The power of a logo is fascinating. Children as young as three can begin to recognize that a logo stands for a product or service, and by the time they’re seven, they can recall what product or service a particular logo represents. According to a Logos Now study on logo treatments and brand perception, the top 10 companies with the most widely recognized logos in the US and UK are Nike, followed by Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Amazon, Target, and Adidas.
No graphics are needed here; most consumers can see clearly in their mind’s eye what each of the above logos looks like…the swoosh, the dot, the arches…they’re all familiar icons on our cultural landscape.
As a brand’s single most identifying factor, the logo is almighty, in both a commercial and psychological sense. “If, in the business of communications, ‘image is king,’ the essence of this image, the logo, is the jewel in its crown,” said acclaimed graphic designer Paul Rand, who has developed logos for IBM, Westinghouse, UPS and ABC, among others.
The anatomy of logo creation is equally compelling. Good logo design and development is about so much more than getting the graphic elements right; it’s about knowing who your company or organization is…not so much what you do, but who you are. It’s also about who your customers and prospects are and what they want from you.
Long before hiring a designer, companies that want to be widely recognized and associated with a logo (who doesn’t?) can avoid multiple or misguided design options and extra costs by asking themselves some key questions first:
What do we stand for?
Again, your logo should say who you are and not what you do. If, for example, you’re a business that repurposes old computer parts to build new machines, you might prefer a logo that suggests your environmental consciousness and resourcefulness, as opposed to one that shows a dismantled and rebuilt computer (which would be an awfully cluttered logo to boot, no pun intended).
Multiple sources concur that the number one rule in logo design is simplicity. But a logo cannot possibly convey everything there is to know about a brand, so distinguishing your principal values and aspirations is essential. Think of it as an “elevator speech” in a single image. Do you esteem speed, innovation, conservation, reliability, exploration, durability? Knowing who you are and what you champion will guide everything else in the creation of your logo.
Who are our customers (or who do we want them to be)?
Who is your target audience and what do they value most? You may be proud of your 75 years in business, but that is probably not what’s most important to consumers. They care that you can offer them a solution and that you value the things they value.
Consider Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Both companies offer the same basic products, but from very different atmospheric and cultural standpoints. Starbucks embodies upscale, West Coast sophistication, while Dunkin’ Donuts plays to a more down-to-earth, unfussy vibe. Customers side fiercely with one or the other, for reasons far beyond coffee grounds. The two powerhouse logos convey those differences, too.
What do we have to offer that our competitors don’t?
Knowing what makes you unique and outstanding in your space is crucial to logo development. Start by nit-picking your competition; what do you do better than they? What do you do less effectively? Where and when are their spikes and dips in sales? How are they marketing themselves? What are people saying about them on social media?
Ask your current customers what they like most about doing business with you. Maintain online conversations to get even more insight. Though it may hurt, you may find things you could improve upon, which is every bit as valuable as knowing what you’re doing right.
What is our personality?
Is your brand bold, whimsical, conservative, adventurous, flirty, swanky, inventive, serious, stable, tough? Decide what attitude you want to project and capture it in your logo so that it’s evident from a single glance. All the various graphic elements of a logo (colors, lines, font, weight, positive and negative space, proportion, balance, scalability) must synergize to tell the world who you are in a moment.
How do we stay modern, but also timeless?
“Familiarity does not breed contempt” where logos are concerned, according to a study by Logos Now. In fact, revealed the study, respondents assign positive attributes to brands they are familiar with and negative attributes to brands they are not. While it’s not uncommon for companies to adapt their logos to reflect a new direction or more contemporary times (Pepsi has had 11 logos in 120 years), frequent re-designs can signal an identity crisis and even threaten your customers’ confidence in – and loyalty to – you.
Keep in mind, too, that what’s here today is often gone tomorrow, especially in our world of viral phases and crazes. But you can still be relevant (and cost-effective!) in your logo design by keeping it minimal in detail and rooted in characteristics that, while perhaps restrained, will always be valued.
Versatility and adaptability, however, are musts for logo design. From pens to billboards, your logo has to look clear, clean and uncomplicated on all forms of media, clothing and products. Your graphic designer can help you navigate those waters before you proceed with the first stroke of art.
Our team of experts can help you create a logo that not only says who you are, but also shows customers and prospects how you can add value to their lives.
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