What is a Logo?
A logo is a graphical element, (ideogram, symbol, emblem, icon, sign) that forms a trademark or commercial brand. Typically, a logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand, or economic entity, and its shapes, colours, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other, non-commercial entities. (Definition taken from Wikipedia.com)
Logos come in all kinds of shapes and sizes however they typically are one of 5 different classifications. Designing a logo is about much more than an exercise in aesthetic. A logo must be a positive depiction of the product or service it represents. When designing a logo, knowing which type of mark would be the most appropriate for the application will help you achieve a stronger solution.
There are 3 types of logos:
Logos are a powerful emblem of a particular company or product. Graphical illustrations and imagery are used solely to convey the organization’s message/brand/image. Symbols leave a lot of room for broader interpretation of what the organization represents and practical usage, but are only effective if instantly recognizable and linked to the company.
Logos visually represent your company or brand name in the form of a type font that has been uniquely styled and treated. Type is a powerful language, with each font having different characteristics and projecting a different image. A suitable font has to be chosen/custom designed/modified in order to transform it into a logotype that is congruent with the company’s brand.
Combination Marks are logos with both type font and a symbol/icon as part of its visual make up. Combination marks can be designed to be integrated or stand alone. For instance, the Starbucks logo has the type integrated with the graphic, and the AT&T logo has the icon separate from the type. Combination marks have the advantage of flexibility in usage and application.
Other logo classification:
Wordmarks: A wordmark is a logo comprised of text only featuring a unique typographical treatment used to convey the brand’s message or positioning.
Letterform Marks: Use one or more letterforms as a symbol to convey the brand message.
Marks: A mark is a literal and often pictorial representation of a company or product. The image is usually a reference to the company or a brand attribute.
Abstract Marks/Symbols: Abstract marks and symbols use visual form to convey a concept that is relevant to the brand message.
Emblems: Emblems are a complex mixture of pictorial elements and type that are linked to the organization and its positioning.
3 Steps to Creating an Effective Logo Design
Anyone can create a great logo, not everyone can create an effective logo. Hiring a graphic designer to create a logo is like hiring a sculptor to paint a portrait. Worse, buying one of the logo creation programs is equally as dangerous. A logo requires more than creating a Vector file, or an icon.
Logo Design and File Type
Not every logo can be resized, and look equally good on a business card, in an advertisement, or on a website. Many logos lose their impact when switched from the CMYK colour mode of pint to the web’s RGB profile, or even when converted to black and white. While working at an ad agency – designers learn to create logos that can be used on thousands of different promotional items. They know the limitations, and expectations of the logo. The ad agency is where professional designers learn to create a logo that works everywhere. There is a reason why all Fortune 500 companies follow the same rules, and industry standards.
A logo design is the foundation of Branding. A good logo looks just as good as an avatar, as it does on a business card. It should become the company’s ID. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is by making a logo that is several layers, and then pulling it apart. The vital importance to branding is to be consistent. Once selected, the colours should stay consistent. A set of rules should be developed to ensure the logo is always used correctly.
A logo needs to touch an emotional element in the shopper. Many DIY marketers create designs and logos that look good to them without taking into consideration several important facts:
They are not buying their product
They are not their consumer/client
They rarely know who buys their product, or why
The Treatment of the font is arguably the most important element. The colour, font, size, shading, and Kerning all are part of the treatment. Sans Serif fonts offer more of a casual look, while serif fonts are more stoic. The ‘message’ must be carried through the entire logo. The icon connects to the brand promise. A logo designer can create an effective logo when they understand the client’s business, the consumers, and end users. The quick way to a powerful logo is hiring someone who already understands these elements.
Do you realize that your logo is the primary focus of all your marketing strategies? It appears in every ad you publish, on all your business documents and forms, and is branded through that repetition within the minds of everyone your company touches. How your target audience “sees” you is how they will respond to your products and services. Your logo is the encapsulated visual of “who you are” and “what you represent”. As such, the effort and care you take in deciding it’s design can impact its effect on your success.
Take a moment and think about your favourite car, sports team, restaurant, bank, computer brand, clothing line, or junk food. Can you imagine their logo without seeing them? More than likely you can. If you can’t, is it because it’s too complex, not relevant to the business or the wrong colour combinations? Do you know the difference or how to graphically convey the best in your company so that your audience will remember you at a glance?
By hiring a trained professional to help you envision the elements of your logo and how they will work best for your company you will save time and money in the long run. What elements actually make an effective logo and why is it important? Your logo should represent you, make your company recognizable at a glance. It if doesn’t, it may not be effective.
Good marketing depends on repetition, which creates branding. Your logo is the single most used item in all your marketing strategies so it should be created with careful planning and much thought. Here are five things to consider when creating your new, effective logo.
When your logo is short and sweet it solves a bunch of other issues critical to effective branding of your company. Although many established companies may have ornate and complex logos, in today’s world, with the constant barrage of information, we remember best what is sleek and visually discernible.
Will your logo be clear at any size or in any colour combination? Some logos look great at 4” X 4” but what happens when they are reduced for a business card? Will the details of the lines or text run together? Will your logo look just as crisp in a black and white newspaper ad as it will in a full colour magazine ad or on your website? Printing your logo in full colour may look fabulous but what if the printing costs are significantly less or the publication requires only two colours?
It’s easy to get caught up in the look of fancy typefaces but they are often illegible, especially when reduced to business card size. Use a font that has clean spacing between letters, and strong strokes, particularly in the thinnest lines of the design. Scripts are often challenging in this area so use a bolder version when necessary for legibility. Also, avoid lengthy business names if possible. The longer the name, the harder it is to remember.
Your logo should appear representative of your business. Too abstract? People will miss the connection. Too complex? Yeah, it was that design that was round with a bunch of “stuff” in it…you know. Too much colour? Looked great but I really can’t remember what it was. Simple, elegant, one colour, short business name… now you’re talkin’! If you have trouble deciding if your logo will be effective, remember those that stick in your mind and ask yourself why you remember them.
Sure, maybe you or your secretary could draw something up with less time and expense but, remember, your logo will be with you for a long time. Once people start seeing it, they’ll either start associating it with your company or it will be easily forgettable. If you believe that paying a professional service to custom design your logo is too expensive, remember it’s value to your company.
Cost isn’t as important as results so look at the artist’s portfolio. You may not recognize any of their work specifically as there are as many logos out there as there are businesses. But if you find their work simple and attractive, easy to identify and memorable, you probably have a qualified artist to work with.
One more thing: Humour has it’s place; so does elegance. Be sensitive to your audience’s feelings and expectations regarding your industry and you’ll go far in selecting the right look for your logo. The professional you select relies on your input to correctly identify the design elements he will incorporate into your logo. Be definite and clear about what you do and let the professional do the rest. It will be the best marketing purchase you ever made.