Creating a logo is one of the first and most important communication activities. The logo is the graphic representation of the name of a product or company and is a part of the brand identity; as such, one of its purposes is to help customers differentiate the offers in the market.
Consumers decide daily to buy objects that satisfy a functional, emotional, or social need.
Every purchase we make, whatever the reason that generates it, has one characteristic: we buy what we trust.
In fact, when we happen to buy something for the first time, we are usually in trouble: we have legitimate doubts that nag us (and which grow as the shopping we are about to do increases). So we inform ourselves on the Internet, read reviews, and ask friends.
Your logo performs exactly the same function as that expert friend who recommends one product rather than another: the logo helps you choose because you recognize it among many others and associate it with a level of quality that meets your standards.
The logo, which identifies a brand, therefore gives us that certainty, that guarantee of not being cheated when we have doubts about what to buy.
Let’s see what a logo should look like and why it’s so important. How important is a logo to the corporate image?
The logo graphically represents a brand and consists of a logotype, pictogram (optional), and payoff (optional). The logo is the first point of contact that the company makes available to its customers who, by recognizing it, associate it with the values, reputation, and experiences that the brand itself has been able to convey. Without a logo, customers would not have a precise element to associate the values and experiences they have experienced or expect from your company.
The legendary Philip Kotler defines it as the graphic aspect of the brand or company name.
An effective logo, which communicates something in addition to the company or product name, must respond to several characteristics:
- simple but not trivial
- better if it tells a story
- distinctive from the competition
- aligned and similar to the type of business it must represent
- versatile and adaptable to different uses and formats
Why the logo matters
The logo is your man at the front; he’s the one always on the front line who does the dirty work of putting his face on it, the one with which your company presents itself to the world.
Your logo makes your company recognizable in the eyes of your customers. It’s the front end of your communication, the one for which a customer recognizes you (ah, they’re the ones who treated me well when I had problems) and makes a first choice: do I take it into consideration or not?
The logo conveys your values.
When they see your logo they will remember your services or products, the experience they had when they bought, and how the after-sales service went, they will remember the television campaign, your landing page, your post on Facebook, and your interview they did with your sales manager.
The logo is the basis of the corporate image.
The logo is the starting point from which the brand guidelines arise: colors, fonts, tone of voice, and values. The logo is the basis from which the corporate image and all the materials deriving from it are built.
The logo helps set you apart from the competition.
Being different is important. Some make a strong color point (from Coca-Cola red which has become a summer catchphrase to Barilla’s blue packaging), those use the pictogram like Nike, and those use a coat of arms like Starbucks. Being different is important. Being different helps the memory; on many occasions, being remembered for detail makes the difference between being chosen and not.
Creating a logo, the creative process
I would be lying if I told you that there is a tested process for creating a perfect logo. Let’s say that there is a creative method that provides, broadly speaking, analysis, inspiration, design, and finalization:
- Find and identify the core brand. The core brand is your brand’s personality: mission, vision, values, and promises. This will help you identify the perimeter within which to move. The brand core is the prelude to the brand identity (the dress your brand will wear worldwide). This seems pointless to the casual eye, but it’s the most important. Your brand is made up of your values , and your logo conveys these values to customers and prospects.
- Look for inspiration. What do you like? What is in line with your values? What would you like to have in the logo? Make sure what you’re choosing tells the right story to your customers.
- Choose the type of logo you want.
- Pick your colors. Not so much based on what you like, but try to understand what each color conveys to your customers. Are there any standards in your industry (e.g. like the red cross)? What are the competitors like? Each color has its own meaning: orange is strength, green is balance or nature, and red is passion or urgency. You find tables of these things all over the net.
- Choose the font. The font also says a lot and is linked to certain values. For example, the serif (serif font) is often used for tradition; the sans serif (stick font) is often used to indicate modernity, the script (handwritten) indicates something tailor-made or, in any case, gives the sense of the informal, etc.
- Choose the pictogram. It is not necessary but it is useful for differentiation. It is a symbol that identifies your logo and the values it conveys. It doesn’t have to be just any symbol but your symbol and it has to tell a story.
- Choose the payoff. The payoff is a small phrase under the logo that can identify the type of work you do (“das auto” by Volkswagen) or be an inspiration for many customers (“just do it” by Nike).
- Test your logo. Put it on different materials and try to figure out which formats and color variations you need. How does it work in small formats? Does it remain legible? On a black background, do you need a negative variant? Is the payoff there? Does it read well?
