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When is a logo too simple?

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Simple Logo

Simplicity in logo design is what makes a logo memorable and easier to recognise, but is there such thing as a too simple logo?

There has been a discussion over on Logo Of The Day about this logo in question, many love it, many hate it. What is your opinion?

Background Info

Below is the information that Anne Wehr of iCVBook submitted to Logo Of The Day. Tom Skipp is the designer of the logo.

iCVBook is a new generation of professional network, including an innovation called iCV : a revolutionary professional identity for people and companies. It gathers together your online and professional, social and personal identities to give everyone the best image possible. The logo is for representing the brand.

We needed two different types of logo: the brand one and an icon that will be used by users for their iCVs. So this concept allows to decline the logo.

One represents a kind of sheet of paper, a Curriculum Vitae, a file to fill in. Simple and qualitative. With the possibility to play with the color of the corner (using the colorful pantone of the website) for gif animation or declination.”

So, when is a logo too simple?


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55 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Abounding Media Reply

    I must say I think this one is too simple and I would focus on color rather than form. It is very black and white – but not deliberately. If the corner fold had been filled wit a bright color, that may have done it.

    In general I think the eye tells us. There has to be a focal point, a place that draws our attention. If not…it may be too simple.

  • Julie Cajigas Reply

    My initial thought, as I loaded this page, was “oh crap, my browser isn’t reading that image.” Then, “wait, is that the logo? Why, yes, yes it is.”

    My issue with the logo isn’t that it’s too simple. My issue is that it’s a very dated looking image that feels like a direct copy of old Apple and PC icons. There is probably a creative way to do something similar that would resonate with a more modern audience, but right now the only group that is going to impress is still back in 1985.

    The icon/logo itself isn’t bad, minus some tracking issues. It’s clear, and I can tell who the company is. The problem is, we’ve seen so many similar icons over the years that it would easily blend into the scene, the only thing making it stand apart being its dated look.

    This is a concept that the creator is clearly in love with, but… I’m not sure the audience will be. I think my favorite icon/logo on my desktop is the firefox logo. That logo has style, simplicity and an attractive color palette, all of which I think are important for a program/website/platform etc.

    But what do I know – I’m sure there are folks out there who think this is brilliant. The question is, will the end user think so enough to purchase and/or use the product? I’d love to know how this mark affects their sales in the future – just out of pure curiosity.

  • Nina Reply

    Just before the conversation starts again, I’d like to say one thing : we created this logo in 5 different colors (the corner change). You’ll find an animation in the blog http://icvbook.blogspot.com/ to give you an idea.

    Enjoy!

  • Federico Reply

    My personal opinion is that this “logo” isn’t much a logo as it is an icon. Like an icon for a document in a computer. This doesn’t represent ANY Identity, it is very generic, very plain, very much the “same” as any icon. It doesn’t stand out for its uniqueness.

    It happened to me the same as the above poster, I thought it was a glitch, that the computer displayed the generic “I don’t have that image” picture. That is the problem. Not the simplicity. There is a difference between simplicity and “genericness” (I don’t know how to express that). The thing is, that logo won’t be memorable, it will blend with any icon in the world.

  • Juul Coolen Reply

    I think a logo is only too simple when the identity is not strong enough. The Nike logo (the “swoosh”) we all know is simple, yet recognizable.

    The iCVBook logo doesn’t look much like a logo to me. It’s a bit bland and the problem is that it lacks a unique identity, therefore I would say it is too “simple”.

  • Doc John Reply

    I also had a “something not loaded experience” and agree that it’s more of an icon than a logo. Logos can and do make the transition to icon status – like Twitter, Digg, Delecious Etc.. But this feels like an system icon tying to get logo status. Might work with some colour but it lacks “Soul”.

  • Abbas Reply

    It just looks like it’s been thrown together as an afterthought.

    I don’t even think it’s meant to be simple, I just think it’s rushed.

  • Marc Reply

    Got to go with the crowd on this one, it looks like an idea that gets thrown around at the start of the creative process but certainly not developed enough to be called a brand identity.

    Does anyone even use paper CV’s anymore?

  • Vernocchi Reply

    I would say that a logo is too simple when is so simple that isn’t memorable anymore. Simplicity is not the right word though. I would say that the Nike logo is simple, yet effective, dynamic and memorable. I think that the right word would be “weak”. When a logo is weak? Even a more complicated logo could be weak. If a logo is super simple like a big dot but is effective and powerfull, then is a good logo. If a logo is more deep, with use of negative space and so on but it lacks power and it’s not memorable, then that’s a weak logo.

  • Rory Reply

    I love a simple logo Nike, Apple etc but that ICV Book logo is horrible. I to thought the image hadn’t loaded, its dull and doesn’t make you want to investigate the company further. It needs reworking and NOW!!

