When starting up in business there are many different things to consider, a logo being one of them. So why do you need a logo?
In order to realise the importance of having a logo it’s essential that you know what a logo actually is. It also helps to look at what the purpose of a logo is for your business and what components make up a logo design. It’s not uncommon to confuse the word logo with brand and so learning about what these words mean will inevitably help when it comes to writing a logo design brief and creating a brand. Once you’ve realised the importance of having a logo design for your business or organisation you need to ensure that the design is a success and will work. So looking at what makes a great logo design will help the design process from start to finish.
What is a logo?
A logo is a combination of text, imagery and/or shapes which represent a business, with the aim of conveying what that business is about. Logos are everywhere and have become embedded within our culture. Without necessarily realising it, logos and brands affect many of our choices and influence a lot of decisions we make when it comes to purchasing a product or service. Understanding what a logo is and why every business needs one is a great starting point when it comes to creating your own logo and brand identity. To see the value of a logo will enhance and drive you to design a professional and successful logo for your own business.
What is the purpose of a logo?
A logo will often be the first point of contact and impression of a business or company. It has been said that you have 7 seconds to make that first impression when meeting someone and so ensuring your logo makes that positive impact from the start is obviously important.
Your logo will be your unique collection of words, shapes, imagery etc which will identify you to potential clients and customers. Making sure your logo reflects your ethos and what you do is crucial. You want your logo to say much more to people in order for people to remember your business and what your business is about. It needs to be a positively memorable symbol so that in that split second of someone seeing your logo they automatically think of your business. It therefore needs to distinguish you from your competitors and help your business stand out amongst the rest.
What’s the difference between a logo and a brand?
It’s easy to get confused between a logo and a brand. Your logo will ultimately become the cornerstone of your brand identity. It’s not uncommon for people to think that a logo is the brand and vice versa but they are two very different things. Both need to work cohesively together but both have very different functions.
A brand is how people will perceive and interact with your business. It’s basically what they’ll think of your business. Therefore your brand identity will be a collection of elements brought together to create your branding or brand image. Its more about what people will tell others about your business or organisation rather than what you tell them. You might have the most stylish and successful logo design but would someone recognise your website or printed promotional material if your logo was covered up?
Your branding is a much larger picture than just your logo. It’s really the shaping of how people will see your business. It covers all aspects of your advertising including typography, colours, style and of course your logo.
Therefore your logo is just one element of your overall brand identity.
The components of a logo
Symbols and shapes are not always part of a logo but more often than not some kind of graphic works alongside the text within a logo. The graphic element may comprise of lines, swirl, circles etc to form an abstract shape. Careful thought should be taken when creating an abstract graphic to ensure that the shapes used help reflect the brand identity. For example, circles can help represent community, protection and unity whilst rectangles can feel more formal and ordered. Another alternative approach is for something to be more obvious either linking to the name of the business or what the business does or sells. This element of the logo may start off being more complex and as the brand becomes more well known the graphic can be simplified.
The graphic can sometimes be used on its own without the type. For example the Favicon of a website which is the small icon within the browser’s tab can often just be the graphic part of the businesses logo.
The typeface or font you decide to use within your logo will have a big impact on the overall look and feel of the design. You may choose to use more than one font within your logo but to use more than two is unusual but not necessarily wrong if the design requires more.
Fonts tend to fall into categories such as these:
Serif – Accents or embellishments at the end of letters. These fonts can feel reliable, traditional, trustworthy and honest.
Sans serif – These fonts don’t have any accents at the end of the letters. These can feel clean, stable and contemporary.
Script – Calligraphy style fonts which can feel elegant, creative and romantic.
Display – These are larger more bold fonts for standing out. These can be used if you want to come across as friendly, charismatic and can give a feeling of fun and humour.
Handwritten – These are fonts which imitate handwriting. Depending on the style of handwriting these can give a feeling of freedom, organic and creativity.
Selecting which font to use will depend on the brand of the business. Fonts should be selected to reflect the brand and help reflect the brand message.
