▸ custom artwork
▸ business collateral


Simplicity and consistency help achieve professionalism and trust- a way to visually say “I’m good at what I do.”.