The logo for a company, product, or service is typically a graphic image or symbol that is derived from or supports a brand name. It could be a logotype – a uniquely designed typeface associated with the brand (“Coca-Cola,” “IBM,” or “Xerox,” for example). In other cases, the brand logo is purely graphic – an image or rendering of some kind (such as the apple for Apple or “good hands” for Allstate). Sometimes, the logo is a combination of both type and a graphic.
A logo must be:
The logo should attract and hold the attention of your target audience. A logo should catch the eye and engage the customer or prospect. Often, a great logo is easier to remember than the name of the company or product itself. People who see a duck on television may think of the company name “AFLAC” because the duck has been part of a highly successful corporate advertising campaign.
The logo should capture the essence of the company, product, or service. This makes it meaningful to the customer or prospect. The Apple logo – a streamlined graphic of an apple with a bite taken out of it – is obviously representative of the company’s name, but it also suggests that the company is whimsical and out of the ordinary.
Differentiating a company, product, or service from competitors is essential, but it’s increasingly difficult to be unique. Consumers are exposed to brand packaging, advertising, and promotion many times a day. Great logos have a way of standing apart and making a unique statement. The FedEx logo has two unique qualities:
1. It is the core of a clever color coding scheme for the company’s services. The color of the word “Ex” changes based on each service (In FedEx Ground, the Ex is green, in FedEx Express, the Ex is orange, etc.)
2. The logo has a hidden arrow in it. Look at the space between the E and the X and you will see a white arrow representing movement and speed.
Great logos have several attributes in common. In addition to being distinctive in design and enhancing the name of the company, product, or service, a great logo is:
Intriguing but not intricate
The best logos are intriguing, like the FedEx example above, but that doesn’t mean they have to be intricate. You’ll notice that a great logo often looks very simple to the eye, but there is something compelling about it that makes you look again. Typically, a great logo doesn’t use very complex graphics to get its message across – it tends to be clean, streamlined, and strong… but very engaging.
Easy to understand globally
Nowadays, business is global, so logos need to be universally understandable. A great logo works well regardless of language or cultural differences. The graphic image should translate well or be adaptable around the world.
Reproducible in color and black and white only
It is true that color has become an accepted part of contemporary marketing, but there are still times when black and white is necessary. You might want to run a print ad in a newspaper in black and white only because color usually costs more. You might need to make one-color copies of something with your logo on it. That’s why great logos are reproducible in both color and when black is the only color used.
Applicable to everything
There are more media choices available to advertisers than ever before, and that means a logo can be seen in many places: printed communications, print advertising, television advertising, direct mail, email, Facebook pages, websites, and so on. Not only that, logos often need to appear on signs, trucks, uniforms, coffee mugs – and who knows what else. A great logo is designed to apply well to everything. It looks great whether it is being used very large or very small and regardless of the medium.
Carefully controlled for consistency
Designers of logos establish rules for their use to maintain consistency. These rules address things like the minimally acceptable logo size, the exact color or colors used in the logo, and how the logo should be used in different media. Such rules protect the integrity of the logo and assure that it looks right, wherever it appears.
The logo is just one part of building a strong brand identity. And here’s something to think about: Brand identity isn’t just for big brands – it’s just as important for small brands. Learn more about brand identity, including logos, in my Udemy course, Big Brand Strategies for Small Brands.
About the author:
Barry Silverstein has over thirty years experience in branding, marketing and advertising. He is an independent brand marketing consultant, published author, and freelance writer. Find out more about him on LinkedIn.