WTH is a good logo? Show me!
There are a plenty of blogs out there that speak about the technical aspects of a logo so I chose to set apart speaking about its relevant content.
There are lots of ideas and magical stories about what makes a good logo and what doesn’t. One thing for sure, your brand isn’t your logo but your logo is part of your brand….. WTH??? The logo is part of your brand because it is the symbolic embodiment of all the values associated to your company, service or product. A good logo reflects a large part of your brand image, and even if your brand image won’t make you sell, it will certainly help you break into the market you want to conquer.
- A logo isn’t meant to be fine art.
- A logo is meant to be representative of who you are, what you do and why I should care (Unique Selling Proposition), not an open expression of the mind of Van Gogh or its author.
- A good logo is meant to cost more than lunch money.
As said earlier, a logo is the symbolic embodiment of YOUR brand, of who YOU are, of what YOU do and what differentiates YOU. Since the sole purpose of branding is to make you different amongst your competitors. Take caution in not designing something just for the sake of it. If you are a small business owner and you are on a mission for THE cheapest deal around, be mindful of a one thing; there’s a reason why a logo is meant to cost more than lunch money.
A good logo requires substantial effort: research, competitive analysis, creative brainstorming, sketches, and finalization based on the client’s and their customers’ feedback. With a $49 budget, however, it’s likely the designer will produce something generic, and even resort to non-proprietary clip art that could easily appear in other logos.
Even if Carolyn Davidson in 1971charged only $35 to design the famous Nike swoosh, it is important to acknowledge that she was a student and her hourly rate was $2 (meaning that it took her 17 hours to design something as simple as a Swoosh). The Swoosh as simple as it looks is very meaningful. It represents the wing in the famous statue of the Greek Goddess of victory, Nike and has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world today. Thanks to Carolyn’s research and sketching time.
Someone with a $49 budget shouldn’t expect more than one hour from a professional design service, or will resort to a foreign service that unfortunately will know very little about the audience and the business. Yes, you might be on a tight budget, as most people starting a business are, but your image and brand should not be a place to cut corners and you should use somebody local with a solid portfolio that ideally can physically go onsite to get a feel for your business. Don’t jump too high when you see the price, as you pay for what you get. Remember that there’s a reason why Brad Pitt costs more than Chuck Norris (No offense to anyone).
Elements of a logo:
I will not spend too much time in detailing every element of a logo, just know that all four main components are equally important and all play a crucial role in making the logo successful in being; A. Representative of the company, service or product, B. Appealing to the right audience and C. Being esthetically pleasing.
The Signature: The font style, size and kerning express specific values and characteristics we want to attribute to the logo.
The Icon/Avatar: The icon or avatar is meant to give the audience an extra clue of what the company does and what it stands for. Let’s pretend that all the sudden a petroleum company wishes to win over environmentally aware consumers and starts to invest in renewable energy. To show the company’s commitment to the environment and solar power, they decide to green their brand image (which is a great idea). They have a gross budget of $200 million to spend so they go to Ogilvy & Mather, one of the most prestigious branding guys around. The creative team develops some kind of organic shape that clearly represents the company’s new purpose and activities by a mixing a flower and a sun with tones white, yellow and green.
The sub-liner: The sub-liner is meant to give little more information about the company’s activities such in the case of Apple. Even if the word Apple is very rich in analogies for Steve Jobs invention; tribute to Sir Isaac Newton, symbol of the forbidden knowledge in Christian theology (BTW, did you know that the Apple 1 sold for only $666… something to sip on), the name doesn’t give away a single clue of what the company is about. To overcome this hurtle, they attached the word “Computers” to the name (as a sub-liner) that ties everything together.
The tagline: The tag line is usually the starting point of the creative campaign. It is meant to highlight the main benefit that differentiates the company from the rest of the world. If we use the example of that illusive petroleum company again, Ogilvy & Mather’s writers might come up with something around the lines of “Beyond Petroleum” as a tagline (for those who didn’t get it yet, I was referring to BP petroleum).
A real life case of study:
Recently, I took over the creation of a logo for a newly formed company named Mistra. Mistra is a direct marketing company that uses a new technology called “Purl”. Purl can create personalized mail and email campaigns for each and every client stored in a company’s database. The software analyzes the company’s database and finds a path from its clients buying habits.
Our client already picked the name Mistra. Mistra is a pretty name but is also a serious hurtle in effectively communicating what the company is all about, since (as for Apple), it doesn’t link to anything related to the nature of their business (as opposed to Microsoft which is a built up name mixing the words microcomputers and software). In such a cases, the challenge resides in creating a strong storyline behind the name and its visual representation that will justify its use.
The creative equation:
Besides being a pretty word, Mistra is everything but meaningless. It is also a Greek fortified city founded in 1249 to protect Sparta during the crusades. The name then hides a possible creative direction, through its medieval heritage. The middle age has a rich iconography that offers us a vast playground with his kings, knights, castles etc.
Since medieval age is filled with heroic battles, we can easily find a common ground between marketing and middle age with the word “strategy” (as in “military strategy” and “marketing strategy”). Using chess as a theme, could effectively express the medieval roots of the name and the strategy.
Because of the noble nature of the theme, a font featuring serifs would probably best reinforce all the above.
As a sub-liner, to give an extra clue to the audience about the company’s activities and what makes them unique, I went with; “Analytic Data-Marketing” since analytic is what truly sets them apart from the rest of data-marketers.
For the tagline, as being starting point for the creative campaign and highlight the company’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition), I went with “Play Smarter”. It ties very well with the logo’s theme and highlights the main benefit of their product; make a smarter use of your data-base.
By keeping a strong emphasis on high relevance for each and every one of its aspects, as simple as is it, the result is effective and will serve the company’s purpose for the 5 to 10 upcoming years.