Reference Library: Logo
A 'logotype' (from the Greek λογότυπο), commonly known as a 'logo', is the graphic element, symbol, and icon of a trademark or brand, which is set in a special typeface or arranged in a particular way. The shapes, colors, fonts and images usually different from others in a similar market.
A logo is an iconic symbol designed to represent a company, product or service. It also depicts an organization's personality.
In recent times the term 'logo' has been used to describe signs, emblems, coats of arms, symbols and even flags. In this article several examples of 'true' logotypes are displayed, which may generally be contrasted with emblems, or marks which include non-textual graphics of some kind. Emblems with non-textual content are distinct from true logotypes.
The uniqueness of a logotype is of utmost importance to avoid confusion in the marketplace among clients, suppliers, users, affiliates, and the general public. To the extent that a logotype achieves this objective, it may function as a trademark, and may be used to uniquely identify businesses, organizations, events, products or services. Once a logotype is designed, one of the most effective means for protecting it is through registration as a trademark, so that no unauthorised third parties can use it, or interfere with the owner's use of it. If rights in relation to a logotype are correctly established and enforced, it can become a valuable intellectual property asset.
A common misconception holds that a logotype is merely a graphic symbol or sign. This is, however, not the way it is defined by graphic designers and by advertising professionals. A logotype consists of either a name or a name and a sign. The image at right shows an example of the two elements of a logotype.
While large corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to update and implement their logos, many small businesses will turn to local graphic designers to do a corporate logo.
Sometimes a slogan is included in the logotype. If the slogan appears always in the logotype, and in the same graphic shape, it can be considered as part of the logotype. In this case it is a brand slogan also called a claim, a tagline or an endline in the advertising industry. The main purpose of it is to support the identity of the brand together with the logotype. The difference between a slogan and a brand slogan is that brand slogan remains the same for a long time to build up the brands image while different slogans link to each product or advertising campaign.
* U.S. Army: An Army of One.
* Ryanair: The low fares airline.
* iPod nano: 1,000 songs. Impossibly small.
* Amazon.com: And you're done.
* Nokia: Connecting people.
The origin of logotypes goes back to the 19th century, when industrial manufacture of products became important. The new industrial procedures allowed a much higher output than that of the former handmade products. The new products were distributed in large geographical areas, even nationwide. New competitors appeared from time to time, and the offer of products of a same kind increased notably. At that time, a significant part of the population was still illiterate. The industrial leaders became soon aware that the public would not easily differentiate their product from the same product of their competitors. More and more manufacturers began therefore to include a symbol, sign, or emblem on their products, labels and packages, so that all the buyers could easily recognize the product they wanted.
The manufacturers later began to add the name of the company or of the product to their sign. The name being shaped often in a specific way by each manufacturer, these combined logotypes, which for the first time included sign and name, became extremely popular. During many decades, when a new logo was being designed, owners, advertising professionals, and graphic designers always attempted to create a sign or emblem which, together with the name of the company, product, or service, would appear as a logotype.
Today there are so many corporations, products, services, agencies and other entities using a sign or emblem as logotype that many have realized that only a few of the thousands of signs people are faced with are recognized without a name. The consequence is the notion that it makes less sense to use a sign as a logotype, even together with the name, if people will not duly identify it. Therefore, the trend in the recent years has been to use both logos and names, and to emphasize the design of the name instead of the logotype, making it unique by its letters, color, and additional graphic elements. Examples of well-designed logos and logotypes are available in competitive design [http://www.summitawards.com annuals].
Emblems will sometimes grow in popularity, especially across areas with differing alphabets; for instance, a name in the Arabic language would be of little help in most European markets. A sign or emblem would keep the general proprietary nature of the product in both markets. In non-profit areas, the Red Cross is an example of an extremely well known emblem which does not need a name to go with, though in Muslim countries it is the Red Crescent.
Logo design is commonly believed to be one of the most important areas in graphic design, thus making it the most difficult to perfect. The logo, or brand, is not just an image, it is the embodiment of an organization. Because logos are meant to represent companies and foster recognition by consumers it is counterproductive to redesign logos often.
A good logo:
* is unique, and not subject to confusion with other logos among customers
* is functional and can be used in many different contexts while retaining its integrity
** should remain effective reproduced small or large
** can work in "full-color", but also in two color presentation (black and white), spot color, or halftone.
** may be able to maintain its integrity printed on various fabrics or materials (where the shape of the product may distort the logo)
* abides by basic design principles of space, color, form, consistency, and clarity
* represents the brand/company appropriately
Color is important to the brand recognition, but should not be an integral component to the logo design, which would conflict with its functionality. Some colors are associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey (e.g. 'loud' colors, such as red, that are meant to attract the attention of drivers on freeways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. In the United States red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with health foods.)
For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate dependability, quality, relaxation, etc.
Color is also useful for linking certain types of products with a brand. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) are linked to hot food and thus can be seen integrated into many fast food logos. Conversely, cool colors (blue, purple) are associated with lightness and weightlessness, thus many diet products have a light blue integrated into the logo.
When designing (or commissioning) a logo, practices to encourage are to
* use few colors, or try to limit colors to spot colors (a term used in the printing industry)
* avoid gradients (colors that transition from dark to light/light to dark) as a distinguishing feature
* produce alternatives for different contexts
* design using vector graphics, so the logo can be resized without loss of fidelity
* be aware of design or trademark infringements
* include guidelines on the position on a page and white space around the logo for consistent application across a variety of media (a.k.a. brand standard manual)
* do not use a specific choice of third-party font or clip-art as a distinguishing feature
* do not use the face of a (living) person
* avoid photography or complex imagery as it reduces the instant recognition a logo demands
* avoid culturally sensitive imagery, such as religious icons or national flags, unless the brand is committed to being associated with any and all connotations such imagery may evoke
Why are logos important?
The idea is to create strong brand recognition. You want people to think of your service or product before they start opening the yellow pages looking for someone else. If you walk by McDonalds you don't expect to find a hammer and nails. Even if your logo does not say "hamburger", people still know what the company sells. Advertising is meant to attract more customers, to win their trust and build stronger brand recognition.
There are essentially three kinds of logos:
* Combination (icon plus text)
* Logotype/Wordmark/Lettermark (text or abbreviated text)
* Icon (symbol / brandmark)
The following table shows the names of six well-known companies in the same typeface in all cases. In these examples, recognizing the companies entails reading the name.