The Anatomy of a Logo

2013-05-06 06:23

Perhaps it’s because marketing invades and pervades every aspect of our lives. Perhaps it’s because the tech revolution has made the creation of marketing collateral so easily accessible.

Whatever the reason, marketing is not a field where the experts will ever be left to do what it is they do, the way they know how best to do it – especially when it comes to something as subjective and personal as logo design.

So, before you sign off on that near perfect logo you’ve had commissioned, here are a few things to consider when making your choice.

The Ribbon Device. The Golden Arches. The Swish.

Open Happiness. I’m loving it. Just Do It.

Each and every one of these elements has become an iconic representation of the brand it represents – and even on its own, you know it: it takes you to the heart of the brand, and further reinforces your connection to the product and the idea that that product sells.

Another key aspect of each of these elements is their simplicity – every one of them is a simple, easily replicable, clean and scalable vector shape. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, yet still distinctive and easily recognisable.

Logos vs. Diagrams

While many would agree that your logo element in some way needs to represent what you do, there really is a limit to how far you should take this.

A logo should be simple, stylised, a representation containing the essence of the idea you want to represent. All too often though, clients want to include an amount of detail better suited to a diagram or graphic.

Diagrams are fantastic things, and when you look at a well-laid out diagram you can comprehend immediately how a well-laid out visual representation can encapsulate and simplify a product or service offering in a way that makes it easy to absorb and understand.

Likewise, it’s easy to understand why a client would want a diagrammatical representation to be the most often seen element of their company.

However, a key differentiation between diagrams and logos is size: while you expect to see a diagram full page, any logo element is only ever going to take up one to five percent of the page size – and this is among the largest representations of your logo that you’ll see on a regular basis.

Effectively this means that all that detail that you worked so hard to incorporate will not be visible to the majority of the people that see your logo.

Embroidery & Favicons

Logos get used in a number of places, at a number of sizes, in a wide variety of different formats – from billboards metres high to icons less than half the size of a 10-cent piece.

For me, the litmus test of a good logo has always been embroidery and favicons.

Regardless of what your business looks like now, chances are that your product and service offering are going to change over the coming years, shaping into a completely unique offering that no one else in the world can replicate.

This is one of the reasons marketing will never be a cookie cutter job – every client requires an expert to sit down with them and find out their unique offerings and what sets them apart, and then craft an identity unique to that specific offering.

And while there may be similarities to the offerings proffered by your competitors, your product and service range – and how you go about conducting your day-to-day business – will still be unique to you.

In a nutshell, what this means is that you have no idea where your business is going to go in the next ten years – and you have no idea what collateral uses you’re going to run into.

So while embroidery of your logo onto uniforms may not be an issue right now, in a few years from now, it very well might be – and if your logo is not simple enough to be embroidered, are you going to stop production and redo all your marketing collateral?

Likewise favicons. For those of you that don’t know, a favicon is that little image that appears in the tab of your browser, to the left of the page display name.

Absolutely tiny little binary images, favicons have a very limited amount of space to work with, and yet some logos are still instantly recognisable and look amazing as favicons.

The takeaway from this is that whatever the size, whatever the usage – your logo should always be able to be utilised, and should instantly be recognisable as yours.

Speaking of small…

Logos do not always have to stay in one shape or orientation.

In fact, especially if it is a more complicated logo, it’s a good idea to have a different stack for different size views. Likewise, it’s a good idea to have single-colour options prepared.

The thing is, you really have no idea where, when and how you will be using your logos going forward. And with today’s current trend of cooperative marketing between partners and suppliers, there will often be situations where you do not have final say over the artwork and layout.

This could be for a number of reasons – the other party is the main advertiser, and they have final sign off, or the ad mostly features them.

The purpose of a logo at the end of the day is to create a favourable and memorable impression of your business, products and services.

More importantly though, the purpose of a logo is to put your company name across in a way that makes it easy to read and remember, so that when somebody has a need in your area, they remember you.

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