  • Harprabhjot Paul Chandhoke Reply

    I think the ‘simplicity’ aspect has been taken a bit too seriously.

  • Mario Ocon Reply

    If done well, logos can never to simple logo. I do think you can underdesign a logo. There is a big difference between the two. I don’t think this logo is to simple. To me it’s simply poorly designed.

  • Jacob Cass Reply

    I think I am going to have to go against the grain here – I’ve held out for a bit seeing what others have thought but I still think this logo is a valid solution.

    Yes, it may have a relation to old Apple and PC icons, but maybe this was the point? Personally, when I think of a CV I immediately think of Microsoft Word – not that is a good thing, but I do. Most users will also think of the icons on the computer which will allow a relation between them and the site and in my case, Microsoft Word (the program most users create their CVs in).

    The logo is clear and you can tell who the company is… and on the site you can personalise the logo with your own colours (top right corner) which is what I think makes this logo more successful – especially considering the boring nature of CVs.

    Regarding the “loading image” story, once you are familiar with a logo, it becomes more recognisable and memorable. A logo doesn’t stay in your head first time around – it’s over constant exposure that you become accustomed to it which is why I do not see this as a problem.

    I believe the logo is in a good position to relate to the user and reflects what the site is all about and it has been implemented very well on the site to allow this.

    Ball’s in your court.

  • Douglas Bonneville Reply

    Before commenting on the logo, you really need to see a bigger version, as well as see the colors cycling through in the animated .gif:

    http://icvbook.blogspot.com/

    Up closer, you can see there is a thoughtful attention to detail going on there. My eye goes right to the beveled nip off the corner of the folded down corner. I wish that nip was just a tad bigger.

    In the context of Tom’s other work, you see it was far from a blow off. If you still think he did this in 10 minutes, that’s all well, except for the fact that it would have taken him 20 years to be able to do it in 10 minutes. I don’t think that’s the case though. this is lovingly kerned and looks great on close inspection.

    I can think of a few things I’d tweak, or at least see how they look. Right margin might be a tad tight. What would even margins look like? The implied vertical line from the left of the folded corner creates a little tension, to my eyes, with where it intersects with the top of the V. I dunno…I’d have to play with it a bit.

    I also wonder if a modern, high x-height serif would have jived more conceptually with the idea of a resume…

  • Abounding Media Reply

    I looked over the logos with color in the corner fold (good to actually see them). I think the color helps, but it’s still lacking something for me.

    It’s not so much that I don’t like it; more that I am not feeling anything about it. Therein lies the problem.

  • Andrew Odri Reply

    I think the problem is that is looks to similar to the de-facto standard document icon. I look at it and think it’s a *.icv file, which must be some kind of eBook, not a company. This logo would probably pass off as legit in print literature, but in any kind of digital media it will cause way too much confusion.

  • Rahul - Web Guru Reply

    As for my opinion, I can’t exactly say that this kind of logo looks too simple. Sometimes even when a single color image can and does look awesome, whereas even when using multi-colors some goes down the drain.

    For me, the logo in the image of this article is too simple.

  • tracy Reply

    Hmmmm….. see my first reaction was “eh.” I wasn’t in love with the logo BUT I think for what’s it’s going to be used, it works well. It grows on you, I think. A lot of users still need that recognizable image of “paper.” I’m not sure if people will love the icon like the Nike logo or Apple or Coca-Cola but I like that it lends itself to be color-customized for each user. Plus, I do like that they’ve made a little guy from the logo in their demo videos. http://www.icvbook.com/index.php?item=demo

    Versatility I believe is what wins here.

  • Daniel Reply

    A logo is too simple when it can be mistaken for a common symbol or icon. However, simple logos can evolve over time to be exclusively identified with one brand. Look at the simplicity of logos like Apple and Nike. They both started off with their names included in the logo, and now Nike has switched to just the Swoosh and Apple has just the solid coloured apple with a bite. Iconic!

  • Nina Reply

    (different Nina)

    IMHO…I really like the idea behind the logo, but it just could have been executed better. It feels a bit like a Powerpoint drawing or a bit like a first draft.

  • Marc Reply

    Has anybody looked at what the brand is?

    “a revolutionary professional identity for people and companies”

    Sorry, but I really don’t think that a piece of paper with the corner folded over portrays that message at all. It’s not revolutionary and in my opinion, not professional. I agree with (different Nina) above, in that there could be a good idea there, it just hasn’t been taken far enough. The question here shouldn’t be ‘is it too simple?’ but instead ‘is it fit for purpose?’

  • Davina K. Brewer Reply

    The color thing does not bother me as much, as a logo needs to work in black and white. But there’s a difference in a clean, sharp, simple design and overly simplistic. Like others I think this looks like a first draft, a little flat without style or impact in relation to the brand.

