Your Logo, The Visual Representation of Your Brand

by Cassandra Moffitt on

A logo (which is an abbreviation of “logotype”, meaning “word imprint” in Greek) is a graphic emblem used by organizations to promote public recognition. What we understand today as a logo is the culmination of numerous branding and identification processes that can be dated back to 3500 B.C., and the discovery of engraved cylinder seals that were used as a form of signature. The concept of a logo as a validation or authorization can be seen across a wide spectrum of history, including currency (printed impressions on coin faces identifying the country of origin), genealogy (unique coat of arms for each individual household), and printing (mill identification watermarks embedded in paper).

Brand vs. Logo

In today’s marketing world, many people incorrectly interchange the words “brand” and “logo”, using the two to mean the same thing. To better understand the role of a logo for an organization, it’s important to differentiate between the two concepts.

When we talk about a brand, we are talking about the overall “look and feel” that people have when they come into contact with a specific business. It’s the sum total of all of the experiences, impressions, and knowledge that a person has about the business and its products or services. Many different elements go into building this brand, including the business’ positioning, messaging, language, visual aesthetic, voice and culture.

A logo is one design element (albeit a very important element) of your business’s brand identity that helps people recognize who you are, differentiate you from your competitors, and recall why you are important. It expresses the characteristics that you have built up as part of your brand.

As the face of your brand, and as a reflection of the value and quality of your business itself, it’s important that you invest the proper time and resources into the design of your logo.

Types of Logos

There are three major types or styles of logos: typeface-based, icon-based, or a combination of both.

Typeface-Based

Typeface-based logos use only letters to spell out the business name.

Caption here.
Some popular examples of this logo style are Disney, FedEx, Facebook and IBM.


Although this style of logo can appear to be the most basic, and perhaps even the easiest to design, in reality it is the most difficult to get right. As we discussed in “Brand vs. Logo”, your logo is the visual representation of your brand to the public. Typeface-based logos have fewer design elements to work with than other styles, and therefore have to rely heavily on choosing the font and colors that accurately convey the brand’s messaging. You also have to consider how the logo will adapt to other alphabets, as the business expands internationally.

Coca-Cola logos from around the world.
Coca-Cola logos from around the world.

Icon-Based

Icon-based logos use only an abstract icon to represent the entire brand. Most businesses do not start out by taking the icon-based approach. In fact, many of the most well known icon-based logos have evolved over time into the forms we see now. This is primarily because these brands have become so well known in the public consciousness that they have cemented the association between their icons and the brand itself.

Nike and Shell have slowly evolved to icon based logos.
Nike and Starbucks have slowly evolved to icon based logos.

For this reason, it is not recommended that any new business start by trying to take the icon-based approach, unless you are going to support the effort with a healthy marketing campaign aimed at creating that association.

Combination

The last logo style is a natural extension of the previous two, and is the most common style seen in the modern business world. The combination style uses both a typeface to spell out the business name and an icon that somehow represents the business or its brand.

Some famous combination logos include NASA, Audi and Walmart.
Some famous combination logos include NASA, Audi and Walmart.

Features of a Good Logo

There are five generally agreed upon principles when it comes to the design of a good logo. These are:

The Do Nots of Logo Design

Given the importance of your logo for the overall recognition and brand establishment for your business, this article would be remiss if it did not mention a few “do nots”.

Logo Creation Process

The logo creation process is often a very personal process, different for every designer. But there are some major milestones that every professional designer worth their salt will address:

  1. Discovery – During this phase, the designer will work with the business to learn everything they can about the business: what their products and services are, what their history is, who their target demographic is, what branding they have already established (or what branding they want to establish), what their main message to potential customers is, etc. This can be a lengthy process, but is incredibly vital. This is where the concept of the business is extrapolated from someone involved very deeply, and is shared with a professional designer who will shape how to present that concept to the world.
  2. Research – The designer will research the branding and logos of competitors, both locally and nationally, and for other businesses that market to the same demographic. Through this research, the designer will see industry trends (such as iconography, typography, or color palettes) and opportunities for differentiation.
  3. Brainstorming / Sketching – Putting the pencil to the page. This is the phase in which the designer lets their imagination take over, sketching every idea that starts to form in their head. Although most sketches will never see the light of day, it is through this iterative process that the designer can start to see shapes, textures and alignments that work cohesively.
  4. Prototyping / Conceptualizing – Once the designer has several logo concepts they feel are in a more advanced stage, they will often produce mock ups of the logo being used in various formats to see how it stands up. For example, if the logo was for a beer bottle company, the designer may print the logo to see how it looks wrapped around a bottle.
  5. Review – Once the designer is confident in the direction of one or more of their sketched logos, it’s time to involve the client to receive their feedback. At this stage, the designer and client work together closely to identify features the client likes or dislikes.
  6. Finishing Touches – Based on feedback from the review, the designer will make any needed changes, and and prepare the final artwork in vector format.

Most people understand the importance of a strong brand, but often eschew investing in the professional creation of a logo that supports that brand. Whether you’re starting a new business from the ground up, or think it’s time to re-approach the logo you already have, get in touch. At Grid, we have extensive branding and logo experience that can help you put your best business face forward.