How to design a successful cross-media logo
by Michael Lovatt, Art Director, redmoonmedia
In the world of marketing, people talk a lot about “image”. Branding is a major part of this. It's what makes your company unique and helps it stand out from competitors. Corporate identity is one of the most essential building blocks of your brand. Whether it is a large or small company, every product and service needs a good logo to stand out in the marketplace.
Because logos are everywhere, it is essential for a logo to be unique and at the same time easy to see and understand. Through my years working in the advertising industry I have designed numerous logos, including sub brands for multinationals such as Toyota and Coca-Cola. The key underlying elements in these logos have always been the same: they are simple, unique and honest. They have meaning and successfully exude the brand’s attitude. The best logos in the world work because they are instantly recognisable. Even if you see only the corner of Nike's swoosh you still know it is Nike. In my experience it is simplicity and repetition that accomplish this.
There is a tendency for people to try to do too much with their logo. There is nothing worse than a busy logo - one with too many colors, too many typestyles, and too many images. Trying to be too many things at one time is not a well focused brand. For this reason we always strive to keep the design as simple and direct as possible.
A successful logo needs to represent the values a company holds. If you are designing a logo for the consumer foods market it needs to use friendly typestyles and bright colors. If you are designing a logo for a luxury goods company, the logo should use elegant typefaces and subdued colors. The rule of thumb is to match the design qualities within the logo to the market in which it will be known.
A major part of any logo is the tag line. This is the discriptor or slogan that you will see under many logos. The tag line needs to be honest and to the point. It needs to describe what you do in as few words as possible. Sometimes when tag lines are successful they become as well known as the logo itself! Think of Nike's 'Just do it' or Sony's 'Its a Sony'.
A successful logo should maintain its impact and integrity across all mediums. It should be legible both large and small on materials ranging from paper to cloth. It needs to look good on the web but also in black & white on a fax sheet.
Extending the life of your existing logo: "The Facelift"
If you have a logo that you have been using for many years and have invested in, it is sometimes better to go for a 'facelift'. Small improvements and subtle changes can help refine an existing logo and bring it into the contempory marketplace. A slight modification to the typestyle, the addition of a new graphical element or a change of colors may re-enliven. For example, the Institute of Physical Therapy:
Our design process
We always start with the brand name itself. What does it embody? What words resonate with it? Of course we listen carefully to our client. We engage in a creative exploration with them. We find typestyles and graphical elements that work together and begin to build the brand image. We also always start with black and white. If a logo works in black & white it will work in colour. Below is an example of a first set of design samples a client would see. We like to provide a range of ideas and get our client's sense of them.
From the above we narrow down to the 2 or 3 which resonate with the client's feel for the brand. We then refine and expand - experimenting with color and new combinations. Soon we are beginning to move in a clear direction and style. The final stages explore small nuances and colour variations until we arrive at the final logo.
Notice that the tag line has come in to complete the definition. It explains and defines the image and drives the product.
10 Tips for creating a successful logo
- Before you begin, identify sample logos you like and share these with the designer. It is useful to Google your field of business to see what your competitors and other companies are doing.
- Keep it simple. It will be easier to remember, and leave a stronger impression on people who see it.
- Your logo should look contemporary but not trendy. Trends come and go, and you don’t want your logo to look outdated next year.
- Use typefaces, colors and graphic elements that appeal to your market and target audience.
- Your logo should be unique - to differentiate you from your competitors.
- Make sure the logo reflects the key values of your brand, ie: modern, dynamic, youthful, exclusive etc.
- Make sure your logo works equally as well in all mediums such as web, print, tv, etc.
- Give yourself time when creating a logo. Stick a printout on the office wall . Looking at it for a few days can yield insights.
- If time and budget allow it is helpful to have a focus group evaluate your proposed logo.
- Design by commitee is best avoided as it often leads to a compromised logo.
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