Humans have been branding for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians left their mark with hieroglyphs over temples and tombs, farmers have branded their cattle to denote ownership and even cavemen were leaving their marks. The late nineteenth century saw the dawn of large corporations that required a unique trademark to distinguish their product from an inferior one, to help build trust with an increasing consumer market. Since then logos have become commonplace in the world – we’re surrounded by them. So how do we create logos that work and connect with our audience? Here are five (or six) pointers that are useful to consider when designing a logo.
SIMPLE IS BEST
By keeping a logo simple and not over complicating the design, allows it to live long in the memory. If I were to ask you to draw the logos of some of the most successful brands in the world such as Nike, McDonalds or Apple you would probably be able to sketch them out pretty clearly from memory. That’s because they are unique but not trying to show too much.
Successful logos are the ones that people will remember after only glancing at them briefly, this is achieved by being simple, yet distinctive. The London Underground symbol is a perfect example of this.
Trends in design come and go. But unlike fashion trends, building a successful brand identity relies on familiarity and longevity. Don’t follow trends, you want a logo which will still look good in five, ten, twenty, even fifty years.
MAKE SURE IT’S ADAPTABLE
Today a successful logo needs to work across a wide variety of applications. It may need to work: at a small and large scale; for embroidery; in single colour; on a dark background; for horizontal and vertical output. When designing a logo think about and show how this will work.
Some companies, such as MTV or Google even deploy logo systems which are taking advantage of advances in technology – in particular on TV or the web, which means a logo doesn’t have to be the same every day, it can evolve within the original logos framework, for example Google’s logo online will look festive on Christmas day. These systems are becoming more and more common with online organisations today.
Receiving bad news from a lawyer whose letterhead reveals a logo set in a cartoon typeface, with multi-coloured lettering and a childish backward ‘S’ would probably not feel appropriate to many people. Any logo design should use appropriate typefaces, colours and/or symbols which are relevant to the business that it represents.
One of the reasons we brand is to gain trust and this goes beyond logo design alone, a logo does not need to show what your business sells, (the Mercedes logo doesn’t have a car on, there’s not a book anywhere in the Penguin logo), a logo is quite simply an identification for a business or service.
As Paul Rand said.
Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.