When a client tells you they only want a simple logo, what exactly do they mean? There are several definitions of the word ‘simple.’ When applied to graphic design, it means something non-complex, possibly composed of a single element, or in other words – minimalist.

Is this a problem? Absolutely not. However, a common misconception among clients seems to be that simple means quick. Simple means easy. Simple means cheap.

Client email: Thanks for your quote. It seems an outrageous amount of money though. I only want a simple logo.

Upwork design specs: Simple logo needed. Budget: $25. Just the name and a simple graphic. I’d like 3 variations please. Timeframe 7 days.

Feedback on logo concept: My 12 yr old daughter could design that. It’s too simple. I want something professional that pops.

To be clear on what simplicity in a logo means, just look at some of the most popular and most iconic logos recognized by people of all ages: McDonald’s golden arches, the Apple apple, the Nike swoosh, the Playboy bunny, and the all-familiar Coca-Cola typeface. What do they have in common?

The first and most important thing is that they are all representations of the company’s history, culture, and values. Only someone with a deep enough understanding of these things can create something that captures it all. Real time must be spent on research and conceptualization.

Steve Jobs knew this, but he also knew that it must be executed by someone who knew how. That’s the second thing these logos have in common. In an interview with Rob Janoff, who designed the original Apple logo, he says that he got a lot of opposition from some higher executives who didn’t like his concept, particularly the colorful stripes. After all, there are other ways to draw a (simple) apple. We all know now how wrong they were!

The fact of the matter is, it takes the same amount of time (sometimes even longer) to create something simple yet striking, as it is to create something more complex. Moreover, it takes skill and expertise to turn a concept into a visual reality.

So yes, dear clients, within this context there is such a thing as a simple logo. But it doesn’t mean what you think it means.