Some people feel that logos are overrated or, at the very least, misunderstood. A logo, essentially, represents the face of a company. It’s a graphical representation of the company
Types of Logos
There are three large categories of logos. The wordmark is a design incorporating only text, the pictorial logo consists of a recognizable image or icon, and the abstract iconography logo incorporates some form of abstract symbol.
The Wordmark Logo
The wordmark is the easiest type of logo to design and is also the most familiar for most people. They can be clean, crisp and modern, like the FedEx or Google logos that use a relatively simple font with various colors. Despite the simplicity, though, they are definitely recognizable logos and not just because the logos are the company names.
Wordmarks can also be a little more traditionalist. They can seem to be based on an older, shared heritage, like the Coca-Cola logo, which is recognizable across the world. At one point, Coca-Cola tried to update their logo, giving it a more modern look, but had to revert to their original logo because it was not received well by consumers. Disney is another example of this type of logo.
The Pictorial Logo
The pictorial logo generally consists of a picture that is meant to reflect the name of the company in some way. It can be either direct like the Target logo, which features a series of red circles mimicking a target, or indirect, like the Lacoste logo. The latter is a crocodile and though it might seem to have nothing to do with the company name, it was actually chosen because Rene Lacoste, the company’s founder, was nicknamed the crocodile.
The Abstract Iconography Logo
These types of logos incorporate abstract symbols or images and are often considered to be the holy grail of logos. Everyone loves them because their effects are almost like magic. And everyone wants a logo like the abstract Nike swoosh. What few people realize is that it isn’t just the design that’s important.
The Nike swoosh was first created by a design student – Carolyn – and was definitely not an overnight success. In fact, Nike’s founders didn’t like it at all but they decided to go with it anyway, likely because they had no other options.
They started putting it on the sides of shoes and because the shoes were good and Nike’s marketing team was made up of geniuses, it wasn’t long before everyone was associating the swoosh with top quality athletic gear. But Nike didn’t stop there. They kept doing their thing until the name of the company and the swoosh became synonymous with athletic achievement itself.
In other words, the simplest mark can become something big if it’s done right. The same thing applies to religious symbols. The marks themselves have no inherent power. Their power is derived from what people associate them with, such as the Cross being associated with Christianity, the Crescent and the Star being associated with Islam, and the Star of David being associated with Judaism.
The Logo System
The logo system is another type of logo that takes elements from each of the previous three types. It represents a graphical framework that can have endless permutations. One of the first highly popular representations of a logo system is the MTV logo. Another great example is Google’s daily doodles. They accompany a familiar mark but are used to bring to light various ideas and issues.
What Really Makes a Great Logo?
Google’s daily changing doodles are so interesting because they show how technological change has had an impact on logos. Once upon a time, logos were immutable. Once you created and adopted one, you were stuck with it for eternity. Companies would put them on everything — almost as if they were the military. Ashtrays, retail facilities, business cards, airplanes, equipment and everything else you could imagine was inscribed with the company logo. And it was unchangeable.
Nowadays, though, all that doesn’t matter. Nothing is as important or ubiquitous as your email signature, your Twitter avatar, or your favicon. And they can be changed whenever you feel like it.
In other words, companies can now use their logos as they should be used, namely to show what their priorities are and connect with their market by focusing on issues that are important to their target audience.
Michael Bierut, the designer of Hilary Clinton’s logo, calls logos empty vessels that can be filled with meaning. Hilary Clinton’s logo was designed with this in mind. The H and the arrow provided a framework that was then used to reflect the electorate and the various issues they were facing. The H and the arrow were constant but were “filled” with relevant images, symbols or iconography, depending on the target audience.
How to Design a Logo for Your Business
An increasing number of companies are using logo systems because they can get a bigger message across than just their company name. And that’s what it’s really all about. Connecting with your audience.
So, designing a logo for your business is not just a matter of picking the right font and picture. It should be about sending a message to your audience. It should be about showing what your values are, what your priorities are and about connecting with your audience. And it’s about creating a logo that lasts.
As Bierut explains, it’s not about judging a diving competition but about being in a swimming competition. It’s not about the splash made when entering the water but about how long one can keep their head above that water. You want your logo to connect with your audience and live in their minds forever. You don’t need it to win points in a debate.
Take Nike’s logo. It has survived the test of time like none other. The company has created invaluable association’s in our minds with that very simple swoosh. They’ve given their logo meaning in our minds. And that is precisely what you should want your logo to achieve, which isn’t easy. Just remember that it’s not only about the design but also about creating the right associations in your audience’s minds.
Interestingly enough, 12 years after the Nike logo went into use, the company returned to Carolyn — the graphic designer — and gave her a ring with the Nike trademark on it as well as an undisclosed amount of Nike stock. In 1973, when she first created the logo, she received only $35 for her freelance logo design work.
Online logo design
It used to be that you have to hire a graphic designer if you need a custom logo created. But with today’s Internet, getting a business logo design online is very easy and efficient. There are 3 main types of online logo websites:
Online logo studio
It’s the same service as hiring a offline design agency except that they can deliver the service completely online.
Logo design contest
This is interesting because it setup a mini logo design competition among a team of designers and let the clients to choose their favorite design. The benefit is of course you will get a lot of logos to choose from. Some popular logo contest website includes 99designs, 48hourslogo, logocontest.us, and designcrowd.
With this budget logo design option., you basically design your own logo by editing some existing logo templates. Some popular logo generators include squarespace logo, logojoy and logomaker. All of them offer free logo design but charges a small fee when you want to download the high resolution file.