Designing a logo for your business can often be a challenging task – involving time, resources, and internal debate. A good logo sets the stage for your company’s visual brand for years to come. Your logo is the foundation of your brand. Your logo’s design not only influences how your customers (and the rest of the world) perceive your brand—it also dictates the colors, fonts, and graphics that will be used in your marketing materials. From email signatures all the way up to your website, your logo design holds power.
So what is a Logo?
Your logo is a symbol, sign, wordmark or emblem. Logos tend to be graphical in nature, designed for easy recognition of an organization across different mediums.
What is Brand?
A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company. Branding is when that idea or image is marketed so that it is recognizable by more and more people, and identified with a certain service or product when there are many other companies offering the same service or product. Simply, your brand is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers. Strong brands elicit opinions, emotions, and sometimes physiological responses from customers. Examine the following logos:
How did they make you feel…
Are you suddenly craving a burger?
Now let’s take a look at some of the characteristics that are common throughout these logos:
The application of your logo must be extremely consistent. That’s why companies (big and small) have a brand guides that dictates how a logo should and should not be used. The consistent use of the logo will define its overall success. Most logos are simple and from a design perspective not incredibly interesting. It’s the consistent application over and over again that helps the consumer/client to begin to link the brand mark with the company.
The majority of logos consist of but a single color, typically a primary color. Some may have two colors, but rarely do you see more than two colors. This makes it easy to attach an emotion to a logo. Together the eyes and brain produce a cognitive and emotional response to each color. Because of this, colors themselves take on meanings. The exact meaning is often a cultural understanding and can have mulitple meanings across cultures. In the UK, white is considered pure and positive where in China, white is used in mourning, symbolizing heaven. Red is often used to symbolize strength and life, but is taboo in financial communities.
Design for multiple media in mind. One thing remains constant – change.
A logo must be versatile because it has so many potential applications. It should work in color or in black and white. It should work when it’s imprinted on something as small as a pen and as large as billboard. It should work on TV or on a car wrap. It’s critical to consider all the possible applications when designing a logo.
The constant evolution of media and information delivery systems of today’s times means that a logo will likely take on more than one form of medium in its lifespan. Because of the likeliness that the logo will be found on more than just print it’s best to use clean lines. You don’t see drop-shadows or beveling being used. This allows for the logo to be easily placed on billboards, on business cards, on black and white fax copies, mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads and so much more.
It is also recommended that the logo be developed in a vector program like Adobe illustrator to keep the logo scalable and easily transferable across different media.
A well-designed logo can last more than 30 years. The longevity of a logo contributes to brand awareness, so it’s important that the design does not reference design trends or a specific time period. It’s best to avoid over stylized fonts or design gimmicks like gradients and drop shadows that will go in and out of style. A logo should be able to convey its message over a prolonged period of time and it must be able to adapt to cultural changes. It might be exciting to design a logo that is influenced by a trendy typeface, but it will become outdated and need to be replaced in later years.
There are a lot of great logos out there and it’s easy to want to replicate them. However, to be truly effective, a logo design must be memorable, unique, and original. As a whole, people are highly visual, so a unique visual logo works best for branding purposes. The purpose of a logo is to create a visual representation of your business. One of the key aspects of marketing is defining your company’s unique value proposition. What sets you apart from the competition? So naturally it’s critical to have a logo that is unique. This can be difficult to achieve, since it’s also important the logo is simple and appropriate for your industry.
A logo does not need to be complicated and intricate. A logo should be legible and iconic. Some of the most effective logos are the most simple – comprised of basic shapes, such as circles and squares. Take a look at Target, Apple or WWF for example. The design isn’t earth shattering nor does it try to convey every aspect of their business. The logos essentially act as a stamp and offer a visual clue to the company name or purpose
A simple logo increases the usability and legibility of the logo as well. It can take several rounds of revisions and feedback to get there, but a great logo is simple and clean.