Logos and Corporate Identities - It’s Not What’cha Got. It’s How You Use It.
Logos. Love’em. Hate’em. It really is that simple…and complex.
What do we mean? The process of capturing the essence of a brand within a symbol or a logotype is fun and rewarding. Love it. No doubt about it.
What can make the process not fun is that of all the kinds of work agencies perform, nothing is as personal to the client as a logo.
No other type of job seems to invite the anxiety, second-guessing and overall involvement of the client, the client’s friends and extended family members as the logo.
That makes designing a brand identity for someone else’s company kind of like being asked to name someone else’s kids. You can apply as much logic and insight as you want, but, at the end of the day, if you say the name should be John, and the client likes Bill, the name is going to be Bill.
How To Be A Good Logo Client.
Want to be a good client? Go into your next brand identity job knowing that this process is very similar to picking out furniture or clothes or any other decision that will ultimately be based on what appeals to you.
Admit it; get comfortable with it. It’s okay if you hate green. You don’t even need a reason other than it’s your logo and you’re paying the bill. But let it be known early that green is a deal killer. Your design team will ultimately love you for it.
Remember, there are only about five objective criteria for logos. (We’ve posted the list at the end). After that it’s totally a question of what you like. So spend some time thinking about it. A smart design group will help get your likes and dislikes out on the table. They’ll ask you about colors and help you articulate whether you like neat, clean, strong, classic, contemporary, or whatever the case may be.
Things NOT To Do As A Client.
- Never start the process with “I don’t know what I like, but I’ll know it when I see it.” This is a lazy approach that will also prove costly and frustrating. A good preliminary meeting where the right questions are asked will help you know what you like.
- Don’t turn the job into “design by committee.” The brand identity development process is so subjective that it will be impossible to please everyone. Someone has to own a guiding vision.
- Don’t seek universal approval. Again, you can’t please everyone.
- Don’t over-think the design.
Remember, a logo is like a muscle: Its strength will ultimately come from its use, not its design. So, while you are on your quest for the best mark possible, make sure you spend just as much time putting together a practical, enforceable graphics standard program.
Here’s a reality check: What your logo looks like almost doesn’t matter.
No, we’re not advocating ugly logos put together by a brother-in-law and some clip art. We’re just talking about the importance of commitment to your logo.
We have all heard the story of the creation of the Nike mark, perhaps the most famous corporate symbol of all time.
Produced by a graphic arts student at Portland State University, the logo was underwhelming to Nike Founder Phil Knight when he first saw it. But he had a deadline to meet, so he paid $35 and put it to work. And it was the way he put the logo to work that transformed a mediocre symbol into a graphic so powerful we gave it its own name: the Swoosh.
Need another example?
How about the Subway Restaurants logo? It’s not bad…but it ain’t winning any design awards. Once again, it was created on a shoestring budget decades ago. And although it has had some updating over the years, it is still very much the same logo as the original. And that’s its strength; it’s remained the same and we see it everywhere we go. Use is everything.
5 Things Every Logo Should Have
By the way, here are the objective criteria for a logo, presented in no particular order:
- Readability: It’s got to hold up and present itself well to the viewer in every situation.
- Flexibility: Sometimes you use your logo horizontally, sometimes stacked; either way it’s got to maintain its design strength and integrity.
- Scalability: It’s got to work big (signage), and small (business cards and even smaller).
- Reproduceability (Yes, we know it’s not a word): Your logo has got to work in color. It’s got to work in black and white. It’s got to be simple enough that even bad printers can handle it. It has to work on a t-shirt. It has to hold up for embroidery work. It has to work in the digital world.
- Feasibility: It has to be simple enough to use properly that others throughout your company can easily adhere to standards.