Logos are everywhere.
I look around me now, and I can easily count up at least 10 without much effort… they are scattered around us everywhere we go, are embedded in our culture and way of life. They influence our decisions, communicate and represent a company's values, and are often full of meaning…
If you’re reading this 12 part logo design blog series, I know you want to learn how to design a logo… but before we jump right in you need to firstly understand what the purpose of a logo is, and why they matter.
It’s important to understand this so you learn not only how to design a logo, but how to create a really strong identity that will help a business succeed. Knowing this information will also help you to sell the value of your design services to potential customers.
So let’s dive in, and firstly answer the question; what is the purpose of a logo?
What’s the purpose of a logo?
The primary purpose of a logo is to identify.
I can’t stress this enough… and I need you to always remember this… the primary role of a logo is to identify. That’s it. This is the main thing that really matters with logo design and the one thing I hope you will take away from this blog.
Trends come and go, design tools and techniques will evolve, what we perceive a logo to be may even drastically change with time, but for all eternity the single goal of a logo will always remain this - to identify the person, product, business or service you’re designing it for.
This means, as the designer, before working on any ideas you need to fully understand the environment in which the logo will be seen. Who are its competitors and how do they look? What colours and symbols are already owned by established competition? How can we differentiate the logo so the business stands out from the crowd?
Logo design is not art - too many people mistake them for art since logos are a visual object. Our role as designers is not to design a thing of beauty, but instead to design a strategic business tool that will allow a business to be identified in the vast world we live in. Of course, it can still look good, but that should be a secondary factor when designing a logo.
Designers often aim to fill a logo full of meaning from the outset, however, this isn’t needed - the focus should be on identification. A new logo is an empty vessel, and from day one it has no meaning to onlookers, even if it was added intentionally. With time meaning will be added through ongoing marketing, and the interactions customers have with the company's brand. To really understand what I mean by this, take a look at the tick and apple illustrations below, and try not to imagine more than just well-designed icons… it’s impossible.
Ok, so now we got that out the way, let’s look at why logos matter…
Why do logos matter to the world?
They are the face of a business, product or service
When you picture a business in your mind, you often immediately picture the logo, be it the golden arches of a famous fast food company, or the apple with the bite out of it representing one of my favourite technology brands.
Likewise, when you see a logo you’re familiar with, as you did with the Nike and Apple logos above, you’ll immediately associate it with your memories, experiences, and interactions with the brand.
Establish Instant Brand Recognition
A well-designed logo will be memorable, helping customers to remember the brand.
Shapes and colours are easier for the human brain to process and memorise than words are. This means that if the identity is unique in the marketplace it’s easy to find and identify the company once again to purchase its services, and to recommend to friends.
Logo design influence our decisions
From our very first day we build up a visual library in our mind and begin to associate fonts, shapes and colours with specific emotions and objects.
By simply looking at a logo, like it or not we will immediately make judgements, and perceive a business, product or service in a certain way.
If we think a company looks too expensive, too corporate, too fun, or too radical we will avoid it. Likewise, if the logo looks like the type of company, products or service we’re looking for, and wish to be associated with, we will actively engage with the company and buy its products and services.
This is why it’s essential the logo correctly represents the business, as you want to attract the right audience.
The logo forms expectations of the company, and if it fails to meet those, or if the business attracts the wrong people things will start to go down hill - wasted time and money serving people that won’t become customers, and potentially even bad reviews from disappointed customers...
Good first impression
With so many businesses in the world, a company has one chance to impress and attract. If the design fails to impress onlookers in today’s internet driven world it’s very easy to go elsewhere.
Some business owners go down the DIY route, or use low-cost amateur designers, not understand how damaging poor design can be for them when first impressions matter so much. I love the saying ‘there’s nothing more expensive than cheap design’ - it sums up the losses the company is causing by accepting the cheapest and quickest route.
Communicate brand values & additional meaning
Although a logos primary purpose is to identity, they can also be leveraged to communicate important brand messages and values.
As an example, the logo design for Amazon, the popular retail eCommerce shopping company, has a smile beneath its name communicating the happiness of receiving something you’ve really wanted. This positivity is enhanced by the vibrant orange colour, a colour which I personally associate with warmth, fun and the sunshine. Beyond the obvious, the smile is also an arrow, connecting the A to Z, showing that they offer a wide range of products - very clever!
As an another example, the logo for delivery company FedEx, whilst looking immediately corporate and professional, has an arrow cleverly hidden within the white space of the E and X to symbolise speed and precision.
So now you know why logos matter… next month we’ll look at the tools you’ll need to get prepared to start designing logos. In the meantime, why not connect with me on twitter or facebook to keep up with the latest logo design news, tips and advice.