Today we’re going to take a look at the aspects of an effective logo with world renowned designers David Airey, Jerry Kuyper (who designed the logos for TouchStone Pictures, Cisco and AT&T to name but a few), Milton Glaser (creator of the iconic “I love NY” logo) and Daniel Berumen. We hope you find this post useful!
Why A Good Logo Really Is That Important
Some may be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t a great deal involved in creating a decent logo, but it’s arguably one of the most important aspects of modern design. A powerful logo can assist your client’s customers in remembering the business more easily than their competition and that can translate into more profits from return visits, certainly something that’s very worthy of investing time in. It’s about more than just putting together some text, it’s about brand identity.
As Dan rightly puts it, creating a good logo is more than just spending 30 minutes in front of Photoshop playing around with a few filters.
As a “jack of all trades” I know that I’ve personally found myself many-a-time asked to create logos by clients who were looking for a web designer to create them an all-in-one package – that’s correct – code, design and initial branding. In larger companies, it makes sense to separate these three areas by profession and have either dedicated people or teams who work on each of them, because believe us, a strong brand can make all the difference in a competitive market.
In smaller companies however (especially in the earlier stages), you as a designer may be asked to create a concept logo that the company can use for their site or application – with the recession on and budgets being tight, don’t be surprised if you are. Having extra skills in this area will only make you more valuable to a company, so consider reading this series some useful professional development. Almost every UI guy I’ve ever worked with has done this before and if you’re chuckling while reading this, then you’ve already been through this process too.
If however you haven’t designed a logo before or are a logo or graphics designer wishing to fine-tune their logo skills, today’s logo and brand identity advice will be extremely useful.
“A good logo is more than just good typography…it’s an exercise in creating something memorable”
You guys can skip down, but before we get into the article, I’m going to give you some advice based on my own experience in logo design and creating brand identities: A good logo is more than just some text with gradients applied to it – that’s fine for a small project, but if you’re designing for a business, there’s a little more to it.
A good logo is an exercise in creating something that will resonate with your target audience in a way that’s memorable. What makes a McDonald’s more easily recognizable than your local fish and chip shops, or Dunkin Donuts more memorable than any other bakery?. It’s because when you think of the name, your brain associates two things with it: the brand’s logo that’s so simple you know it off by heart and secondly the product they sell.
It can take a little practice, but you’ll find that just following some of Daniel’s advice below will help you get leaps and bounds more efficient at designing good logos. I personally find that sticking to the acronym M.A.R.S helps to remind me about the power of brand identity when I’m designing. (M)emorable, (A)pplicabile, (R)ecognizable and (S)imple. See? That’s not so hard. Give it a try!.
And without further adieu, I now hand the reigns over to our experts for their contributions.
Aspects of An Effective Logo – Daniel Berumen
These are some of the aspects of good logo design based on my experience as a visual identity expert:
A simple logo is easily recognizable. Simplicity aids quick mental grasp and easy digestion in the mind of a client or prospect. If a logo is overly complex, the recipient will not take the time to analyze it and will loose interest rather quickly. Think of a logo in an add at a street or highway. How long does a driver have to look at it going 50 miles an hour? Complexity will only hurt.
A good logo should stay in the memory of people. This is very entangled with the aspect of appropriateness. Will people be able to remember the logo as the one of a firm, company, or product? Or will they just not know what to make of it? The concept of a logo should be something that not only appeals, but is easily remembered.
Applicable and Versatile
The design of a logo should have in mind all the applications it will have. It should be able to be reproduced in different medias, such as print and display, and in different sizes. Some questions should be asked: Will it be effective both in color and in black and white? Can it be printed in something small such as a stamp? A car? A billboard? Will it still be effective in all mediums?
I don’t believe a logo should explicitly say what a company does. This would be, to my reasoning, pointless and a waste of time. But this does not mean that anything can be used in it. Just because you like pitbulls doesn’t mean it would be a good idea to put a picture of your dog in the logo. Just like a logo doesn’t need to say what a company does, it should also avoid things the company doesn’t do or are irrelevant.
Distinctive and Recognizable
Originality is something that I think is very difficult to achieve. By that I’m saying that a logo will not be original, but should be distinctive. Uniqueness is another word I disagree with. Something is always going to be similar to something, I always say. A distinctive logo is going to have something that differentiates the company or product from the majority of other competitors. This will help make it recognizable, so it won’t be confused with the rest.
Timeless and Enduring
A logo should stand the test of time. It should be based in good principles, not on trends. A dated log is good as "dead". Trends come and go but longevity is key in logo design.
