In today's fast-paced and competitive business climate, developing and maintaining a strong brand is more important than ever. A logo is undoubtedly the single most powerful visual representation of the brand — that symbol must work extremely hard to connect with audience and to be true to the brand. So when it's time to create a new logo or update an existing one, it's important to remember some fundamental rules. Here are five of them:
This is a principle of branding, but can also be applied to logo design. Know what the competition looks like and do something that's unique — people remember things that are different. If a brand looks like everyone else's in the segment, then there's nothing to set that product/service or organization apart. Differentiation takes confidence and courage but can pay off immensely. Once I read that the Nike swoosh logo was a compromise by Nike executives — what they really wanted was stripes (like Adidas).
This seems easy enough, but is actually difficult to pull off successfully. If you over-simplify, you run the risk of ending up with something boring, so you've got to make sure it has visual interest. It's tempting to use fancy graphic tricks like gradient fills, drop shadows, trendy type and and 3-D effects, but these tricks tend to get dated and usually end up not reproducing well across various mediums. Avoid including too many concepts in a logo — simple designs that suggest one thing are easier to remember and will not get dated as quickly.
When Federal Express was going through a rebranding process in the late ’90s, Landor Associates suggested shortening the name to FedEx. They created a very effective logo and tagline Delivering the world on time. The logo employs a hidden symbol between the capital letter E and the letter x. That simple arrow is a powerful visual device — once you see it, you'll always remember it. That symbol ties in beautifully with the brand in a simple, elegant fashion.
3. CONVEY MEANING
The best brands stand for an idea or a strategic position. Make sure your logo stands for something meaningful — understanding what a design represents accelerates recognition and bridges the gap between brand strategy and creative design. Logos that have meaning provide context and offer better recall — which makes it much more powerful than a logo that's just looks good.
Example: Amazon. Although the company initially started selling books online, the name grew with the company as they started selling more diverse products. The design of the logo says it all — we sell everything from A to Z (with a smile). It's friendly, approachable and looks like it's easy to do business with. True.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLOR (AND STICK WITH IT!)
Color has the ability to convey meaning and can offer immediate brand associations. It has the power connect emotionally, but can be subjective — while one person may LOVE yellow and orange, someone else may have a negative reaction because of past associations. I can hear someone now — Oh no! those colors remind me of a sofa we had in the '70s. Consider color carefully and use that color consistently. Over time, that color can become yours — what we refer to as "owning" a color.
Try this little quiz — when you see these company names, what color do you think of?
5. Tiffany & Co.
5. BE CONSISTENT
Establish standards that illustrate proper use of all logo variations. Use the logo consistently on everything you produce and use the correct logo for the specific application. You should have one color, two color (or more), horizontal, vertical, CMYK, RGB, JPG, PNG and vector at a minimum. Just be sure to use the logo with care and respect and to use consistently. Over time, this will build equity for the brand.
Check out these links for more information on logo and brand identity design: