Every company needs a logo. We all know that. But why? Not only why but how? Join us today as we discuss Logo Design on today’s straight shot marketing podcast.
Welcome straight shooters! My name is Jennifer and I’m here with B. Zachary Bennett. Thank you for joining us today. Please like and subscribe wherever you are listening to or watching this podcast. It really helps us a lot with the algorhythms. If you enjoy our content and find value in this show, you can also leave a review for us on apple podcasts, google podcasts, or anything of our social media outlets.
Now, today. Today we are going to discuss Logo design. Now it’s a big subject, so if this episode gets two long, we’ll turn it into two episodes.. Part one and part two. So be on the look out for that because I am excited to talk about this today! and we may get long winded.
Now, Logos are imperative, and they usually happen early on in a business’s journey. Right behind their brand name.
So let’s start there, Zachary, talk to me about this start of a company’s journey.
Everyone’s journey is the same… and everyone’s journey is different. Most businesses need and take the same steps and do the same work, but they don’t always use the same process or the same order of those steps.
Now, my recommendation is to start with your planning.
You actually go through the early stages a lot in your book - Married To Marketing
I do. So I’m not going into all the vision projecting and background homework here or this episode would then turn into being about that instead of logo design. But suffice to say that I recommend starting with planning for the business operations and analyzing the marketplace first. Because that information will be necessary when going into brand development. Brand development is about determining how to communicate your persona (your image) to your audiences and how to meet them strategically for the purposes of your businesses goals.
So – do your internal thinking and pen to paper when considering your vision, your offerings, and how you are going to operate BEFORE thinking about what to call it or what it will look like.
But don’t enter the marketplace until you’ve started brand development. But you start there because that is the information that will be asked of you when you get into developing your brand and communications strategies.
Now we’ll go into all the details of brand development in another episode some time but today we are discussing just one part of the Identification section that is within brand development.
So, anyway, once you have that initial work done, the very next thing should be determining your brand name, followed by your logo. I do not recommend starting with the brand name or logo first… and this is a common mistake new business owners and entrepreneurs make.
Your brand name is VERY important and should not be determined without deep thinking.
Well let’s start there then, talk to me about Brand Names. It's an age-old question Zachary "What's in a name?"
If you're in the business of launching a brand-new product or business, the answer is ... everything David Placek is considered an expert at this. He’s known as ‘the namer’ and he charges upwards of $100,000 for naming a brand or product. His work includes The Subaru Outback, On-star, Pentium, Dasani for Coke, Blackberry, and Swiffer. When company’s invest that much in a name, you better believe it’s important.
Now, Brand names started off as family names – Singer, Hoover, Ford But as the marketplace grew this became less feasible and effective. And companies wanted more out of their name, they wanted more meaning and purpose and use it as a tool to get ahead of their competitors in the marketplace.
So, what makes a good name.. today?
A good name is distinctive, appropriate, conveys subtle meanings & ideas, reads & sounds appropriate, and is easy to pronounce/rolls off the tongue.
An effective name is:
• Attractive to your customer target
• Envokes “Sound symbolism”
For our audience, what is Sound Symbolism?
In linguistics, sound symbolism, phonesthesia or phonosemantics is the idea that vocal sounds or phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves..that then envoke certain qualities - that’s how strawberry when to blackberry and it is also how we get made up words like Swiffer. Sounds like this could be it’s own episode too… so let’s move forward so that we stay on today’s topic - After the name, we get to the logo.
What is the purpose of a logo and why do THEY matter?
Yeah so, after the initial vision casting and operational thought, we develop the name, then the logo. And the purpose of a logo, is similar to that of the name, but it adds the visual element and an emotional element as well.
The primary role of a logo is to identify the business to the public… Identification is what really matters- design trends come and go, design tools and techniques change, but the most important goal of a logo will always be – to identify the person, product, or company you are designing it for.
From this big picture way of looking at it - the logo is also the simplest form of visual communication. It’s like a signature as opposed to a name.
Interesting, so it’s like the scrawled X that identifies someone that can’t write, just as much as the flamboyant signature of John Hancock -both are used to identify the person.
As is the swastika that identified the Nazi party, the rings that identify the Olympics, and the graphic marks that represent companies like Nike, Apple, and McDonald’s. And products logos like pampers or
The importance of that purpose is paramount. Just like we discussed with Brand Names earlier, logos help separate companies in a sea of competition.
And it’s even more true today –
• Before there were few companies operating within any particular niche, now there might now be hundreds or thousands
• All competing for attention
• All wanting their audience to consider them, first.
That creates an increasing need for brands to differentiate themselves visually so they’re not confused with their competitors.
So this is something graphic designers and business owners really need to understand before they begin logo design. That driving purpose, helps shape the direction they will take and the decisions that they make.
A logo is a strategic tool – it’s not simply art.
It’s not just a thing of beauty or something that the business owner likes the look of.. It is a tool that will allow the company to be identified. Now, it can also be appealing to look at but that’s secondary to its true purpose.
So, now that we know what it is- why do logos matter? Why are they important?
They are the face of a business, product or service. When you picture a business in your mind, you often see the logo. And likewise, you will also associate that picture, in your mind’s eye, with memories, experiences, and interactions with that brand.
So, when we see a well-known logo, what we perceive isn’t just the word or image, but all the associations that we have accrued with it over time.
Exactly and because of that, a brand-new logo can appear to mean very little. Because, in a way, it is an empty cup or sponge, just waiting for all the meaning that will be poured into it over the company’s journey
by history and experience. Michael Bierut calls it an empty vessel. The best thing a designer can do is make that vessel the right shape and the right color for what it’s going to hold.
The swastika has nothing inherently wrong with it as the mark. But it’s association with the Nazi party, will forever be associated with the symbol. The logo has been filled with hatred and negative experiences – so much that it will likely never recover.
A lot of creatives (include the designers here at the agency) will aim to attached a hidden meaning to a logo, but that’s not a requirement. Nice, but not a requirement. The focus should always be on identification.
“Meaning” can be added by time and people’s experiences and their interaction with the brand.
So let’s dive into that, let’s talk what designers might face we designing a logo.
Ok, but I have to stay cerebral here for a minute… so some more of the thinking aspects that go into design:
In addition to understanding it’s driving purpose, and because of this big picture purpose, a designer (or business owner), before working on any ideas, needs to fully understand the landscape (the marketplace) in
which the logo will be seen.
• Who are the brand’s competitors and how do they look?
• What colors and symbols do they already own?
• How can we differentiate the new logo so the business stands out from others?
It also needs to represent the company… their brand mission. And support the company’s strategic positioning. Which is why those elements need to be established first, if at all possible.
It’s also why you shouldn’t trust your logo design to the new Wix logo designer or someone on Fiverr…
Now that being said… and known by the business community – seriously, warning to all you out there.
Let’s discuss the practical rules and guidelines for making a good logo.
Ok well there are several things to remember beyond the big picture:
One of our goals as the designer is to establish instant brand recognition
• A well-designed logo will be memorable – it will help customers to remember the brand.
• And we know through psychology and science that shapes and colors are easier for humans to process and remember, than mere words. So two of the reasons for using logos to identify a company or product - memorability and recognition.
We also need to recognize that Logo design influences our decisions, as consumers. All humans have collected a visual library in their minds, since they’ve been able to see, and they have, albeit subconsciously most of the time, begun to associate fonts, shapes and colors with specific emotions and objects.
Because of that, simply looking at a logo, whether it appeals to us or not, we will immediately form an opinion, make pre-judgements, and have perceptions of the business, product or service.
• It could be that we think a company looks too expensive, too corporate, too fun, or too radical – which might lead us to avoid it. Other logos may make us think the company is too cheap or too conservative for our tastes - same result.
• But on the same page, if the logo looks and feels like the type of company, products or service we’re looking for, wish to be associated with, or are “in to” then we will actively engage with the brand and buy its products and services, follow them on social media, etc.
This is why it’s paramount that the logo correctly represents the business. You want to attract the right audience not turn them away. In the same way, logos form expectations in the minds of the public, and if the company fails to meet those expectations… things will go bad.
if the logo is positioned to attract the wrong audience… things will go bad -> You will have wasted time and money serving people that won’t become customers. You could also get bad reviews and talk from those that
would have been the “right” audience for you
Ok, next, you want to create a good first impression
There so much competition in the marketplace, a company has one chance to impress and attract. If the logo design fails to impress it’s very easy for your audience to go elsewhere. With the internet, competitors are literally at your fingertips.
Again, to bang my drum, this is why it’s important to do it right. Now I know that some business owners try to do it themselves or use low-cost, amateur designers but I believe that’s because they do not understand how damaging poor design can be for them. First impressions matter so much. Ok, this is my last warning on this, … maybe… but let’s just remember the saying ‘there’s nothing more expensive than cheap design’ – This statement sums up the losses the company is causing by accepting the cheapest and quickest route.
