Creating Compelling Logos: Passing the Toddler Test

Creating Compelling Logos: Passing the Toddler Test

It started as a joke, really. The overlap of kids, home, and design work means that our Tiny Fairswell Interns get involved in our work from time to time (which we consider a feature, not a bug). Occasionally juggling client business while the little ones wander around with lots of curiosity and low levels of self-preservation means an opportunity to get some creative design feedback.


What is the best way to know

if your logo design makes sense?

Give it the toddler test.


A nice rule of thumb we practice — and sometimes break — is that a great logo mark should be simple and memorable enough that anyone can draw it easily from memory. The Nike swoosh and Facebook “f” follow this rule. Starbucks does not, although they have noticeably simplified their mark over the years.  

The toddler test functions in a similar way. We like to ask our toddlers their opinions on our work. What does it make them think of? What do they see? How does it make them feel?

When we were in the process of designing a brand system for a dog walking company, Lauren gave preliminary designs the toddler test. Her older son replied, “Awww, they’re so cute! Is that for ME?!” Bingo. Endearing, personable, desirable — all brand characteristics we were going for.

Sure, sometimes the response skews toward cute fluffy animals and the current favorite color. But if you’re looking to find out what people will actually see when they look at your logo design, the honest toddler will not lie. (Unless perhaps they think there’s a cookie in it for them.) Instead of digging deep to conjure up some artificial response, toddlers will tell you whatever is top of mind. They’re famous for not sugarcoating their opinions. If your church steeple actually looks more like a surfboard, they'll let you know. Their perspective can help rule out unnecessary complication and confusion.

If you don’t have a toddler nearby, an elderly neighbor or kid cousin will do in a pinch. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who will never tell you what you want to hear, they may also fit the bill. The important thing is a lack of filter and impulse control.

Obviously, this test cannot replace the perspective of the brand’s actual audience. The goal here is not determining whether the logo will make the client big bucks. Rather, it’s a simple way of determining if the mark is clear and memorable. Because we all know that if it sticks with a toddler, you’ll be hearing about it for a while.