What is a LOGO?
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. - Paul Rand
At a very basic level, logos can be defined as symbols made up of text and images that identify brands. But they do much more and are the cornerstone of a brand, helping customers and consumers understand what a company/business/brand does, who they are and what they value; a lot of responsibility on one tiny image!
Logos serve many functions, more than just looking pretty, giving a business a unique mark. Demarcating your business, via a good logo provides your customers with crucial information and communicates the industry you exist in, the service/s you provide, your target demographic and your brand values.
A logo should leave a visual impact, create strong visual associations with a business, solidifying an association which helps customers keep your brand in mind. Think, Nike, Coca-Cola or McDonald's, logos so ubiquitous that they can be instantly recognized with or without the name attached.
There are some logos you see, no matter where you are in the world, and you know exactly who they are and what they mean. - LeBron James
Logos are therefore part of your brand, and not the other way around. As mentioned in "What is Branding?", a brand is the set of perceptions people have about a company, the big-picture impression your company leaves on the customer/consumer. This impression can be left by many things, such as advertisements, commercials, customer service, and yes, the logo as well. The logos (and brands) in the above image, address how large corporations such as Nike, Coca-Cola or McDonald's impact the global market as a percentage, and how recognizable they are.
Additionally to these three, Apple’s logo is also iconic and instantly recognizable, but it’s not the only thing that creates their elegant, easy-to-use and customer-friendly brand identity, of which such qualities are expressed through their design choices in billboard ads, commercials, web design and on-site store layout. The logo simply holds the visual association to those things.
Logos is science or reason, something that helps us to function practically and effectively in the world. - Karen Armstrong
The Importance of a good Logo
Your logo is the face of your business, much like a celebrity, and provides any business the option to make it the face of it. This idea is doable and common in getting people to associate a logo with a company by using the actual name of the company as the logo (a wordmark logo). Below, we address the many types of logo choices including Wordmark, Lettermark, Pictorial Mark, Abstract, Mascot, Combination, Emblem and Letterform, with examples and also the historical timelines of and hidden meanings in some of the most recognised logos (and their rebranding over time).
Therefore, a good logo, should appeal to the senses. A logo can (and does) involve many factors such as colour, typography, image and/or tagline, dependent on the company, audience, and intended message, but when choosing its design options it's best to think about it as a connection, whether that is obvious or implied.
LET'S START WITH SOME EXAMPLES (AT A VERY BASIC LEVEL):
TWITTER - whether you use it or not, the blue colour and shape outline of a bird is recognisable. Its meaning and choice in such a design correlates to what do you do with Twitter? You tweet, as does the bird (logo).
McDONALD'S - Similarly, the golden arches or the “M” of McDonald’swere originally used to attract audiences from a distance (recognisable from great distances). The colour choice is bright and happy, appealing to children and a family friendly restaurant environment. The shape reminds you of their famous fries, appealing to various senses.
APPLE- uses a classic yet simple, and globally recognized logo as a symbol of innovation and panache. Like Twitter’slogo, the Appleicon is uncomplicated and stands for the name of the digital corporation (iconographic). The bite taken out of the fruit (apple) is a connection to the biblical connotation of “the forbidden fruit" and invites customers to “eat the apple” (i.e. engage with the brand) as well as a play on the word “byte” – a foundation term used in computing and information technology.
Are you noticing a trend or a pattern? Is it starting to be clearer that a logo is more than just an image, but rather a broader representation, filled with connotation and meaning? Perhaps you've noticed this before or questioned it in the back of your mind. As "design" is a form of visual communication, designing a logo, is therefore exactly that.