This month, dRC will be discussing one of my favorite things to design – logos.
First off, it is important to know that your logo is NOT your brand. The term “brand” can be confusing because it has evolved from its origins on the ranch, branding cattle with a hot iron to signify ownership, through the early days of advertising, during which “brand” simply described a logo or package design, to what it means today, sort of a catch-all word.
Today a brand is an amalgam of everything a company says and does that a customer experiences – from what your marketing materials say to how your staff answers the phone. A brand denotes how a company is holistically perceived. Every action should exude the goals of a brand, thus controlling every aspect of its perception.
As designers, we don’t design brands. But we DO design the critical visual component of a brand identity – the logo. A logo, in simple terms, is a unique identifying symbol, the face of a company. It is often the first point of contact and accomplishes (hopefully) the job of creating a critical, controlled first impression. It functions as a brand “voice” to say “Hello!” when no audible voice can be heard, which means often. That is a job that shouldnt be overlooked. At its least, a logo means a brand exists. At its most, it speaks for a brand in a unique, memorable way that attracts eyes like moths to the light. It’s the tone setter for the rest of a brand.
A logo contains very little in terms of components; shapes, letters, space and color. It sounds so simple, like anyone could easily create a logo on a napkin during a quick lunch at Subway. But there are two problems with that. First, it is NOT easy. It is probably the hardest job I have to do and the biggest challenge. Which is why I love it. Secondly, there is no room to sketch on a Subway napkin because their logo is TOO big!
Good designers make designing a logo look easy. But it can be incredibly difficult. Millions of logos exist in the world, each one vying for attention. All are built from those same simple tools (shapes, letters, space and color). We all work with the same tools to create a logo that stands out, differentiates, communicates and sets the tone for a brand. Oh, and it needs to just as effective on a blimp as it is on an iPhone. And it needs to be memorable. And, and, and…
And, perhaps most importantly, a logo must be, at its heart, simple.
A logo does not provide the space required to tell an entire story. Its job is to represent the essence of a business. Have you ever picked up a book simply because you liked the title and the artwork on the cover? A logo is like that book cover, but with fewer words (if any) and less artwork… and smaller.
Its not just important that a logo matters. A well-designed, precisely crafted, effective logo is critical.
I look forward to this month’s exploration into the intricacies of logo design and how we can make them matter.