#4 Your logo communicates the company’s brand values & additional meanings. While a logo’s primary function is to identity, coupled with the other things I’ve mentioned here, Logos can also be leveraged to communicate important brand messages and values. Now, I told you earlier that it didn’t have to… but it CAN.…. Just make sure you keep it very simple and easy to digest.
As an example, the logo design for Amazon has multiple hidden meanings and added value messages. There is a curved line that goes from A to Z, indicating that they have a wide breath of products – everything from A to Z. And additionally, that line, makes a smile - communicating the happiness of receiving something you’ve ordered. This positivity is enhanced by the vibrant use of the color orange – often associated with fun, sunshine and warmth.
Another logo that has these added messages, the logo for courier/shipping
company FedEx is very corporate and professional looking. It’s original, core audience was the business community. But it also has an arrow cleverly hidden within the negative space of the E and X to symbolize speed and forward motion.
If you didn’t already know those examples, you will never be able to look at those logos the same again.
The 5th and last on my list of “why” logo design is important is that it can provide you with an additional revenue stream.Companies like Coca-cola, Adidas, Nike, UnderArmour, The Rolling Stones, and many, many more all have extra revenue from putting their logo on items. Separate from their main business. Additional income streams all because of their logo design and what it means to the public.
So – mr. or mrs. designer - By truly understanding the role of a logo design, you can create stronger brand identities - that will perform for the business, rather than just creating a pretty picture.
A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic, simple in form and it conveys an intended message. But it’s not easy.
An effective logo is also :
• able to be printed in various ways (big, small, inversed, on dark, on light, b&W, etc)
• Appropriate for the industry/business
• Attractive to your customer target
Ok, let’s talk nuts and bolts now… Let’s discuss the 5 types of logos. I’ll list them, you explain.
• Number 1 is the “Icon” - it is a symbol or graphic.
And we’ll through examples of this up on the screen for those that are watching us on video.
Sometimes these can be literal, like the symbol for Apple is an apple, the symbol for Shell gas station is a Shell, and the symbol for Target is a target.
But other times, they can depict real things that are have an indirect association to what they symbolize.
For example, the Lacoste crocodile (also known as Izod) is derived from founder René Lacoste’s nickname;
And sometimes they can be utterly abstract, like the Chase Bank’s octagon – they were simply focused on seeking iconic statis with their icon, looking at Nike’s wing, apple’s logo, and McDonald’s golden arches.
And then the Bass Ale red triangle – it’s one of the oldest logos in the world. It’s credited as being the first registered logo. And it’s completely unrelated to anything..but it still works because it made the
Brand identifiable by sight and the feeling that it conjured.
# 2 is the Wordmark –
This is simply a stylized word. It’s typography. But it’s not a simple as selecting a rarely used font. It’s creating art from letters and colors.
Some examples: Disney, Facebook, and Sony
Next is what is known as the Lettermark
• Ok this is almost a combination of the Icon and the Wordmark styles
• In it, we see stylized letters that form an icon.
• Hewlett Packard,
• CoCo Chanel
• And General Electric
Forthly, we have what is called the Combination Mark
• These have both a wordmark and an icon.
• And honestly, most Icon logos start as combination marks and then as the brand grows in awareness and acceptance, the name can be dropped from the mark
• Hawaiian Airlines
And lastly, #5, the Emblem
• Emblem logos have the brand name within the graphic
• The NFL
• Burger King
Ok, this is a lot of information to take in. Who knew logo design was so complex? I did! But, we are going to take a break for our sponsors and we when come back – more discussion on the importance and process of proper logo design.
Logo design is just one small subset of branding, but the logo or brand mark remains the centerpiece of most branding strategies. And it's often the most judged and criticized part of a new identity, by the public. It’s important to remember that when we look at something, anything, we never read first.
Before anything else, we see color and then we see shape. If that’s enough to hold our attention, then we’ll read. That’s one of the many reasons why the logo element within the brand picture (or strategy as you said) is so important.
All visual elements are founded, grounded, by the logo from where these elements start. The psychology behind logo design allows your logo to truly connect with consumers by connecting with them emotionally and making them think twice. That’s through using these elements – color and shape, as well as others.
What do you mean by ‘connect’? How or why does a logo connect with people emotionally.
