“An arrow, in and of itself, is one of the most mundane graphic devices in visual communications.” Lindon Leader, designer of fedex logo
Is it unique? Has it been done before? Is it a visual cliché? These are questions that must be asked of any logo design. In reality, what makes a logo memorable is a mixture of luck, creativity and repetition. Here are two things that can be done to make a logo more memorable.
Avoid the Obvious
First and foremost, skip the first idea. Nine out of 10 times, the first idea is also every other designer's first idea. If the logo is for a coffee company, showing a coffee bean or a coffee cup is not going to be memorable. If it’s a water purifier logo, don't do a drop. And if it’s an organic based logo, don't use a leaf!
Incorporate a Hidden Element
Another way to make a logo memorable is to build into it something which gives it an “aha moment.” In other words, something that is not immediately obvious but, when found, gives one a small surprise. This small surprise will do a lot in making people remember the logo. A prime example is the FedEx logo, with its hidden arrow. In its case, the arrow's meaning is fairly obvious but only works because it is hidden. In the Amazon logo, the hidden message is less obvious, creating a bigger “aha moment.”
To discover how memorable 10 famous logos are, check out Branded in Memory, a project by Signs.com that asked 156 Americans to draw the logos from memory as accurately as they could. The result is a collection of more than 1,500 drawings created over a period of 80 hours with more than a few surprises. And some important lessons for creating a memorable logo.