A logo design is composed of one or more elements of shape, type, and thematically chosen colors. In a glance, it conveys a substantial amount of information to the viewer, much in the form of short gut feelings that aren’t vocalized —good, hesitant, authoritative, dignified, classy, upscale, expertise, cheap…the list is endless.
Your logo is a symbol that will stand on every piece of printed or electronic collateral for at least the next 10 years. Remember that thought. Changing your logo in a year because you don’t like it breeds confusion and mistrust that spreads like weeds within your audience. Many people over look that fact when they have a logo designed from the Internet for $25.
Your identity is an extension of your business that communicates visually, through appearance, and emotionally, through symbolism. Curtailing or ignoring thought, revision, and growth in the design process will hurt your finished product and corporate image. A good graphic artist will lead you through the design process. He or she will help visualize your company as the world sees you.
“I’m not creative,” “I can’t draw,” “Make it green cause green is my favorite color and I’m the boss and it’s my logo!” If you find yourself thinking along these lines, you’re pretty normal so don’t worry! If your passion and talent lie in matching the perfect violin to a young blossoming talent that walks into your music store, you’re probably not going to do your own corporate tax returns.
Tax returns are done every year. Your logo, the heart and soul of your business is created once. It’s part of you, and is the face of your business the world will see. Let a graphic artist, whose own passion is design, help you with what they do best. It’s well worth the investment. Let’s look at why…
In the following we’ll discuss some obvious and not so obvious things a logo communicates and illustrate by examples you’ll recognize. You will have a greater understanding of how much power your little icon can potentially have.
Logos: The Obvious Characteristics
From a usability and visibility standpoint there a several key factors that must be built into the design. Your logo must be clear and simple enough that it does not lose meaning when reproduced at different sizes, specifically smaller. If it is too cluttered and muddy on your business card your first impression will be a disappointment to a potential client.
It must not lose meaning when reproduced in one color. The Internet and online marketing let you produce things in blazing colorful glory without extra cost. However, don’t forget those equally important other places your logo will be seen like packaging, shopping bags, faxes, Xeroxes, newspapers, business cards, brochures and letterhead. Those are important items in building brand loyalty and recognition to your product. If they don’t look sharp, neither will your image, and neither will your sales.
Logos: The Quiet, Harmonic Subtle Qualities Often Overlooked
Your logo is a symbol of your company’s ideals, practices and missions. A well-developed, carefully sculpted logo can inspire vision, stability and comfort. Your image can make a viewer feel he or she is in the best, most experienced hands. With this visual interaction you are building a trust with your audience.
Instill trust and a solid foundation
A logo can build trust and credibility. When you see a company’s logo, even briefly, you feel something. That something can make you uneasy and worried about what you’ll get for your money, or it can make you feel safe. How about McDonalds? (Fat grams and calories aside for a moment), when you see the Golden Arches, most people think good, fun, always-know-what-to-expect-even-in-a-strange-land hamburger. If you are lost in a foreign country, sighting the McDonald’s Logo creates a sense of familiarity and relief.
How about a black circle with two little circles on either side, toward the top. Mickey. (Yes, that might make some mom and dad’s feel faint at the ticket prices), but beyond that, there’s an unparalleled, magical feeling of childhood, laughter and joy. What powerful emotion from three, joined, black circles that transcends language and culture.
If we say your logo is a symbol, by definition it represents the heart and root system of your company. The ultimate goal is for your audience to feel and understand your business on an emotional level and remember it. Sometimes logos can have an abstract relationship, sometimes right in your face. Either way, they must make sense and uniquely tie into your business. If you buy a pair of sneakers with a swoosh on them, do you have any doubt that they will wear out too soon, be uncomfortable, or a waste of money?
Show you are proactive and visionary
Say you’re in the market for a luxury car. You are probably less worried about the obnoxious sales people and more attune to advertising you’ve seen. Which companies immediately come to mind when you think of precision, perfection and technological achievement?
Logos like Jaguar, Mercedes, or BMW convey enough inherent sense of forward thinking that they can appear as the only element on a billboard. There is a confidence you’re in a class of superior engineering, advanced technology, and luxurious style compared to low and mid range automobiles. And even more intriguing, if you’re an owner or in the market for one, doesn’t seeing that particular logo reinforce those ideals to you? How can a little silver kitty on the front of a hood evoke such deep emotional reactions?
Portray confidence and expertise
Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Coca-Cola are recognizable from across a room. With each, you know purchased products are consistent in quality. I’d suggest the most obviously confident is Calvin Klein. But it works, doesn’t it? The smell of CK cologne might trigger a good (maybe bad!) memory for you. Who in real life is more confident than the perfect underwear models that seem to be in endless production? If they don’t radiate self-confidence to that corporation, I’m at a loss for what does!
People will argue Coke is better than Pepsi or vice versa. It really doesn’t matter because both are regarded as the best cola drinks made. Either one far surpasses any of the knock off brands. They are experts in their field. So how does a designer create an image like these for your company?
How does a designer begin? Every creative professional has his or her own methods, but the initial premise and ultimate journey is the same.
Design Is A Process
It is impossible to find parallels of symbolism and create a logo identity without learning about the company, interacting with its employees, understanding the products and services, and examining the competition.
Here a designer starts to understand what ideals the corporate image must convey and what makes the company unique. Now, how to communicate those thoughts, feelings, and ideals onto paper.
I usually carry a small tablet around with me when I’m working on a logo design. I sit at lunch, at red lights, and through the day sketching, scribbling, jotting down thoughts that pop into my head. These aren’t anything for show, but quick ideas that usually springboard to new ones. Eventually one common thread stands out and I’ll extrapolate some tighter focused ideas around that theme.
This is the most important process of design. This is where shapes and words combine into life. Here is where ideas evolve into concrete concepts. These concepts are further reworked, poked and prodded, transformed into more detailed, individual entities. A new idea may still enter into the mix, but results become much more refined and defined.
At a point when gut instinct and some outside opinions say, “That’s a keeper!” I’ll present the top three concepts to the client. I may offer some thoughts about color or other added aesthetic enhancements, but I’m more interested in conveying the underlying meaning of the symbol, and how I think it would speak to an audience and drive the company forward.
I strongly suggest you let an experienced designer help you with your logo development. It’s not unreasonable to pay several thousand dollars for a design. That design should, however, take more than two days to develop and a lot of interaction and explanation! But you have to live with the results and they should be nothing less than great.
When interviewing several graphic artists, ask them how they develop a logo. What steps do they take? Their way might be a bit different than this article, but the general thought should be the same. You’re business is probably your most valued investment. Help the world believe that too by having a logo that conveys it.
Name recognition, building trust, and brand loyalty take time. All of the companies talked about were new once too. And, all are innovators with their own unique, wonderfully expressive faces to the world.
John Krycek is the owner and creative director of http://www.themouseworks.ca. Read additional articles on identity, web and graphic design and logo creation in easy, non-technical, up front English!