    But consider the Nike Swoosh (mentioned upthread) or Apple’s.. apple, it’s how the icon is used that matters; two examples of how marketing, branding give a logo meaning and value. FWIW.

  • Nina Reply

    All right guys. I am glad to read all your comments. It helps a lot.
    I notice you mention Nike and Apple, the most famous brands in the world, the most powerful companies. Good.
    As a few of us fairly said, just have a look at what the website is, the global concept. We are striving to develop the best technologies, for users to have access to the best tool possible and be able to enjoy and boost your career.
    And if you check out the logos of Facebook, LinkedIn, Delicious… they are all simple (a font, a square) and it is all about what is behind the brand for users.
    We are only beginning to build the brand and it is really exciting!
    Cheers

    Anne

  • Kiren Reply

    I think it really works with the website, it’s not a bad logo. I kinda agree with Jacob, I think that’s what they were going for, with the desktop icon looking thing.

  • Chris Lane Reply

    I agree with most of the posters here. It just seems too generic and like someone said, I would think of this as an .icv file. Not that the logo is too simple, as most simple logos are very successful, it just seems too lacking in originality. It’s almost exactly the icon that shows up when no icon is present for a file. I understand what Jacob says about it reminding of Microsoft Word, and it certainly does that, but almost too much so.
    I actually much prefer the version on the site that has the color and is just iCV without book below it. The square shape, though not as much like a page, makes it stand out more from the generic icon look that the main version has.
    One more note, what’s with the bright yellow blog title over a white background? ouch.

  • Rachel Cary Reply

    This looks unfinished to me. Even in context, it stands out, and not in a good way. It looks plugged into the Web site.

    Logos are too simple when they fail to create a distinctive, memorable impression. And this one is failing big time.

    However, pushed a little further, it could definitely work. The font is not working (and I love Helvetica, don’t get me wrong) and the icon looks like clip art. It wouldn’t take a lot of tweaking to make the icon a little more proprietary in feel while still maintaining the ‘desktop’ feel that does make sense for the brand. Typography would take more time as you’ve got serious space restrictions, but what they’re using now looks like it was done in PowerPoint.

  • Timothy Miller Reply

    It looks like dated clip art.

  • Amanda G @ northridge creations Reply

    Whether or not you believe a simple or complex logo best represents the brand – it is often the client who has the last say. Clients can think they are getting ripped off with a simple logo whereas others think complex logos are too “busy” looking. Be true to the brand.

  • Tom Skipp Reply

    I’ve enjoyed reading all these comments.
    Just to say. It’s not Helvetica.
    Cheers. Tom.

  • Nathan Sarlow Reply

    I don’t think a logo can ever be TOO simple, but it can be under-designed. As per a lot of comments here, I think the concept is fine, but it SEEMS to lack execution or originality, both in the mark and type.

    Juul Coolen said: I think a logo is only too simple when the identity is not strong enough.

  • Eric Sly Reply

    I think that it just screams Windows 3.1. The little ‘i’ just looks like it isn’t aligned with anything, or just slightly off, or too close to the ‘C’, and it just keeps my eye there until my brain fixes it, but the silence never comes.

    I keep hoping that a gust of wind will catch the paper fold and flip it over to end the madness.

    The ‘i’ clashes with the with of the spine of the ‘b’ and just does not fit in.

    I don’t like it.

    3 things come to mind:

    1. Some sort of Image Load Error
    2. Outdated Clip Art
    3. Boring Word Processing

    I wouldn’t want a creative identity, professional or personal, of my own to be associated with this.

    Nike is TOO SIMPLE.

    This is TOO something else.. I can’t think.. the ‘i’ is hurting…. my…. head………

  • Jacob Cass Reply

    Thank you all for your opinions on the logo & about what makes a logo too “simple” – I would reply individually but I’ve already stated my side of the story and really don’t have much else to add. Thanks again.

  • Tom Dabner Reply

    I agree with abounding media and the loge lacking a more defined focal point. However as for ‘too simple’ I don’t think this is possible, atleast not in terms of image complexity. I mean take the Nike logo for example, probably one of the most simple, yet iconic logos in the world.
    I know it has more hidden meaning, but to the untrained eye of a passer by, its simple design avoids confusion and invites the customer.

    So I think the logo here for iCV book is not too simple design-wise, I feel it just lacks something that will really boost its effectivness in terms of drawing in potential customers. Possibly the introduction of a single colour as mentioned before.

  • Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyer Reply

    A logo needs to have something that stands out even when going for simplicity. Without that, there’s really nothing to remember.

  • Ashley Adams : Postcard Printing Reply

    A Logo is used by professionals as a brand name or Icon. Simple Logos are also nice but a designer while creating such logos should make them unique or attractive. If you could push it a little further, I think it will definitely work:.Thanks.

