What do you see when you hear each of the following words? Ford. Coca-Cola. McDonald’s. It’s a good bet that the first thing that appears in your mind’s eye is the logo. Logos are the way that we identify a product or company. It’s the introduction to the experience of buying something or using a service. If we have a good experience, just seeing the logo can bring back the positive feelings and inspire us to go back for more. Not convinced? How do you feel when you see someone wearing a shirt or cap emblazoned with the logo of your favorite sports team?
A good logo is immediately identifiable with the company it’s promoting. Even if you’ve never owned an Apple product, you’ve seen the logo countless times, probably in a silver or illuminated silhouette:
It’s omnipresent. There’s a reason that it’s prominently displayed on the lid of each MacBook and back of every iPad and iPhone. It’s immediate and free advertising for Apple. Every time a character on a television show or in a movie uses their computer, or someone walking down the street pulls out their iPhone, the audience or passers-by see the logo, and the simple repetition of the logo in their daily lives will lead them to think that the brand is of value, since so many people use it. When you see this logo, you connect it with cutting-edge innovation and trendy must-have gadgets.
The Apple logo has no text, not even a single letter. It’s an incredibly simple shape that can be drawn with only two curving lines. Many of the most successful logos are just an image, and the less complicated it is, the greater the visual impact and recognition factor.
Then there’s the Kraft logo.
You’ve seen it stamped on cheese packages, peanut butter and mayonnaise jars, and macaroni and cheese boxes all your life. It’s intimately connected with comfort food and home cooking. They tried to re-invent the Kraft logo in 2009, going to a multi-colored starburst and a new font, and it failed. By 2011 they were back to a tweaked but instantly recognizable Kraft logo.
Even when Kraft’s attempt at re-invention failed, they did not go completely back to the original logo. While they kept the red outline border and the blue text, they went from all caps to just an initial capital K, followed by lowercase characters, and darkened the font color to a deeper blue. At the same time, the red of the outer shape was brightened up. These small changes refreshed the look rather than making it unrecognizable. You want the comfort of recognition along with your comfort food!
So, Kraft, Apple, and a host of other companies already have their iconic logos. Your task as a designer is to either re-invent the brand identification of an existing company with a new and improved logo, or create a logo to introduce a new product or company to the market. It’s a big challenge.
You need to know the company: its products, its market, and where it wants to go in future. You need to think about what the current design trends are, while at the same time trying to create a logo that will stand the test of time. You need to consider how a logo can be used in print or online in advertising, as well as on the products themselves. A good logo can be scaled up or down in size, from a billboard to a cell phone, and still be effective.
No matter how clever your design, a logo is only a success if it develops brand identity for your client and brand loyalty from the customers. Use your knowledge of the client, research into their intended customer demographic, and the principles of good design to come up with a logo that will hit just the right spot.