The Art of Logo Design

Posted April 8, 2015


We've all seen them, and they're everywhere. A company's logo is its fingerprint, and it can mark just about anything the company touches - from its marketing efforts to its products. A good logo tells a complete story about the business culture, values, and its behavior through simple design elements. A logo is the flag-ship product that fully represents the company brand. If your logo isn't faithful to your company's branding efforts, your logo may not be working to serve you.

How did it all start?


Logos have been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians would brand livestock such as cattle with hieroglyphs to market ownership over their property [1]. Similarly, spelling and translation were unregulated by common language rules in medieval Europe which made the concept of the family coat-of-arms an important asset in branding property and regalia. The coat of arms was a symbol of a family's history, political alignment, or temperament [2].

Fast forward to modern western history, logos started to became popular representational tools in the early 20th century with the rise of the industrial printing press. Today, logos are prevalent everywhere in commerce, and it is difficult to perform business without a visual representation of the brand identity.



Figure 1. History of the Pepsi Logo [3]

Simplicity = Success

Our society is fast, complex, and loud. Sometimes it even feels like there's not enough time in the day to do all the things that need to be done. Consumers have very little time to take in visual information throughout the day, and as a consequence businesses might not have more than a fraction of second to engage their audience before they move on. The fraction of a second in which a consumer is engaged (looking and thinking) about your brand is a pivotal point that determines whether you lose a sale right there and then, or if the consumer flows into the sales funnel. While this might sound painfully obvious, the mark is missed by many small businesses. It doesn't have to be that way.

Successful logos all exercise the same visual standards and design principles:

1. Successful logos have a sense of perfect balance between positive and negative space, which is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also allows the logo to be easily identifiable as it scales very large or very small. Good balance creates a striking and visually memorable design.

2. Successful logos might have two or three colors at most, but typically no more. Even though color is an element of the logo, it's not an integral defining element of the mark. For example, the logo is identifiable whether it is in color or in black-and-white.

3. Brand appeal is everything. Successful logos visually appeal to the company's target audience by taking into consideration the common threads that attract the target customers to the business. Some keywords to consider are: wholesome, clinical, curvy, sharp, frenetic, cheerful, clean, angular, organic, open, closed, flat, layered, dimensional.

The monogram vs. stylized typography

The monogram works very well for companies with the financial muscle or social know-how to flood a market with its visual footprint. Monograms work because they are simple visual symbols that represent a company's identity, history, and the consumer's personal experience as well as their experiential expectations. The current Pepsi logo in figure 1 is a prime example of an effective monogram. The Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola logos are perfect examples of a stylized company names that work as logos. They are visually appealing and also clearly state the company name. Both monograms and stylized typography can be used in tandem to visually identify a brand.

The UpprLVL Process

My logo design services start with a one-on-one discussion with the client, where the client summarizes the company's culture and values, the target market, and any specific ideas that are in the pipeline. I take all the information gathered in the consultation to develop several vastly different concepts which are narrowed by the client into the best possible outcome that appeals to their aesthetic style and requirements.

I employ a number of methods to create concepts. Sometimes I'll start with completely random shapes and lines and allow the logo to develop serendipitously through experimentation. Often I'll refine basic solid shapes until coming across a design that grows into a potential final product. Either way, communication and experimentation are both important to the creative process of logo design. Ultimately, it's a process that is constantly changing to develop a branding image as unique as a fingerprint.

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Resources:
[1] Farmed and Domesticated Animals (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/domesticated_animals.htm)
[2] Family history / Coat of arms (http://www.archives.com/genealogy/family-history-coat-of-arms.html)
[3] History of the Pepsi logo (https://www.logaster.com/blog/pepsi-logo/)



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