ASSIGNMENT: ESSAY

  • Some company logos remain virtually unchanged  for decades while other organizations change their branding on a regular basis. What factors are involved in the longevity or otherwise of a logo design.


The main factor involved in creating a longstanding successful brand is an attractive, intelligently designed logo.  As the logo is seen as the face of the brand and can be responsible for forming a first and lasting impression on it’s audience, its design is extremely important. The aesthetic appeal of a logo  is subjective and relative to a person’s mood and taste when they view it, however, there are fundamentals of design that must be followed to ensure that a logo will appeal to anyone.

The fundamentals include, but are not limited to space, color, form, consistency, and clarity. So if we consider a logo’s capacity for longevity a prerequisite for what makes a ‘good’ logo then we can examine the various key factors in designing an effective logo.

  • Simple

A logo should make a statement quickly. It should not require decoding or contain more than one idea. It should be simple but also have easily distinguishable features. A simple logo design allows for the brand to be easily recognised and can make  the logo more  versatile. Simple or small changes can be made without overhauling the entire design.

 

A Good logo can also  feature something  more elaborate or unique without being too complicated or overworked.  Uncomplicated colour schemes lend a cleaner bolder look to a design without being overbearing or difficult to reproduce.

  • Memorable

An effective logo design should be memorable.  It should be easily recognisable. This can be achieved through simplicity and not relying on trends. Trends, by definition,  become dated and unattractive over time which is not conducive to an effective logo with intentions of longevity. If a logo intends to be timeless it must stand outside of trends. Not relying on looking fashionable means the logo will be more unique compared to what else is out there, this will go a long way to establishing a distinguishable identity for the brand it represents.

One of the greatest examples of a timeless logo design is, famously, that of the Coca-Cola logo. It has barely changed over the years, with it’s distinguished type and simple overall design and colour scheme, it is an interesting study in consistency and contrast with the many incarnations of the Pepsi logo.

fig. 1 Coca - Cola logo progression
fig. 1 Coca – Cola logo progression
fig. 2 Pepsi logo progression
fig. 2 Pepsi logo progression

 

  • Versatile

Versatility is important in terms of brand awareness and longevity. An important aspect of a logo is it’s ability to work effectively across various mediums and applications, thereby allowing the logo and brand identity to reach larger audiences through application to broader merchandising and promotional products eg. t-shirts, mugs. A way of insuring this functionality is designing the logo in vector format to allow for scaling. This also involves the design containing a versatility that will allow for it’s effectiveness to translate to things the size of, for example,  a billboard or a stamp.

Consider whether or not the design allows for one colour printing or monochrome printing, does it lose its effectiveness when robbed of colour?  It’s important to the functionality of a logo that it’s not too intricate and that it doesn’t incorporate things like gradients or shadows as integral parts of the design. When the logo is reduced in size or placed on a loud background, it should retain its integrity. Generally a logo should be distinctive, memorable, scalable, describable and reproducible.

Consider your audience and means and factor in printing costs, will you have the funds necessary to print in colour and extreme detail. Try designing in black and white rather than the more subjective, colour, this can also allow for a focus on shape and form and produce a stronger overall design.

Questions to consider, will the design work when;

  • Printed in one colour?
  • Printed on the something the size of a postage stamp?
  • Printed on something as large as a billboard?
  • Printed in reverse (ie. light logo on dark background)
fig. 3 Nike logo
fig. 3 Nike logo

The Nike logo is an excellent example of a simple, memorable and versatile design.

  • Appropriate

Is the design appropriate for the company/brand/product it is representing? will it appeal to the intended audience? is its content relevant to that which it represents. For example if the logo belongs to a toy company it should utilise a childlike colour scheme and font whereas, say, a bank should find a simpler more professional aesthetic.

As a logo is intended purely for identification, it does not need to literally interpret the function its brand offers. For example, Apple does not feature a computer in its logo, instead it features the iconic rendering of an apple. There is no need for the logo to describe what the company does.

  • Other things to consider

leave out the more distracting and unnecessary details, for example, LLC or Inc etc. Taglines can play an important role in the branding of a company but can be too distracting or messy depending on size when it comes to applying it to a logo.

  • Example
fig. 4 Starbuck logo progression
fig. 4 Starbuck logo progression

Starbucks Coffee has enjoyed over 40 years with the same basic design, if only with a few alterations over the years.

The original image of the mermaid was chosen to relate to the maritime background of Starbucks’ home city of Seattle. At the time of its selection it was considered far too graphic to continue as it was and so the mermaids exposed breasts were hidden by strategically placed hair, the brown rendering was then placed on a green ring emblazoned with the brand name, and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon.

The Starbucks coffee cup became a status symbol, a symbol of wealth and means. This was only made possible by the logo and its simple, memorable, versatile and appropriate design. The Starbucks brand owes its success to an intelligently designed logo.

References

  1. What makes a good logo? — David Airey. 2015. What makes a good logo? — David Airey. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.davidairey.com/what-makes-a-good-logo/. [Accessed 15 May 2015].
  2. Do you follow logo design trends? — David Airey. 2015. Do you follow logo design trends? — David Airey. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.davidairey.com/do-you-follow-logo-design-trends/. [Accessed 15 May 2015].
  3. What makes a good logo? | JUST™ Creative. 2015. What makes a good logo? | JUST™ Creative. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.justcreative.com/2009/07/27/what-makes-a-good-logo/. [Accessed 15 May 2015].
  4. 8 Essential Elements to a Comprehensive Brand Identity | Visible Logic. 2015. 8 Essential Elements to a Comprehensive Brand Identity | Visible Logic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.visiblelogic.com/blog/2010/04/8-essential-elements-to-a-comprehensive-brand-identity/. [Accessed 15 May 2015].
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