by Josh Miles
Welcome to the fourth installment of the Bold Brand Challenge.
So far, we’ve discussed how to nail your positioning and find your brand voice. Today we’re talking about the cornerstone of your visual brand identity: logo design.
Have you ever thought about why you like some logos more than others?
Designing a logo may seem like a simple enough task, but it often takes years of training, practice, and real-world experience to hone the design skills to create a great logo.
Many companies fall into the trap of designing logos that are more literal—a pencil logo for a writer, or a wrench logo for a plumber.
So if logos don’t need to literally describe my product or service, what should they do?
While it may seem counterintuitive, great logos are seldom a visual reflection of exactly what you do. Oftentimes, the more you take away, the better your logo will become. The trick is to know just how much (or how little) a logo needs to be distinctive and memorable.
A skilled designer will be able to communicate that your company is strong, reliable, innovative, or aggressive by their use of design elements and typography.
Logos don’t need to literally show what you do. Great logos embody your brand values, attitude, and culture.Click to tweet
What kind of logo design approach might work best for my company?
From a design perspective, logos can be categorized as follows:
Logotypes, or “fanciful” marks, are stylized type alone. Think of FedEx, Big Ten, and Google. Often the most successful logotypes use custom-drawn letterforms, or a typeface that has been somewhat customized for the mark. This prevents other firms from being able to easily duplicate the mark. Logotypes often work best in horizontal formats.
Badge marks are self-contained marks that are flexible on dark or light fields. They can overlay a photograph and still be readable. Many auto manufacturers have badge marks. Think Harley Davidson, Ford, BMW, and Lamborghini. These marks are often circle- or square-shaped, giving them great prominence on a car hood or television commercial.
Mark and Type Combo
This is one of the most common styles of logo design. A mark and type logo offers flexibility and can be rearranged in a horizontal or vertical stack. Examples include Target, NBC, and Delta Airlines.
Very few brands can stand alone as just a mark. It takes years of exposure and millions of dollars in advertising. These are truly iconic brands like Nike and Apple. Occasionally these marks are used as mark and type combinations, but you’re most likely to see them used as mark only.
Do I always have to use my logo the same way?
Consistent usage of your trademark is paramount. As you can imagine, a logo that is being used inconsistently is much more difficult to protect and enforce. Even the shape-shifting identity systems used by Nickelodeon, AOL, and Fossil maintain consistent elements throughout. While these brands are in a constant state of flux, they remain easily recognizable and reflect brand consistency. Or as I like to say, they’re consistently inconsistent.
What type of logo would work best for my business?
Some companies need their logo or mark to work really well in very large applications, like signs or billboards, and others need their logos to reproduce best in digital or very small instances. What is most important to your company?
What should I know before I hire a logo designer?
Before you hire a design firm to help create a killer new logo, it’s a good idea to consider what you think will work best for you. Here are a few tips to give you a more clear picture of success:
Let’s do this!
See you next month. And remember to share your questions, challenges, and successes via your favorite social network below.
(Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in Bold Brand by Josh Miles, ©2012 Content Marketing Institute – available on Kindle or paperback)
Josh Miles is a caffeine and Twitter addict, and the principal and founder of Miles Design. He was honored as one of Indianapolis Business Journal's 2013 40 Under 40. Josh is also the author of Bold Brand: The New Rules for Differentiating, Branding, and Marketing Your Professional Services Firm. His expertise is highly sought after by professional services firms from coast to coast.