  • Diana Reply

    I think is very simple but effective, it looks like an icon, but is a logo, I think the reason what people think that logo is not good is because they want to see “more colors” or gradient effects, etc, something web 2.0′ish, I’m not sure if is a trend, and some designer think if they make a very simple design they have to charge low prices, make sense? excuse my english, I hope you can understand me. Cheers.

  • Lance Reply

    Simple works a lot of the time – but i like getting more creative in my work.

  • PhilippineOutsourcing Reply

    maybe, one with dull common colors.

  • Kathryn Reply

    Definitely thought there was an image load error (like a lot of other people). If a logo is constantly being confused for something it is NOT (e.g. a Windows icon, a load error) how is it supposed to further the brand? Can you imagine if every time you looked at the logo for your local mechanic you confused it with the logo for your local grocery store?

  • Kathryn Reply

    As an aside, there’s a REASON icons no longer look like boring rectangular boxes – something to think about.

  • ces Reply

    The logo on their website is litle bit different from the one in this page, and it works much better. I Like it.

  • Nina Reply

    Hi,

    Just so you know, after all your comment, we improved the iCVbook logo. Hope you’ll enjoy it! Check this out http://www.icvbook.com

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

  • Fola Reply

    i think its a great logo… simplicity has been my standard for years, and i love the fact that other designers realize that using the simplest of fonts can still bring forth creativity.

    A little tweaks here and there (a stapled page is flipped from the bottom right corner) aside, its a cool logo for its purpose.

  • Marina Reply

    When I was scrolling up and down this page to look for the “simple” logo. At a quick glance, the logo didn’t register that it was a logo…I thought that it was a link to download an application to see the logo…I must say that the website looks good though… :)

  • Ash Menon Reply

    Can’t…breathe…must…increase…kerning…

    Considering the amount of vertical space available, I think a tad more kerning/tracking is due. The logo itself makes me think of something in nature of a directory, or an index.

    Also, I’m not sure if this is the designer in me speaking, but it’s sort of a marketing ploy. Instead of having swooshes and gradients and vivid colours which make me think that they’re trying hard to get my attention (“Look at me! I’m SHINY!”), this logos clean lines and minimalist colour seems as if it’s waiting for me to go to them. That quiet confidence is somehow alluring, and most definitely memorable.

  • Alyy Reply

    I like the idea behind what they were going for, unfortunately I do not think that this logo really pops, or conveys anything about the company. I think that it needs some spicing up, not a lot, just a bit, and then it could have the potential to draw attention in a good way. I definately agree with other posters that a different font would really help.

  • john Reply

    I think this is too simple to steal people attention,and this is not the aim of any logo..Logo can be simple but very unique and that does a good job.I don’t really know the ideas behind this logo and creations but according to me it fail to communicate.

  • Lala Reply

    I’m really new at this, I’ve entered a university this year and going to study graphic design. Yeah, this logo may seem too simple or dull but what I’ve learned from this site<3 is that a logo must be simple, memorable and recognizable. And I think the designer has it. And the thing that the top right corner is colored prevents the logo from being dull. I've never really learned anything much about graphic design (such a shame) but I think it's never too late to learn so as I said the things I already know 50% i learnt from this site. Wow, I didnt expect this comment to be so long for I just wanted to ask: so can a logo ever be too simple? Thanks in advance ;)

  • ale Reply

    I think the problem is the type. The use of those capital C and V next to the i is terrible looking in that choice of type weight. Helvetica doesn’t ALWAYS work :(

  • Oklahoma City Social Security Attorney Reply

    This may have been said but it looks too much like a windows desktop icon.

  • Virtual Agents Reply

    In today’s world designs logo is totally under rated. People value every logo design. It might be simple and very unique though some may not understand how important it is in business. The importance, it communicate people.

  • Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyer Reply

    I like that logo, and there is enough contrast in the words to make it not “too simple”.

  • Bagia Reply

    Designers have to understand that logos are irrelevant without a solid experience behind it. Simplicity is nothing without a surprise and communication is nothing without a context. The problem of this logo is that you don’t recognize as a logo.

    • craig Reply

      I’d have to agree Bagia…

      I hated this logo from the get go. But seeing it in plage on the website, instantly liked it a hell of a lot more.

      On the current site – the corner is bright yellow, and the whole thing is on a big yellow background header. It gives me the feeling of Yellow pages (a telephone directory in the UK, not sure if it is anywhere else in the world) but that gave me the sense of professionalism, and information.

      The logo as posted at the top of the page, with its grey corner, and not in situe, really looks like somthing you could throw together on a Lotus program in the 90′s. Whether this is a intential case of retro or not, i think a diffrent font, slight diff layout or something would make it stand out when published on its own. Maybe?


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