The holy grail of branding is getting to the point where a company's logo stands on its own, easily recognized without explanation.
Brands that have reached this apex include McDonalds, Nike, Coca-Cola, and the most iconic logo of all ... Apple. What these logos have in common is they are clean, simple, and versatile.
Steve Jobs took the Apple logo from a complex Sir Isaac Newton woodcut to clear and straightforward with uber-succinct design direction from Jobs: "Don't make it cute". Despite what the conspiracy theorists say, the creation of the Apple logo had no mystery to it whatsoever. Even the addition of the bite was for a simple reason. Jobs didn't want the apple to look like a cherry.
Then, Jobs' clean, simple, practical design sense for Apple's products elevated the logo into the stratosphere. The apple became "cool" and the company reached unprecedented levels of success.
So, the lesson here is, when it comes to logos, "Keep it simple, stupid!" rules the day.