Logos: What makes them work
Effective logos. A customer’s first impression of a company
Logos are an interesting part of our culture. The development of a great logo is fascinating. Developing the subliminal messages a logo contains is both a science and an art.
Logo design takes a lot of thought and effort; most importantly, it takes a good, hard look at a company to determine what messages the logo should carry and how those messages are to be conveyed.
To design a great logo requires an understanding of:
- what a logo does;
- what elements make up a great logo;
- and how to develop strategies for effectively using one.
Logos. Icons of status; symbols of understanding
Everyone seems to have a logo. Our society is awash in logos of all types. Everywhere we look–on signs, car windows, and clothes–we see logos. Logos have become so entrenched in our culture that we have come to expect to see them on every hat, T-shirt or jacket. Some attract us; some do not. If asked, most of us could discuss impressions about a logo, but few understand what it takes to develop an appropriate symbol to stand in for the message to be conveyed by a company or a product.
Symbols are powerful tools in communication.
Symbolism has long been known as a powerful teaching and information technique. The greatest teachers the world has ever known taught us using metaphors and symbols. Modern logos, when properly developed, can have that same power to teach and convey information.
A company’s logo can be words only, pictures only, or it can be both.
In fact, the word, logo, from the ancient Greek, means word or speech. The definition of the Greek word, icon, is picture. Logos become icons of identity. The modern logo often incorporates both concepts.
The weight given each (word/message and design/art) is important. The audience at which the logo is aimed is also an important part of the design decision.
Where does one start to develop a logo?
Knowing what to put in the logo is important but it is more than just a design. The Rock of Gibraltar has long been a symbol of strength, endurance and protection. It is often used in our language as a catch phrase denoting those characteristics. When Prudential Life Insurance adopted it as the art element of its logo, its familiar silhouette carried with it those qualities in an instantaneous symbol to the public for which the company wished to be known.
Coca Cola’s product logo was simply the product name done in a customized typeface. The company’s use of it has been consistent in presenting both the name of the product and the name of the company. Coca Cola learned the hard way that even the public can be made to insist on that consistency as it represented “the real thing” to the buying public. All of us at sometime have noted the “new look” that a company has developed on a product only to be left wanting, in the back of our minds, the “old look” of a trusted product or company.
What makes a logo effective?
Part of a logo’s effectiveness, in addition to its basic design, comes from a consistent usage. Part of it also comes from the repetition–seeing something that becomes as familiar and expected as the shape of a stop sign.
The content of a logo is certainly the most important element but a consistent strategy in using the logo carries its own message. A case in point, American Express, several years ago abandoned its use of logos for each division and adopted a new strategy aimed at unifying its identity across all markets. The “blue box” is now the only logo used and the division is denoted in words, such as “Travel” or “Card Services” that only appear at the lower right corner of the box. The company forbids the use of its logo as part of another art device. There are standards concerning how close the logo can be situated to other copy or graphic elements.
American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), after the breakup of the “bell companies” (all using the famous bell in a circle logo) dropped that logo and adopted a striped globe reminiscent of a look at our planet from space. With its recent acquisition of cellular companies the new logo has now returned to the old striped globe, only in a “new look,” the blue and white colors have been reversed. The lower case logotype, “at&t,” only appears to the right or immediately below the graphic element. This image represents, or symbolizes, a new organization with new technology but with strong ties to the old, trusted “American Telephone and Telegraph” company.
ThriveMarketing and the message of our logo
In the development of our own company name and logo, we spent many hours determining how we could convey those characteristics important to us. We wanted to make an exclamation that marketing, with integrated approaches and a flair of creativity, can make virtually any company thrive if given a skillful combination of tactical approaches to fulfill its marketing strategy.
We used colors known from advertising to symbolize eye-catching strength and richness—the reds and golds—and integrated symbols into our name to project a vibrant and positive approach. We knew the word, marketing would be an integral part of the design.
Such communication does not just happen; it must be created with the care of any fine, artistic composition. One can almost hear the conversations as the Rock of Gibraltar was proposed to convey the characteristics that Prudential wanted to convey. When done correctly, it would be almost the same conversation in every case as “the lights go on” at the end of a logo search.
Once the right logo is found, the best way to enhance it is to use it.
When a company recognizes what the right logo can do for it, and adopts a consistent and long-range approach to its use, then the logo can convey the correct messages to the customer. Whatever the logo design becomes, it should be one that is in for the long haul. Consistent and long-term use is a great part of the overall logo strategy.
We Can Help with Logo & Brand Identity Design
Does your brand have what it takes to thrive? At ThriveMarketing, we will help you determine the following as part of designing your logo and brand identity:
- Your message
- Your brand’s personality
- How you want customers to think of you
- The right message
- The right colors
- If your brand is consistent across all your marketing materials (from your brochure to your website)
Request samples of our work and/or interview us to help you design a logo/brand identity by requesting a proposal online or by calling 1.866.521.0827. We look forward to the possibility of working with you!