Branding Simplicity out of Complexity

January 30, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Have you ever seen a store or a company logo that’s messy, weird and misleading? Thinking about your logo is one thing, but overdoing it may just backfire.

Look at some of these examples:


Looking at the first image, I get the feeling that I should run for the nearest exit as soon as the company arrives or the transactions between them will drive me out of business. While the second is an example of how effortless and thoughtless the company would be if they did not even think about how misleading or offending the logo may be.

The award winning creative agency called Struck has helped many companies with their branding strategy. Struck’s philosophy is “making brands greater than they are”.  

The main role of your logo is to communicate what your business is all about as soon as people lay their eyes on them. If you try to say too much in an instant, it is likely that your clients and partners will either misunderstand the message or get it wrong altogether. Worst case scenario would be ending up with the impression left by the first image due to its complex logo.

To avoid unnecessary confusion and misunderstandings, it is helpful that the KISS principle is followed. KISS stands for “keep it short and simple” or “keep it simple and straightforward”.  It basically means that simplicity should be a key goal and unnecessary complexities should be avoided. It serves a useful principle not only when it comes to logos but also to disciples such as software development, motion graphic animation, photography, brand designs, etc.

So how do you keep your logo simple? There are a few easy steps to crafting a clear, simple but straightforward logo that communicates and conveys your message to the target audience instead of confusing them.Take a look at this logo from Deer Valley Resort in Utah as an example of a clean effective logo. 


  • Don’t include too many details in the icon

A logo that contains a lot of graphical and visual elements appears too busy for the public to interpret all of the information at once. Remember to keep the number of lines, shapes, and other design elements to a minimum to make the logo as clean and clear as possible. Limiting the number of elements and keeping them all at the same relative level of precision makes your logo relatively scalable. Alternately, if you dab too much detail in the design, you will encounter problems when there is a need to scale down the logo – expect some elements appearing too small or turning out less appealing when the logo is printed.

  • Separate the name and icon of your company

This is supposed to be common knowledge but there are many companies that trip in this hurdle. Some organization’s logo overlaps with the business name. This makes the picture as well as the text either hard to interpret or worse, it leads to misunderstandings.

If you layer the name of your company on top of the icon on your logo, reading your company name in an instant would be hard and it may take people a few seconds to make out the text, if at all they are able to decipher the name.  Having text on top of the icon makes it hard to grasp text, much less see it properly and identify it separately from the irregularities. Separating these two elements makes them both easier to read and understand.

Proper spacing is also important. Some company logos end up misunderstood because they failed to provide proper character spacing with the image. This can be avoided with proper observation and intensive review before the final decision of using the logo.

  • Don’t tell the story, let the logo do it for you

Your logo should be able to hint or tell the story of what your business is about. You don’t need to put explanations and unnecessary additions to the logo. Make sure that the logo is simple and capable of being remembered in a good way.

Keep in mind that there are four things to remember when thinking about what your logo will stand for:

  1. The business or brand itself
  2. Who you can best help
  3. What makes you unique from all the completion
  4. The types or services of products you offer

If you’re trying to tell a complicated story, then your logo design would probably need too much elements to communicate the message efficiently. But then again, simplicity can never lose in the long run.

Just like the nice symphony of a song, these points must work in harmony. They basically sing the same tune in improving your image, conveying your story, as well as building an image for your company.  The different elements in your logo should blend well together rather than outshine each other with too many distinct and overly busy elements which confuse the viewer on lack of unifying focal point.

Don’t think too much about making your logo overly simple either. A good and effective way of seeing what simplicity in logos is by thinking about the brands and logos that you are most familiar with. In other words, put aside the fact that it is your company or brand and assume the stance of a regular consumer. This method is not only effective when choosing logo designs but also helpful when thinking about your future brand designs, products, and services.

If you’re a young, vibrant and company that can wait longer for to establish your brand or you do not mind wasting resources, then no one can stop you from being experimental with your logo.

As a famous quote from Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “Learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” – that said, simple logo remains the ultimate choice for the wise.