Thursday, July 17, 2008

So, Just What IS a Logo Anyway?

I've done my fair share of logo design over the last few years. Clients understand that their business or enterprise should have a logo and know that they want somebody such as myself to create one for them. That is the good news. Many businesses don't make much of an effort to have a good logo and some don't bother to have a logo at all.

But when my services are engaged, I've discovered that I often have to educate my clients, not just about the process of creating a logo, but about a logo actually is. And their questions and confusions are not an entirely silly.

So here are some basic guidelines that I like to lay out up front to define and describe what a logo is.

  1. A modern logo is usually a flat, two dimensional, simple iconic shape. Otherwise called the logo icon.
  2. Ideally, that shape should work using one color only.
  3. Considering the first two guidelines, color, shading or texture appliled to the shape may be considered to constitute or be integral to the logo, but could also be considered optional and/or dependent on the context of any particular application or required format.
  4. Often, the name of the business, enterprise/ project, is an integral part of the logo, if not the logo itself.
  5. Most often, the name is text or characters that can be considered separate from the logo icon. I call it the logo text.
  6. The logo icon and the logo text can be used together or separately or in any combination that is best suited to the particular application or required format.
Just to take a most recent case history.

The client created this nice image himself some years ago. It is a totally flat, two dimensional shape defined by one color (white).

At some point, an artist applied some effects and textures and transformed it into a polished metal image.

I recently reapplied the metallic image onto another shape with some effects applied to give it the appearance of an embossed gold foil seal.

They are all logos of sorts, but the basic, essential logo that remains at the heart of them all is the original 2D shape.

A well designed logo doesn't have to be just one thing. It can be like a living thing that is adaptable to a changing environment. Like a person whose face and body - and character - remain the same, even as he or she dresses appropriately for the particular occassion.

And then there are the questions for which I have no good guidelines: Should a logo icon convey a message or information? Should it be interpretable, and if so, should it have meaning? Or is it more important, or just as important for it to be well crafted and distinct?

Note: I use the above hawk logo because it is the one I am currently working with and its various iterations provide a good, real world example. The owner is well aware of what a logo is and is not.

No comments: