A client recently asked us about our logo design philosophy, which I thought was a very interesting and perceptive question (reflects the questioner well).
To us, logo design is much like the rest of what we do. It’s centered around our belief that we are designing work for our clients’ use. That seems obvious but I can honestly tell clients that it is a revolutionary concept for many ad agencies.
Having been head of marketing for several Silicon Valley companies, and working in governmental and NGOs both here and in Canada, I can tell you that I have definitely worked with some beautiful but practically unusable logos/other design elements created by some often high-end and pricey ad agencies. (And I won’t rant about my frustration with that here – I’ll save the corporate color chosen from a carpet swatch story for another post ….) So I’d say that practicality of application is a primary focus for us.
Of course, we also want to address the “form” piece. We want it to be eye-catching and memorable. We want it to convey the message we are trying to project to the target audience. And we want it to differentiate the organization from the competition, to visually rise above the sea of logos competing for audience attention.
But when the design process is over and everyone is done oohing and aahing over the new logo, we want it to be useable in a WIDE variety of formats. That means an exacting level of analysis of the “function” of the logo.
We look at everything from the 16×16 favicon at the top of this screen to 10×20 banners and posters. From pens to posterboards. From online to overhead advertising. This requires a great deal more thought that occurs after the creative process is complete.
When using a logo online, for example, much more texturing/layering can occur, but recreating that on paper is typically a very expensive proposition. There are ways around this, of course. Apple, for example, has a textured logo online (or on your phone) but has chosen a simple reverse out (plain black or white) when recreating it in print. Heaven knows they could afford a textured treatment in print but it’s part of their design philosophy to simplify it in print.
Each logo concept must therefore be envisioned through the lens of how it will appear online, in print, from very large to very small, and all the possibilities in between.
And then there’s the issue of traditional vs. modern logo deconstruction. Traditional logo usage mandated that the elements must never be separated (the icon, if you use one, from the name/font). They must always remain together with lots of breathing room (see previous post on logo guidelines).
More modern usage seems to have blown that to bits by necessity. How the heck do you fit a logo into a 16×16 pixel size for a favicon, for example? An element must be used or the logo simply won’t be legible. Animating a logo used to be strictly taboo. Now, everything is animated and the most conservative companies dare to add motion to their logos. So thought goes into also how that logo may be deconstructed or changed to fit other necessary environments. Facebook, for example, requires mostly a square or long vertical whereas most traditional logos are long horizontal shapes … many, many analyses go into each logo concept for us.
To summarize, here are the main criteria we use to measure every logo/corporate identity project here at ThinkResults:
- Is it eye-catching and memorable?
- Does it convey the right message to the right target?
- Does it differentiate you from the competition in a positive way?
- Is it usable in a wide variety of environments? Very small to very large? Print and online?
- Can it be deconstructed in a relatively controlled way, if necessary?
I’m sure there are others. Feel free to add your ideas and suggestions!