The colour choice for your logo needs to reflect your brand and what it stands for. Selecting a colour just because you like it, is not a reason to go with that colour. Colours evoke different feelings and thoughts. You should think about what your brand stands for and what you would like potential customers or clients to think of when they see your logo. Here are some colours and words associated with them
Blue – Trust, loyal, confidence, fresh, sky, water, thinking
Red – Danger, passion, power, love, warmth, energy, aggression
Black – Serious, formal, death, straightforward, sophisticated
It is worth noting that colours can have different associations in different cultures. For example, in China, red is associated with luck, and white is associated with death. So you should also consider the cultural context of your market when deciding on a colour scheme.
All three of these parts to a logo should work together to help form a great design. They should represent your brand’s identity and ethos and help you stand out from your competitors.
So what’s the difference between a logo and a symbol?
Many people will often refer to an emblem or symbol associated with a brand as a logo. But strictly this is not in fact accurate. The word logo is short for ‘logotype’ which in Greek means ‘word imprint’. Therefore a logo should contain lettering representing the business or organisation and if a logo is just a simple graphic or symbol then strictly this should not be called a logo. This means that an emblem or symbol that can’t be read is not a logo (or logotype) but could be classed as a logomark, which in short is not a logo!
What makes a good logo design?
The starting point for designing a great logo is in knowing how to write a logo design brief. There are many things that you need to take into account before diving into creating your logo. More details about how to write a logo design brief can be found here.
Once you’ve compiled a logo brief the design process needs to result in a final logo design which ticks all these boxes.
Enticing to the right audience:
Your logo needs to attract the eye of the viewer but also ensure that it’s grabbing the attention of your target market. For example if your main target market is going to be males in their 20’s, using the colour pink which is generally associated with women is not going to work!
Some would argue that including the obvious graphics within a logo is not the right road to go down. For example having a graphic of a tyre within a logo for a tyre repair company would be an obvious route to go down during the design process. This predictable approach does however have the advantage of ensuring your logo is reflecting what you do and your target market is going to know that right from the start. If an obvious graphic is used within a logo then the uniqueness can be expressed in a different way such as a stylised font or colours that are different to your competitors. You need to grab the attention of potential clients and customers but not confuse them by being so unique that your logo doesn’t make sense to them!
Your logo needs to stand the test of time and whilst logos can evolve the design should not be ruled by current trends and fashions. There are always popular techniques and design styles each year within graphic design but incorporating these styles just because they are in vogue will mean your logo could look old fashioned and dated a few years down the line. That’s not to say don’t use current popular design trends if they are relevant and fit with your businesses ethos and branding. For example if you sell 1960’s memorabilia then using a classic 1960’s font and colour scheme will let potential customers know what your business is about, as the fonts and colours are relevant to what you are selling.
You want your logo to be memorable and so creating a simple clear logo will help people remember the design. It needs to get the message across in a concise and affective design. It’s important to remember that your logo is just one aspect of your brand. You can use more intricate and detailed graphics for other aspects of your branding which can work alongside your logo.
Consistency through the design will create more of an impact. Knowing the psychology of colours, shapes and fonts will help you combine the right elements to reflect your businesses ethos and what you do. They need to work together and not conflict and confuse.
It’s important to consider how and where your logo might be used. It needs to work on a small and large scale as it might be viewed on a mobile phone or perhaps on a billboard. Always check that the design has the same impact and works at whatever scale it might be used at.
Also remember that you logo might be seen in black and white. Even if you don’t have a black and white version, your colour version could be printed in black and white by a potential client and so therefore it needs to still be readable and clear.
A logo should not be overlooked when starting up a business or organisation. It’s an important factor of a brand’s identity and having a clear positive brand is essential when it comes to marketing and promoting your business. The investment made into ensuring you have a quality logo will have a ripple effect on your businesses success. Whilst logos don’t in themselves build successful businesses, a successful business will nearly always have a quality logo!
am:pm graphics is a graphic design partnership based in Buxton, Derbyshire. We offer a range of quality, affordable graphic design solutions for print and web, helping our customers achieve a consistent professional identity across a variety of media.