A company’s logo is akin to a loved ones’ face. When you think of a person who’s impacted your life, you most certainly picture what they look like. Same thing with the brands that we by from. We can easily picture the logo just by thinking about our experiences with the product, company or service. It’s an emotional connection – it’s a relationship between company and consumer.
So let’s talk about making it emotional and connective. You mentioned color and shape.
Ok, now you are going to see the logo design is more like a science than artistic expression. It’s a learned skill. Here comes the sciency stuff:
Our minds are conditioned to respond to color. We all know that red means stop and green means go. So we have to remember what we’ve been conditioned-to, when it comes to the meaning of certain colors.
But! humans also have an emotional connection with color. Different colors make us feel certain ways. So if you see red in a context other than a stop sign or street light, you may think of love, passion, romance or sometimes danger. Green, on the other hand, may evoke the feeling of life, growth, nature or sometimes money.
All of this psychology should be considered and evident in logo design. It’s behavioral science.
• What type of feeling do you want your brand to convey?
• Do you want to come off trustworthy or scream creativity?
• Psychologically, what do you want?
But it goes further - companies also use the psychology of color to motivate certain physical responses from their audience. Ever wonder why restaurants are red? Red stimulates hunger.
Black and white in logo design can demonstrate elegance and sophistication
But it’s always best to stick with one or two colors to deliver your message if you can. The best logos are simple.
Now this decision on color comes back to what your company stands for and your brand standards. That’s why it’s important to have a business vision before you jump into something like a logo.
For fun lets just talk about a few colors here… listening/watching audience, you can play along with us. I’m going to pic a few colors and you tell me what them mean… and then you can turn the tables on me.
Ok that was fun. Now talk to me a bit more about the hidden messages in logos. You mentioned Amazon and Fedex already.
Hidden is a bit much.. Let’s just call it subliminal. If that’s any better. Lol. It’s definitely clever. Now, amateur designers have a hard time ‘thinking outside the box’. They often think that their logo design
must have something to do with ‘what the company does’.
For example, a plumbing company must have a plunger or a toilet in their or a travel agency must have an airplane or beach element.
And why it can, it doesn’t need to always be that cut and dry.
It can also be about ‘what the company believes in’.
Some of the best logo designs have messages within them that you may not notice after a quick glance.
So let’s talk about some of those.
Well some are just rumor, like CocaCola having a tribute to Denmark within their logo or Wendy’s logo saying “mom” But others are obviously intentional, we’ll go over some of the more intentional examples
We’ll put more examples up throughout the next few weeks on our social media because I think these are fun. You can find our social media links on our website, straightshot.net
Ok, we can move on now, I just think those are fun. Not required by the science of logo design but an added bonus whenever possible. Now, the other element you mentioned, was shape
Yes, Like color, our minds interpret shapes differently as well.
That’s why when designing a logo you need to be conscious of every line, curve or jagged edge.
Did you know that a vertical line is typically associated with masculinity, strength and aggression where as horizontal lines communicate community and tranquility? And diagonal lines symbolize movement either positive or negative depending on the angle. Jagged lines showcase excitement or indicate being edgy or Chaotic.
Now, in our minds, Shapes, no matter how complex, are broken down and construed into their more basic forms by our brains. So understanding the psychological effects of certain shapes will allow a designer to better tell the story of a company’s brand.
• Circles – A round object can show a positive emotion and inner-connectivity.It reminds us of things like marriage, partnership and stability.
• Squares – The straight lines and sharp edges of a square object displays balance and fortitude. It can portray characteristics like strength, professionalism & efficiency.
• Triangles – Triangles tend to give the feeling of power and hierarchy. They are commonly associated with subjects like science, religion and law (or lawlessness).
Knowing a company’s core values will give you a strong idea on what type of direction to take with the shape and design of logo. The more you understand a company the better logo you can produce by applying science. There’s science to a lot of what we do in marketing.
There’s one more element, at least…, that you haven’t spoken about yet -Typography.
Now a lot of people don’t know what that is. So I’ll go ahead and break it down… it’s font choice. The fonts you use can say a lot about your company.
That’s why brand guidelines have font choices listed in them and why professional companies have brand police that insure employees are using the official fonts in their emails, reports, newsletters, proposals, etc.
Yes, and those goes into logo design as well. This is one of the easiest elements for a customer to digest. Each font type tells a slightly different story. Choosing the right font is critical in setting the standard for your brand.
