Simply put, a logo is a name, symbol, or trademark of a company or organization. Logos can be made up of text that is configured in a unique way. Your logo can be an illustration with your company’s name on or around the illustration. Or your logo can be a symbol. A logo may also be a combination of these, but its goal is always to project the company’s intended image.
Why should you use a logo?
One reason is that people process an image in their mind more readily than words alone. A logo serves as the visual stimulation to kickstart the audience’s memory, leaving a greater and lengthier impact than words alone can do. It is the simplest and most direct way in promoting a business presence; it’s a "what we’re about" statement without the long-winded speech.
Logos give brand name recognition and add visual appeal to any document or web page. Because your logo is a unique graphic image, your visitors’ eyes will naturally be drawn to it both on the web and on your printed materials.
Types of Logos
Words in their purest form ARE images. Type fonts come in all shapes and sizes, which convey different impressions on the audience. A thick font conveys strength and power. A script font conveys elegance and austerity, and a slanted typeface conveys movement. Your company name thus can be your own logo, provided your type font displays the intended qualities of the organization.
The following logo is an example of a text logo we did for the Council of American Structural Engineers:
A symbol uses an image or images that convey an actual or abstract representation of a business. Because a symbol alone is less direct than text, it leaves itself open to a wider interpretation of what the business is about. Using a symbol in your logo has several possibilities.
It may be a take on a company name. One example would be showing a logo with an ocean wave in a company that calls themselves "Wavelength Optics," which has nothing to do with the ocean but is actually an optical engineering business.
It may create an entirely new symbolic meaning. For instance, people did not originally associate the Nike "swoosh" with the company. But due to its corporate rise and presence everywhere, people have immediately grown to think "Nike" whenever they see a swoosh. The same is true for the McDonald’s golden arches, or a national flag.
Text and Symbol Logos
A brief amount of text, or sometimes just an abbreviation, compliments the symbol and provides that extra bit of clarity of what the business is about.
There are many choices to consider when deciding the logo that best fits the image of your company. Never limit yourself to one option. It can be very easy to see an image you personally like and think it would look attractive in one format without giving thought to how it will look everywhere else. In the end, it’s not about what you want your logo to look like. How your audience will perceive your logo that is more important.
Fullbrite Learning is an excellent example of good use of text (in a "child-like" typeface) and symbols (teacher/mother reading with children):
Your logo should be compatible with your image
If you are a financial or legal institution, you will probably want a logo that is more conservative in design and color. Navy blue, maroon, and dark teal are good color selections for projecting a conservative image.
If you are an artist or a state-of-the-art computer company, you may want a logo that is more abstract and contemporary. Shapes and symbols are good choices for an abstract look. Even using black and white as colors on a unique design gives a contemporary look and feel.
Your logo design should be simple
One reason your logo should be simple is that people process an image in their mind more readily than words alone. The other reason that your logo should be "simple" is that the simpler your logo is, the easier it will be for your graphic designer to resize and recolor it for various design purposes. You should have various logo sizes (small, medium, and large), a web version and a print version of your logo, and a black-and-white and color version. Always plan beyond your initial design purposes for your logo since the ultimate goal of your business is to expand.
Your logo should be unique and recognizable
There are two reasons you need an unique logo. First, you want people to see a visual representation of your company or business. When people see your logo, you want them to immediately associate that logo design with you and no one else. You don’t want your logo to be a piece of clip art because someone might associate that clip art with your competitor. Using an image or a typeface that is all too common defeats the purpose of having a logo, and can even have a negative backlash among your audience who would view your company as unimaginative.
Second, a unique corporate identity is important because you don’t want to violate any copyrights or trademarks of other companies. If your logo is too similar to another company’s logo, it is in your best interest to modify or redesign the logo. What it would cost you in time and money to have it redone would be very small compared to winding up in court for a copyright violation.
If your logo is simple and unique, and if people visit your web site repeatedly, people will associate your logo with your company. When done properly, a logo is one of the simplest ways to make a brand name recognition impact.
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