Three rules for designing a logo
On the one hand, the logo is a personal thing. Personal because it must somehow reflect the values, rather than corporate ones, of the people who founded it. So, when you decide to rethink your logo, first think about it, then think again, and finally make sure at least that:
- Be in line with the values you want to convey. As mentioned, a brand’s values are an asset that is becoming increasingly important in terms of relationships and trust with one’s future or current customers.
- Be original and recognizable. We have said how important it is to be recognized because, in this case, it means having entered the sphere of trust, and it is perhaps the best thing that could happen to a company.
- Both versatile and clear. It must be adapted to a series of different materials, horizontal and vertical, small and large, and always be legible.
Logo, brand identity, and brand positioning
The logo is the most central part of the brand identity. However, other things are done when building a new brand. The logo arrives sooner or later in creating a brand identity. Still, before the logo, you need to be clear at least: mission and vision, the values that our brand embodies, the naming (the name of our brand), the buyer personas, the value proposition, and, I would say, a business model. You need to have analyzed the competition, and the market understood what already exists and what solutions are already on the market.
Having cleared these points, you can create a suitable and effective logo.
But why make a logo? Do you need to understand all those things first? The truth is that the logo shouldn’t be just a drawing or colored writing, but it is a real first point of contact with your customers who, over time, will remember your brand through the logo.
What matters, therefore, is not whether you like it or not, even if this, as in everything that concerns the work of the communicator, unfortunately, is a factor that we will never be able to eliminate. What matters is that the logo is relevant to the sector, what the brand wants to communicate to its customers, and what customers expect.
Logo and brand reputation
Brand reputation is one of the reasons why we trust a company or one of its products. Its reputation precedes it and is conveyed through different tools; the logo is one of them.
Of course, the logo does not build a brand reputation but conveys it.
Before the distant industrial revolution, neighborhood store owners knew their customers one-on-one. Their reputation was passed on by word of mouth. The industrial revolution has triggered a path of globalization such that it is unthinkable for a multinational knows its customers personally.
The logo, recognized by customers and recognizable by the competition, performs precisely the function that was once entrusted to word of mouth. If I were happy with a product of that brand, I would be happy with other products of the same brand. And here, I begin to recognize a certain degree of trust in that particular brand that I recognize in the world thanks to the logo and brand identity.
It’s enough for you to think of Apple’s apple or Ferrari’s horse to visualize the concept.
The importance of the logo: Recognition
A strong brand identity is essential to keep up with the changing world. The first brand identity tool, perhaps the most important, is the company logo. Often this tool is largely underestimated; in many cases, it is designed without style, without character, and sometimes with elements taken from templates.
Your logo is your first corporate asset. The logo identifies the brand and is a fundamental asset for its recognition. The logo is the first point of contact we have with our customers; it is what makes us “friends”: what would happen if Coca-Cola changed its logo starting tomorrow? Or if Nike removed the swoosh?
I’ll make it short: GAP, a well-known clothing brand, one day decides to change its logo after almost 50 years of honorable service. Customers go crazy and no longer recognize themselves in the brand: wait, I say it again. The logo change has led to a commercial problem of epic proportions: an estimated damage of around 100 million dollars before returning to the old logo.
What exactly happened? Logo and brand are so interconnected that changing one leads to the non-recognition of the other. And as we have seen, each of us buys based on the trust that a company can generate and the relationship it establishes with its customers.
Five types of logos
There are different ways to create a logo, and everything, as always, depends on the objectives, the values, what already exists, and from which we want to differentiate ourselves.
Even writing can be a logo. Mainly colors and fonts come into play, which is the minimum logo configuration. We can avoid the pictogram; we can avoid the payoff; we can hardly avoid the brand name.
Brand logo (brandmark)
Let’s talk about the pictogram, which is the most visual part of the logo. When very recognizable, it reduces the time our brain processes the visual stimulus and is the most concise version of the logo we can think of. The pictogram can represent a real object (such as Apple), be a representation of the five continents or a ghost, or even an invented symbol.
Identifies the logo in its fullest form and includes the logotype and pictogram. This type of logo, therefore, combines the recognition of the pictogram with the power of the lettering.
Monogram (letter mark)
Also called Letter Mark, it is a pictogram that combines different letters that make up the brand name within the logo. Unlike the logotype, here we have only a few letters that make up a recognizable sign (similar to the pictogram). This logo tends to be used when the brand name is particularly long, complex, or difficult to pronounce (NASA). But not only that, it’s a great gimmick to give the brand another name (think of “ck” by Calvin Klein).
Coat of arms (emblem)
It tends to be a symbol of tradition; it recalls an ancient history linked to great medieval families and refers to the concept of belonging. The coat of arms has the particularity of being a graphic sign, usually in a geometric shape that contains a pictogram and the name of the brand that lives on a colored background.