Logo Design: distinguished, decent or deficient?
By Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef
Good Logos: Nike’s swoosh. The Double Arches. The Apple. The Olympic Rings. The Mercedes “Propeller”. These logo samples are effectively marketing stop signs. At their best, logos help clients find your offering amid the marketing din. At their worst, logos can be discordant, difficult to comprehend and disconnected to your message. Remember the logo for the London Olympics 2012?
The Importance of Logos
Logos are the graphical representation of your organization. They allow your target audience to recognize and identify with your brand. Logo designs often use a combination of shapes, images, fonts and colors to create a symbol that becomes a memorable focal point of your offering and a psychological anchor for your brand.
Effective logos have several common characteristics. Part 1 will center on the conceptual principles of logo design. Part 2 will focus on the technical guiding principles for logo design.
Part 1: CONCEPTUAL PRINCIPLES
Effective designs possess three important strategic traits: they are memorable, distinct and representative.
“Honey, can you pick up a few items from the store for me?”
“Sure.” Your spouse reels of a list of specific items – “It’s only six things, no need to write it down” you tell yourself.
You walk along the cereal aisle and you can’t remember the brand she usually purchases. You scan the shelves. Suddenly there it is — the cereal box with the orange circle and honey wand. On to the cookie aisle – there it is! The cookies in the blue packaging and big white lettering, little red triangle in the top left corner. Now the detergent with orange and yellow circles and blue lettering.
Phew, half way through the shopping! Now I just need to find the right ice cream, spaghetti sauce and seasoning. Found it! I recognize the polar bear with the silver packaging. There’s the jar with a face as part of the logo. And what was the spice I was supposed to get? A see the yellow tin with a blue block with reversed out white lettering and underneath the words in red “Seasoning.” Success! Memorable logos save my marriage!
A memorable logo allows your clients to pick you out from a field of competitors, even when they can’t quite recall your name or the name of your product.
Perhaps the most memorable design of all time is the classic New York rebus. (A representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols). The “love” logo is globally recognized, remembered and replicated.
Nike was certain that their logo was so memorable that they aired a series of television commercials that didn’t cite the company’s name. The closing frame was merely the internationally known “swoosh” and a hashtag: #FindGreatness. The ads worked since Nike had made its symbol so memorable that the viewer, upon seeing the swoosh, subconsciously added the word: Nike. Engaging the audience to recollect the company’s name in response to the image made the ads more compelling and persuasive. However, the strategy only works because of the strength of the association between Nike and the “swoosh” symbol.
Ever traveled to a country that uses a different alphabet? Did you find, (perhaps with some relief), your favorite cola? You couldn’t read the writing, but you knew it was a Pepsi or a Coke. Blue with a tri-colored sphere? Pepsi. Red with a white ribbon? Coca-Cola.
The logos are so distinctive you don’t need to be able to read or understand the inscription on the can. But it wasn’t always that way. For the first 60 years, Pepsi’s logo was primarily a red script and it wasn’t until 1962 they changed it to the block letters that distinguished it from Coca-Cola. Pepsi evolved its logo to be more distinctive, and loyal consumers were able to find their beverage much more easily. And more recently, they have evolved to the red, white and blue ball as their primary mark.
As with all your marketing endeavors, your logo should strengthen your message, brand and positioning in the minds of your target audience.
Despite its relative youth, Twitter, the social media icon simplified its brand in 2012, a mere six years after its launch. They dropped the “Twitter” bubbly text as a logo, and now only use the bluebird mascot, gave it a haircut and tilted its head and beak upward. Their well-chosen logo is literally an icon that represents the short, sharp “tweet.” The design reinforces the image of its service and communicates an expectation to the social media user: communicate upwards, clean, sharp … perhaps even piercing?
NBC’s familiar peacock quietly reminds viewers of its long history in television. The logo was unveiled in 1956 with NBC’s groundbreaking move into broadcasting in color. In addition, it remains representative with its suggestion to the diversity of programming the NBC networks offer viewers.
Your logo needs to bolster your brand in the minds of your customer. The London 2012 Olympic committee paid $800,000 for their design, stating that the logo is a cutting-edge appeal to the young people of the world. The consensus reaction was the opposite. Rather than innovative, the design struck people as retrospective of the 1980’s: fluorescent neon clothing, boom boxes and bad perms. Compare this to Tinder logo, which resonates with the demographic group the Olympic committee was seeking to engage. This sleek logo makes the 2012 graphic look trivial and chaotic. As always, targeting your audience appropriately is paramount to developing your logo, brand, message and your entire marketing recipe.
Careless communication and thoughtless targeting is damaging, but a logo with a double-entendre can be ruinous. Logos that suffer from optical illusions can make your brand unappealing, the butt of jokes, or potentially be offensive.
However, a powerful logo helps your prospects remember, find and differentiate you from your competitors. A deficient logo can contribute to your demise. Excellent logos not only deliver competitive advantage but also can contribute directly to your bottom line.
Tomorrow, we’ll complement these conceptual principles with tangible technical guiding principles for creating your logo!