There are a plethora of graphic designers, brand specialists and typographers in the design world today. Some are awesome, some good, some mediocre, and some… well uh, just graduated from the International Academy of Design. While all of these artists may be technically proficient is some aspect of illustration or digital software, there are several aspects which make a great logo.
First and foremost you have your research of the brand’s market. I also make sure that I take a look at the particular brand in any segmented market so that I know what is out there.
The second is the conceptual aspect of the design which may take hours, days or weeks depending on a variety of factors. Familiarity, mood, desire and surroundings can all play a vital role in brand development. If I tired, distracted or being rushed through a project, for instance, I know the logo won’t be what I want it to be. Many times, I will be half-asleep after racking my brain over a logo’s design that day, when it will suddenly come to me all at once and a brand will be born.
Now, keep in mind that I am talking about the logo design and not yet developing the brand altogether. While many will disagree with me, I believe that a strong logo contributes to at least 25% of a brand’s success.
Now the transition. The reason why I have entitled this entry ‘The Logo Transition’ is not only from what I observe everyday in the advertising world, but what I have experienced personally through logos and the their development into brands. In the past, designers have put forth colorful, ornate logos which were aesthetically pleasing and worked for a given brand, but probably would not fare as well today as they did back then. I include myself in this group. I have designed logos for big brands, agencies, celebrities,etc. All of which were good at the time. What are we seeing now in advertising and branding is a transition to the simple. I call it ‘dumbing down a logo’. This doesn’t mean that society is becoming less intelligent (although an argument can be made for that), but rather a faster-paced society with less of an attention span largely due to technology. Not only are people fixating on their mobile devices and paying less attention to their surroundings, but a large majority of their day (and lives) is spent on these mobile devices. Thus the simpler logo’s function becomes twofold. Let’s use the rebranded USA Today logo for instance. The old logo was recognizable by all accounts. But how would it fare today on mobile devices? Not too prominent right? Now how would it fare on some signage in your periphery while you are walking down the street staring at your mobile device? You probably wouldn’t even notice it. In contrast, the new USA Today logo in it’s basic concentric circle can fit prominently in the header of a web page or app on your mobile device without fail. How would it perform on that same signage if you were walking down the street looking at your phone? While you may not turn your head to gaze, it would at least resonate as the USA Today brand in your brain. Thus, the logo transition to a more simple design.
Now I am going to take this a step further. The following is based on results with my own brand designs.
I have now branded and designed hundreds of products, businesses, websites and people in my years in marketing and advertising, and remarkably enough, the best performing brands that I have developed have all featured black & white logos. I attribute this to a basic psychological tendency in every person to not only associate with basic shapes and icons, but the base colors of black & white. Not everyone sees color the same way. What I may see as orange, some may see as peach or pink. What I may see as green, others may see as turquoise or blue. But what everyone can see without fail is black & white.
A color can make or break a logo, and if everyone sees color differently, you may be taking a large risk in your design if you decide to use a color that turns someone off or is in contrast to their vision. While my research in this basal design is still ongoing, I will continue to pay more attention to this transition and conduct more comparative brand studies through development in black & white design. I truly believe that in today’s society, simple design and base recognition is key to a brand’s development and ultimately it’s success.