A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).
In the days of hot metal typesetting, a logotype was a uniquely set and arranged typeface or colophon. At the level of mass communication and in common usage a company's logo is today often synonymous with its trademark or brand.
Logo design is an important area of graphic design, and one of the most difficult to perfect. The logo (ideogram), is the image embodying an organization. Because logos are meant to represent companies' brands or corporate identities and foster their immediate customer recognition, it is counterproductive to frequently redesign logos.
Color is considered important to brand recognition, but it should not be an integral component to the logo design, which could conflict with its functionality. Some colors are formed/associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey. For instance loud primary colors, such as red, are meant to attract the attention of drivers on highways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. In the United States red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with the health and hygiene sector, and light blue or silver is often used to reflect diet foods. For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate reliability, quality, relaxation, or other traits.
Logo Design Process
Designing a good logo is not a simple task and requires a lot of involvement from the marketing team and the design agency (if outsourced). It requires clear idea about the concept and values of the brand as well as understanding of the consumer or target group as marketers call. Broad step in logo design process would be formulating concept, doing initial sketch, finalizing the logo concept, deciding the theme colors and format.
Psyche of Symbols
The effective design and use of a logo employs the understanding of human behavior. Whether cultural, or internal, people recognize and react to color, shapes, lines, fonts and other symbolic forms with emotions tied to their experiences.
Colors have a broad range of meaning according to different nations and cultures. A color could mean one thing in a particular setting, and something completely different in another.
People's minds have been trained to recognize the motion of a line. Horizontal lines often communicate a leveled security. Vertical lines convey dignity, and diagonal lines are full of energy, suggesting either rising or falling, or movement in one direction or another.
Due to the design, the color, the shape, and eventually additional elements of the logotype, each one can easily be differentiated from other logotypes. For example, a box of Kellogg's cereals will be easily recognized in a supermarket's shelf from a certain distance, due to its unique typography and distinctive red coloring. The same will be true when one is at the airport looking for the booth of the Hertz Rent-A-Car company.
Some well-known logos include Apple Inc.'s apple with a bite missing, which started out as a rainbow of color, and has been reduced to a single color without any loss of recognition. Coca-Cola's script is known worldwide, but is best associated with the color red; its main competitor, Pepsi has taken the color blue, although they have abandoned their script logo. IBM, also known as "Big Blue" has simplified their logo over the years, and their name. What started as International Business Machines is now just "IBM" and the color blue has been a signature in their unifying campaign as they have moved to become an IT services company.
There are some other logos that must be mentioned when evaluating what the mark means to the consumer. Automotive brands can be summed up simply with their corporate logo—from the Chevrolet "Bow Tie" mark to the roundel marks of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to the interlocking "RR" of Rolls-Royce—each has stood for a brand and clearly differentiated the product line.
Other logos that are recognized globally: the Nike "Swoosh" and the Adidas "Three stripes" are two well-known brands that are defined by their corporate logo. When Phil Knight started Nike, he was hoping to find a mark as recognizable as the Adidas stripes, which also provided reinforcement to the shoe. He hired a young student (Carolyn Davidson) to design his logo, paying her $35 for what has become one of the best known marks in the world (she was later compensated again by the company).
Another logo of global renown is that of Playboy Enterprises. Playboy magazine claims it once received a letter at its Chicago, Illinois offices with its distinctive "bunny" logo as the only identifying mark, appearing where the mailing address normally appears.
Corporate identities are often developed by large firms who specialize in this type of work. However, Paul Rand is considered the father of corporate identity and his work has been seminal in launching this field. Some examples of his work were the UPS package with a string (replaced in March 2003 with the "shield"), IBM and NeXT Computer.
An interesting case is the refinement of the FedEx logo, where the brand consultants convinced the company to shorten their corporate name and logo from "Federal Express" to the popular abbreviation "Fed Ex". Besides creating a shorter brand name, they reduced the amount of color used on vehicles (planes, trucks) and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in paint costs. Also, the right-pointing arrow in the new logo hints at motion.