The Fascination with Logo Design
November 10, 2014
If you were asked to define Nike’s brand, you might point to or describe their trademarked swoosh. Similarly, if pressed to define McDonald’s brand, you might refer to the iconic golden arches. It’s the panda for WWF and of course the apple with a bite out of it for Apple.
But, in describing a brand as its logo, you would be wrong. Instead of describing a brand, you’re describing the mark that’s used to identify a company’s products, website, clothing, etc. You are describing the logo.
A brand is what a company stands for, what the company delivers, and how the company tells its story. It’s the sum of how a company is perceived by its buyers (or haters). A brand influences on multiple levels: the product itself, the tone of the advertising, and the settings in which it’s found, to name a few. This goes much deeper than a logo alone could hope to achieve.
So why are we still so fascinated with companies’ logos? Business Insider, for example, just published an article exposing 16 logo redesigns in 2014. We have also covered the topic over the years and in working with companies on their logo, we’ve found most people are quick to have an opinion on logo creation. Considering a logo is often a buyer’s first interaction with a company, it is logical that business owners would be anxious that their logo is “just right.” However, if pressed to list what the logo is meant to signify – or what part of the brand’s story this mark would serve visually stamp out – business leaders aren’t as quick to jump in with concrete ideas.
The fascination with the logo is how much it is expected to communicate from first glance. Consider the Apple logo. It quickly communicates the sleek, simple design that’s critical to this brand’s story and product offering. It also hints at the brand’s Archetype, or how it relates to their audience: they are the rebel. The apple hints at the biblical rebel, Eve, who took a bite out of a fruit after having been told by God to leave it alone. Apple remains an iconic, easily recognized brand, and while Apple did a lot with its brand to achieve that fame, the famous logo inspires other companies to ask designers for a standout logo, like Apple.
Instead of asking a designer or your marketing team to design an “awesome new logo,” for a fresh look, step out of the fascination phase for a moment and consider it strategically. After all, Olive Garden received considerable flak for changing its logo, even though it was clearly designed to match the company’s shift in focus.
First, it’s important to make sure your designers or marketing partners understand your brand. This means brand positioning, key messaging, clients, internal communications, marketplace trends, brand archetype, even your competition. This will require a bit of research on your part, and might be best served in partnership with an objective third party.
Next, revisit who you’re targeting with your logo. New customers? Returning? Are you trying to lure business from your competition based on your new look and offering? Are you trying to keep up with a shift in trends in your marketplace? Are you hoping to stand out in your industry, or fit in?
Armed with an understanding of the goals, history, and brand story, your team can begin the process of brainstorming a new logo. It’s a good idea to test out several different logo directions, playing with color, fonts, and designs. The logo should speak to your brand tone, but also leave a strong impression with your intended audience. Your logo should also translate across multiple mediums (paper, screens, clothing) at different sizes, and in color as well as black and white.
While this post only touches on some of the aspects of designing a logo, keep in mind that the success of your new logo doesn’t hinge on how amazing or momentous the new design is. Rather, your ability to use it consistently, bravely, and repeatedly in environments that make sense for your brand will determine your logo’s recognition. Its success ultimate success will depend on that of your brand.