A sans-serif font, like Helvetica for example, paints a much different feel for a company than a script font like Lobster. Which is why you don’t see Comic Sans used a lot in the business community.
Ok, so let’s go through what certain fonts say to people… Let’s just take a few of the most popular fonts and talk about them.
• We’ll identify the font and font type.
• Talk about where they are used commonly
• And the feelings that they give off or how they add to a company’s story.
Now guys – these are all tools in the designer’s tool belt, reasonings, guidelines. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules.
- Though it does mean that you should have a pretty good reason for doing so. Lol
Zachary, what’s our Straight Shot for today? What’s our conclusion from all that we’ve learned here?
THE STRAIGHT SHOT
Logo design is a developed skill that comes down to knowing the company. The better you understand the brand and the company culture, the easier it will be for you to connect with their customers through a
A logo is supposed to have meaning, a personality all its own.
And above all, it identifies the company, while also describing what the company is all about. That’s the bottom line.
But before I go, a few pieces of advice for all the would-be logo designers out there. Things that we follow at our agency, Reformation Productions, when we designing logos for clients. Jen, you can jump in here too… you know these. Matter of fact, you can start:
GO EASY ON THE EFFECTS
In the world of Photoshop and illustrator, we have the ability to manipulate every aspect of a logo. But remember, less is more… and these effects will only complicate things in the logo’s future.
• If you choose to use one or more of these effects, make sure that your logo does not depend on it.
LOOK AT YOUR DESIGN FROM EVERY ANGLE
A logo may look great against a white background and upclose and right-side up, but your logo will be placed on all kinds of promo items and marketing materials. Also look at it from different distances.
• There are some embarrassing and inappropriate logos out there. Just look up bad logos on the internet and you’ll see what I mean.
USE WHITE SPACE APPROPRIATELY
White, or negative, space gives a logo balance. It also can act as another creative element without crowding.
• White space gives you the opportunity to add hidden elements, but watch out for the inappropriate spaces.
REMEMBER LOGOS ARE MORE THAN JUST A COOL SYMBOL OR FONT
Logos are intended to be the identifiable ‘face’ of a company. Logos don’t necessarily sell a company or product, but they identify it and over time then help build relationship with consumers.
• Be thoughtful, smart, and purposeful with your logo design.
AVOID A RAINBOW OF COLOR
Like we touched earlier, color is very important. However, considering the top 100 brands in the world, 95% use only one or two colors in their logos.
• If it is necessary to use multiple colors, like the olympics logo or google, make sure that the logo also works in one color as well. Always make sure one color works… because it will happen at some point.
Don’t copy someone else’s design work. You want to be different and recognizable in the marketplace. There is nothing wrong getting inspired by the competition, but copying is just wrong, illegal in some
cases, and self defeating. Stand out on your own.
• The last thing you want is to have your logo mistaken for someone else’s. Then you can end up in
court and if you lose, you will need to rebrand your entire company or product line from square one. What a waste of money.
REMEMBER ‘KISS’ - KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID
The simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.
• Break your logo down to only the absolute essentials:
• Do you really need that background element?
• Are all the colors needed?
• Is the name even necessary within the design?
All these questions and more should be asked before you present your logo to the world.
LASTLY, DON’T USE ANY AI SOFTWARE, CLIP ART, OR FIVERR
Logos are important. They require attention to detail. Thought and skill. Personalized focus. In a world of “you get what you pay for” don’t shortcut your logo… it’s #2 behind your brand name.
It’s not about how difficult it looks to make. It’s about the thought process, skills, and experience that got it made correctly for you.
Wow – this has been a very informative episode.
Particularly for you because you are a designer. But I like to think that business owners and other marketing folks also find value in all our episodes.
Yeah that’s true.. This one spoke directly to my creative, day-to-day job side but they needed to know this stuff too. So it can help them in hiring someone to do their logo design and evaluating
what they get.
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Until next time, bye.
Category : Straight Shot Marketing Podcast
Reformation Productions is a full service marketing agency in the Atlanta, GA metro. To find out more about the agency visit www.ReformationProductions.com. Connect with us on Facebook at fb.com/reformationproductions. Blog content is © Reformation Productions. To receive more marketing tips and insights, sign up for our newsletter, Straight Shot, at www.ReformationProductions.com/contact.html to be one of the first to know when they are published here at www.ReformationProductions.com. You can also sign up for notifications by texting "Reformation" to 90210 from your mobile phone.