A logo is the visual representation of a company or organization. It creates recognition and helps people remember their experiences and associations with that company.
Ideally, over time, it inspires affection and loyalty. Every logo has three main roles. Identification.
A logo identifies acompany in the marketplace. In an instant, visually symbolic way a logo represents the company to the world.
The logo may be the first thing a potential customer sees and it needs to make a positive first impression. Distinction. An effective logo should be unique, it distinguishes the company from the competition, providing a way for customers to recognize and choose that company from other similar businesses. Communication. A logo says something about a company. This may be direct, or it may be subtle, but every logo communicates a message. And a good logo communicates a positive message.
It may be sophisticated, informal, solid, reliable, caring, professional, creative, etc. On the other hand, an ill-conceived logo can send the wrong message. Unprofessional, gimmicky or dated. A logo is not a brand. A logo is one part of a company's brand identity. The brand as a whole represents more. The company's mission, its history and how people perceive it.
Along with the logo, the brand includes, amongst other things, the typefaces used throughout the company, the company colors, the building's signage, the staff uniforms, and any advertising themes. A logo is not a brand but it is a very important, possibly the most important, aspect of that brand.
What Makes a good logo?
Everything in a logo must be simple and evident. A great logo needs no explanation. While there are many examples of successful logos that break the rules, in general, a good logo should be simple. It should be comprised of only the most essential elements, so that it can be remembered after just once glance. Take a look at these logos, logos we see every day and relate to immediately. See how simple they are.
It's not easy being that simple. Or, to quote Paul Rand, who designed some of the worlds most enduring logos, "Design is so simple, that's why it's so complicated." To keep our logos simple and instantly recognizable, what we leave out is as important as what we include. A good logo should complement the company name. This means researching historical and symbolic associations of the company name, and using appropriate imagery for the line of business.
A good logo should look good in black and white, as well as in color. This may not be as important as it once was, since some logos are intended only for screen. That said, if a logo looks as good in black and white as it does in color, the contrast will emphasize the shape or idea. A good logo should be scalable. A logo needs to work a number of different sizes. Business cards and websites, t-shirts, brochures, banners, vehicles, billboards, etc.
Make a list of all the uses of the logo, and consider how such uses might affect its legibility. And lastly, a good logo must be original. With so many logos in the world, we need to be vigilant that we don't inadvertently design something that looks like something else.