In the pursuit of a new logo, everybody wants a swoosh, golden arches, or mouse ears. But the fact of the matter is finding a single mark that does all that work for your brand isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes research, design exploration and a healthy dose of passion to find the logo that fits your organization.

When Rockingham County, NC, needed a refreshing new look to boost tourism and economic development, a new logo was critical to that effort’s success. After all, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your favorite brands? A logo is the face of your brand, and the most iconic designs share essential traits that give them lasting life in the minds of the audience. Let’s explore three crucial design guidelines that every great logo lives by:

1. It Reflects Your Brand Image

Rockingham County is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The primary focus of their re-branding efforts was on their rivers and natural outdoor habitats. The last thing they needed was a logo you’d see all over an Apple store. We settled on earthy hues of blue, green and orange, and an angular design that traced the outline of the county in order to keep the look grounded.

Modern logos can be fascinating. Vivid colors, winding geometrics, sleek new fonts—there’s some incredible work happening in the logo world. But if a logo design doesn’t fit the image of your organization, then it’s best to avoid it at all costs. With a mark rooted in the county’s most prominent aesthetic, Rockingham County could immediately bring the county’s strengths to the forefront and define what they were all about in the eye of the beholder.

2. It’s Focused on Your Message

Faced with some tumultuous PR surrounding the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill, Rockingham County had an urgent message they needed to convey to their audience: When you’re here, you’re in a good place. We addressed the message straightaway with a new tagline, but it wasn’t enough to leave it at that. Every aspect of the design was meant to feel welcoming, affirming and natural, from the colors, to the imagery and even the font.

You can say so much in a logo without saying anything at all. Tone, color and composition are essential tools of communication. For Rockingham County, this is reflected in the leaves of tree, with the six green leaves representing the county’s six municipalities, and the orange leaves representing growth of the natural habitats and the economy. Maintaining focus on what the county needed to say added depth to even the smallest details of the logo.

3. It’s Simple

There are a lot of compelling attractions in Rockingham County we could have centered the branding on. The area boasts four interconnected rivers: the Dan, Haw, Mayo, and Smith. The landscape is rich with development opportunities. The natural resources are abundant. At the start of the project, we explored them all, but ultimately narrowed down the most essential element to represent visually: the river and where it has the potential to take you.

Simple goes a long way in logo design. The winding river in the center of Rockingham County’s logo was deliberately left simple with a neutral white coloration so that it might also be interpreted as a trail, a road or the base of a tree. Just as Nike’s swoosh illustrates their greater commitment to action, so too does the river and tree portray the county’s commitment to the potential of their natural habitats.

Having a lot of good ideas is never a bad thing—you should see the wall in our conference room when we get brainstorming on a new project! But simplified, intentional logo design will always rise to the top when the editing scissors start cutting. That’s when good logos become great and start breaking new ground for your brand.

Ready to make your mark? Get in touch with us and let’s start exploring what makes your brand stand out.

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