A logo is the visual representation of your brand. A logo needs to be:
- a visual communication of the brand
- properly applied, and
- designed for multi-use
Sure, a logo oughta be attractive. But it also oughta be more than just good looking. You can purchase a pretty icon at the “logo factory” for 50 bucks. And, if you’re as clever as a snake oil salesman, you can probably back it into a rationale. But do you really want to do that to your brand?
Your logo is a visual communication of the values of your brand. Your logo needs to reflect what is unique about your brand. I don’t think you can get that from a “logo factory” product.
And, while I love a beautiful logo, you’ve no doubt heard me say that it matters less what it looks like and more how it is applied: Is it on the website, is it on the stationery, is it on the trucks and the memos and the print adverts? A consistently excellent version must be applied everywhere, never squished, stretched or crowded (assisting with excellent execution is why we supply a brief usage guide).
Pragmatically, a logo needs to be designed so that it maintains its integrity in any usage. It needs to be able to be rendered in black & white and it needs to look equally good on your business card, your web site or on a billboard.
There can be several components to a single logo and not every corporate ID uses them all.
Some logos are wordmarks. That is, the name of the organization is rendered is a particular, often customized, font in a particular colour(s). Other logos will have this plus an icon – or sometimes even a marriage of the two, with the icon integral to the logotype (think of the “golden arches” making the M of McDonald’s).
We created a simple wordmark for the Walking Village initiative without icon or tagline.
Tagline? Some logos employ a tagline that can speak to how an organization does, or why an organization does or even what an organization does. Some branders are strongly in favour of using taglines. I think it depends on the organization. For example, when Silex, an Ontario manufacturer of industrial mufflers, added new products and reached out to new markets – they wanted their brand to reflect that. We kept the name in its distinctive wordmark and added a tagline to deliver the rebrand.
Taglines are frequently not full sentences; spell checker would flag most as “fragments.” In other instances, they are created as a three-beat.” For example, in creating the logo below, we needed to work with the existing organization name. A small challenge as the name didn’t really identify what the organization does (it could be a support group or a charity). So, here again a tagline is helpful to the brand by defining the organization’s operations.
As for icons, Jon Gillette, my colleague and a Registered Graphic Designer, tells me that logos evolved from a time when not everyone was literate and shopkeepers used icon-like visuals on their shop signs. The three balls of the pawn shop, is an example that endures today.
I consider the Diabetes red dot to be almost an icon – though it certainly won’t stand alone as the golden arches can – it does carry more communication that simply a decorative contrast. Anyone with diabetes recognizes the single red dot of blood used for testing.
We do frequently produce logos with visual similarities for a range of corporate products or services – each one echoing the corporate mother brand. (sort of like logo clusters). Here are two sister logos for a community hospital and its foundation.
After all, the foundation is strongly associated with “asking for money.” And we wanted to ensure that the hospital’s vital work of saving lives and delivering babies, is also associated with the foundation’s ask; the visual familiarity reinforces that association.
In some cases, a client is mostly happy with their logo – it may have good recognition – but it’s a bit old fashioned or hard to use. In these cases, we can do a logo renovation. This cleans up the artwork, standardize the uses, and can even refresh the colours. For example, with this MHA logo we revisited the blue/green combo and further amped up the colours up with a third “accent” (which carries the tagline). The result is a refreshed look without anyone wondering if this is still the same organization.