Daniel studies brands, he designs identities and he looks for simplicity. With these he tries to achieve effectiveness in all of his work as a visual identity expert. If you enjoyed this article, you can find more of Daniel’s work over at his official site http://www.corexero.com/.
Effective Logos with Jerry Kuyper, Designer of the TouchStone Pictures and Cisco logos.
The fundamental qualities of an effective visual identity or logo haven’t changed for decades. They are generally:
- Legally available
A logo should align with the brand strategy and express the desired image attributes. It should work with the name to create a positive emotional response. A logo needs to have visual or conceptual energy to be engaging.
Functionally the logo must perform in these uses:
- from small to large
- in one or more colors
- on a white background and reversed out of a color
- in horizontal or vertical space
- as a still image and animated
- in print and digital applications
And most importantly it needs to resonate with the client. If all of the above criteria have been met and the client hasn’t embraced a direction, there is no effective logo.
To reach this elusive goal I practice the following:
- have a clear understanding of their business and brand strategy
- reach agreement on the specific criteria before beginning design
- conduct an exhaustive design exploration
- develop a clear rationale or story for each direction
- listen carefully to all comments and suggestions
- explore all suggestions
At the end of most projects I have a strong sense of partnership with my client, a sense that together we have created a logo that could not have been created without collaboration. What else is important to have a successful logo design?.
Practice, practice, practice – a follow up with Jerry
In 1986, I directed the revitalized design of the Panda for the World Wildlife Fund which can be seen in the above evolution of the WWF logo over time. As with all my projects, I spend a considerable amount of time promoting the importance of visual identity to prospects and clients.
I met my match when the former Executive and Artistic Director at Carnegie Hall told me:
“I want to hear beautiful music when I look at our new logo.”
It became clear he wasn’t expecting us to bring a boom box to the next meeting and I realized we needed to set more realistic expectations of what a logo could accomplish.
During our next meeting I responded:
"The new logo will never equal the historic grandeur or have the acoustical magic of Carnegie Hall. However, if you select a logo and use it effectively, it will come to symbolize Carnegie Hall over time."
Unfortunately he was replaced before he selected a logo.
Over the years, I have been told my countless brand strategists and business development folks that “it is more than just the logo”. Certainly that is true. However, take a close look the next time there is an announcement from a major company or organization on the news or in the paper. You probably won’t see the mission or vision statement. You probably won’t see their headquarters looming in the background. It is unlikely you will see them surrounded by their products. But in all likelihood you will see the logo, either as a multiple pattern or as a large unmistakable symbol of their company or organization.
Jerry Kuyper has thirty years of experience directing and designing brand identity programs. His passion is bringing business and brand strategy to life through creativity and design. Jerry has worked across most industries. His clients have included Cunard, Disney, DuPont, General Electric, Hawaiian Airlines, 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Rizzoli, Stanford University, WGBH Boston and the World Wildlife Fund. He has designed visual identities for companies including Aqua America, AT&T, Bates Worldwide, Cisco, Cushman & Wakefield, Genesis Eldercare, LodgeNet Interactive, 360° Communications, Singapore Technologies, Sprint, Times Mirror and Touchstone Films. To learn more about Jerry Kuyper partners you can visit his site at www.jerrykuyper.com/.
Keeping it simple – the five important aspects to logos that I always use, with David Airey
My good friend Lee Newham taught me about five important design elements when it comes to brand identities. Iconic logos are:
- Effective without colour
- Scalable i.e. work when just an inch in size
- Relevant to the industry in question
Any designer that bares these 5 in mind consistently should be able to create something special.
David Airey is a design author and brand identity designer. He has a passion for design and has made a living creating visual identities for companies of all sizes. His client-list includes the likes of Yellow Pages (Canada), Giacom (England), and Berthier Associates (Japan).David writes two popular graphic design blogs, logodesignlove.com and davidairey.com, attracting more than 250,000 online visitors per month and approximately 1 million monthly page views. He can be found over at his official site http://www.davidairey.com
Our final contribution for today comes from world-renowned graphic designer and brand identity expert, Milton Glaser. Milton has been an iconic figure in the logo design world for a number of years and you probably know him best for his work on the “I Love New York” logo (seen below).
Milton’s very busy with his studio these days, but he was kind of enough to pass on one important piece of advice for you guys. Can you guess what Milton’s tip was? Keep it ‘memorable’. Hopefully you’ll notice that there’s a trend among our professionals who are constantly creating powerful, memorable and successful logos and brand identities for their clients. A good combination of simplicity, memorability and applicability will help you to create lasting logo experiences that will impress both your clients and their customers. I hope that you found Part 1 of my new series helpful!.
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