What makes a great logo? Prefinery Case Study

December 30, 2021

I’ve been working on branding/rebranding projects for over a decade, and most of them involve logo redesign. While we all know the importance of great logo design, do we know what makes a great logo? One of the most common question from my client meetings would be - what is great logo? How do you differentiate between a mediocre and a great logo? For the longest time I’d say, ‘you know it when you see one’ or ‘the great logos are simple and sticky’. 

I know ‘you know it when you see it’ might not be the best reply. This post is my attempt to articulate my answer and share my learnings from all these years of logo work. To make it easier to follow, I’ll be taking you through a logo redesign project and see if it qualifies for a good logo. 

In this post we wont’ talk about the logos of Nike and Apple. Instead, we’ll be looking at the logo design for Prefinery - a no-code referral tool. The brief was to make the Prefinery brand contemporary with tech look and feel. 

The rebranding brief

I really dig rebranding projects, and you can read the reasons here :). Whether you are rebranding a law-firm or a B2B SaaS product, the underlying brand principles are the same. Here is the old logo for Prefinery: 

Old Prefinery Logo
Old Prefinery logomark and logotype

The logo wasn’t accessible, and lacked the tech/SaaS vibe. The objective of this rebranding exercise was to fix these issues for the Prefinery brand and to create something more exciting and dynamic. With these clear goals in mind, I briefed an art director who has worked with me on several logo designs in the past ten years. 

The initial concepts

A couple of logos initially presented were: 

First few logos, around the concept 'connections'

These initial logos were around the concept of ‘connections and referral’. The concept was on point, but these designs didn’t have the minimal, bold and tech vibe the brand needed. The designer kept the ‘P’ from the current logo and I quite liked it, but that wasn’t a requirement. 

We went back to the drawing board, and decided to explore ‘launch’ as a concept. Prefinery is about launch, and it could be more exciting than connections.

The final logo

After a couple of attempts, we arrived at this option: 

Approved concept and execution

This was a very good design, I really liked it (as well as the client) and we were getting close (you know it when you see it). It was right on the money and it is dynamic - it shows take off/launch, and also cues a positive emotion. At this stage, I decided to get some feedback from a few people in the target audience. Feedback is important because we all have our biases, and it helps get different perspectives. Talking about different perspectives, see these two comments on the above logo: 

I could have ignored the question mark bit but the ‘penis’ comment was important to address. Everyone loved the logo concept (launch/growth), and the first draft of the logo was not bad. But we needed to make it simpler, and address some of the feedback. 

After a couple of days of iteration, the art director delivered this final logo: 

Prefinery Logo

Evaluation of the logo: 

What do you think? Is this a great logo? Let’s evaluate it as per the framework from the iconic logo design book - Logo Design Love. As per the book, these are the essentials for a great logo: 

  • It is simple: Being simple and minimal is the key to creating a memorable logo. I’m sure most iconic logos that you can recall are simple too. The new logo for Prefinery is certainly simple, with only a couple of elements. 
  • It is relevant: Only when your logo is relevant, it will get noticed by your target audience. The rocket icon/emoji is widely used in the tech community (and beyond) for launch/growth. 
  • Designed for longevity: Every logo project I’m involved in, I’d like that logo to last several decades. Therefore, keeping it simple and free from any design/UI trends is the key. The Prefinery logo in my opinion certainly checks this box. 
  • It is distinctive: Distinction is the whole reason behind branding, isn’t it? And distinct logos stick. The new Prefinery logo clearly stands out from the competition, making it clearly distinctive.
  • It is memorable: This one needs some market research, but I definitely feel it’ll do well in those tests. A memorable logo is the one you’ll remember after just one quick glance. 
  • It looks good in small: This is very important, especially for a software/tech business. In the digital landscape, a logo will be seen in small sizes, due to responsive screens and smaller viewports. Therefore, we reviewed the new Prefinery logo in small sizes and it did well.
  • It focuses on one thing only: ‘Launch’ is what the Prefinery brand is about, and the logo focusses only on that. Iconic designs focus only on one thing, and I am happy to confirm the new logo meets this crucial criteria. 
  • It is swag worthy: This one isn't from any book but from my personal checklist. Before finalizing a logo, I always ask - “If I am the user, will I wear a hoodie with that logo on it?”. I could be biased, but for Prefinery I most certainly will 🙂

Next Steps:

  1. Execution of the new brand identity for Prefinery
  2. UX and UI redesign to make the brand come alive

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