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Standing Out From

The Crowd!

by Jack Potter

What is a logo?  Why are they important? Why do I want one? What kind should I get?  All good questions which are deserving of some straight answers.

Logos, A Short History

For thousands of years, groups of all types have used symbols, patterns and colors to identify themselves. In Western Europe, during the Middle Ages and up to present time, the coat of arms served as a way to identify royal families. The aristocracy in Japan identified their families with a “mon,” a circular design incorporating flowers or animals.

For centuries in China, artists have been using a “chop” to symbolize their name on their drawings, paintings and art of all types. In Scotland, a particular plaid in the family’s clothing identified each clan.

These symbols brought an air of respect and meant to the illiterate “watch out,” “keep your hands off,” “this belongs to us” and much more. Emblazoned on carriages, castles, stationery and sealing wax, these symbols soon became the first public identity devices.

Modern Corporate Identification and Branding

Companies and corporations need public identities too. For centuries now, businesses across the planet have been contracting with designers and artists to create distinctive symbols that would command as much respect as those of earlier times. In their earliest forms, the ornate wordy character of some of these symbols was no particular problem because their use was fairly limited. Today, however, the problems associated with corporate identification and logos have greatly intensified, largely due to the nature of the media used to reproduce them. Firms must instantly identify themselves in full color as well as black and white. The logo must be clearly readable whether they appear in magazines, newspapers, the Internet, on the sides of trucks, on television, on signage or on uniforms, as well as on stationery, business forms, labels, boxes, displays or even the smokestacks of sleek pleasure ships.The diverse exposure of a logo demands clear and exact designs that can be easily reproduced to any size needed – in some cases from the head of a pin to that of a football field – while remaining recognizable and identifying the company or group quickly and easily.

Is A Logo Important Today?

In this over-communicated world, the average person is bombarded with thousands of messages per day from every imaginable direction. Words become a blur, but well designed logos get remembered. Image, in the form of a logo, sets the stage for all else to follow. Your logo is the first utterance of your firm’s market positioning. Image of the firm or the product must be included in all discussions concerning communication with a target market. The logo must be memorable at a glance, convey trust and stability and represent the goals, achievements and positioning of the company or product.

Image & Continuity

Image continuity is the key to launching and maintaining a new visual communications program or updating an old one. This continuity should extend through all the various communication materials. A logo program includes a set of recommended company colors, as well as stringent guidelines for the use of the logo in all form of communication media from print through television.

Corporate image as an overview, permeates all areas of corporate communications. It can achieve the intangible and stated goals of any organization with the desired impact on the target market. The market will feel good about the company or product and will buy!

All logos can be reduced to three basic kinds: the typeface, the monogram and the symbol or pictograph. Logos can also be hybrids of any of these.

A Typeface Logo

The typeface solution seems easiest, but it can be quite time-consuming and tricky. Most include a clever use of type to identify a product, service or company in such a way as to make it unique. Many designers have gone to extremes by designing whole alphabets for the exclusive use of their client as an unusual form of identification. Designers have used the various letters forms and the sequences of these forms in spelling the name to create a feeling or style that sets their client apart.

A Monogram Logo

The monogram comes to us from the garment industry. Used as an identification device, it features two or three letters hooked together and embroidered on a garment to identify its owner and otherwise make a statement of quality or style. This solution is simple but can have quite an impact.

A Symbol or Pictograph

The symbol or pictograph is the only type of logo that tells the story in picture form at a glance. The real art here is to capture the essence or uniqueness, to clearly evoke a feeling or concept and/or to establish a position for the company or product.

The symbol or pictograph can stand for or take the place of the firm or product it represents, and thus it can be an aid to memory. With the decline in literacy apparent today, symbols are needed to bridge the educational gap as well as to aid in communicating between countries in this global community.

Starting The Design

The best time to start the logo creation phase is after the completion of your basic marketing and positioning research. Before that, you are flying blind with no target. When the research is done, your design firm will have enough data to launch the design search.

Aesthetics is not the only criterion. Pretty colors and beautiful shapes may not matter. And your personal taste has no bearing on its appeal. The things that really matter are:

  • Does your new logo say and do what the research discovered will effectively push the emotional “hot buttons” of your public.
  • Will your new logo help to trigger sales?
  • Does your new logo capture the real essence, philosophy or position of your firm?
Jack Potter owns Potter Marketing & Branding, a full service marketing and graphic design firm located in Southern California and Tampa Bay Florida
 

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