Famous American art director and graphic designer, Paul Rand (the brainchild behind iconic logos for brands like IBM and Westinghouse) once said, the primary goal of a logo is to identify. When designing a logo, it's important to understand there really are no set rules. At its core, the purpose of a logo is to distinguish an organisation, brand, product, or person it represents through an instantly recognisable device or symbol. Before a logo is used in association with an organisation, it is simply an abstract shape or image. Only until it becomes linked with an organisation does a logo gain its power. For instance, when looking at iconic logos for companies, such as the iconic Nike swoosh' symbol or the golden arches of Macca's, you immediately get a sense of everything these brands represent with just a glance. Whilst most designers can create a reasonably decent logo, it takes a special mix of design skills, creative theory and skilful application to execute a logo design which is truly unique, appealing and memorable.
Standing the test of time
There are many logos that have been around for a long time, some for over 50 years or more, which are still as relevant today as they were when conceptualised many years ago. Much can be learnt by studying these classic logos, and it's important to look at their characteristics and understand what qualities have made them so timeless. By understanding these characteristics, we can make better-informed decisions when creating a new logo. At Zakazukha, our designers, with their years of research and experience, have compiled their own list of the six most important qualities which contribute to creating a memorable and timeless logo:
- Quality of execution
Simplicity and memorability
A logo that is recognisable and easy to remember is almost always going to be successful. The key to starting out is to think of a single key message or idea and focus on how to explain it clearly and concisely. This doesn't necessarily mean creating a minimalistic' logo. You can still incorporate a few different elements, but the logo needs to portray and explain one basic idea. If you try to intertwine too many messages, your message can easily get lost. A recent project we did for our client, Priar, is a good example of this issue. Priar is an acronym for Procurement Risk Identification, Assessment and Reduction. There is no way we could make a simple logo to try and explain the entire acronym. Instead, we started by looking at the messaging Priar wanted to portray. Priar is in the business of Procurement and Risk Management. We wanted potential clients to feel protected and safe with the transaction they are making, so our team researched and brainstormed icons and items which successfully conveyed this sentiment. We came up with various concepts, from padlocks and security ticks to the shield which was eventually decided upon. The shield represents protection, strength and security exactly the messaging we wanted to send.
The shield is clear and modern. We used a single line shape with a gradient colour throughout to draw attention from viewers. We also utilised a sans serif font in lowercase, as this case works to 'soften' the logo and give it a more approachable and friendly feel.
Scalability and versatility
Another important characteristic of a successful logo design is scalability and versatility. This means the logo can be identifiable in both large and small formats, on various platforms and different coloured backgrounds. These days, logos are used in various mediums so versatility is key. On social media and websites, most logos appear in small-scale form. Conversely, they may also be used on large-scale signage on billboards, vehicles, storefronts and buildings. Therefore, it's important to test out your logo on various mockups and by zooming it in and out, and also to experiment with various background colours to ensure it is clear and legible in all formats. It's also worth noting that logos are no longer one static object. It's good design practice to create an entire branding system whereby a company may have an entire set of identifiable icons and various logo formats rather than just one single logo. Take Priar as an example. After we created the main logo, we also created different versions. This included the shield icon by itself, a logo without the acronym (which can be used at a smaller scale) and then the original logo.
The logo should also have different colour options. For example, a logo may be a darker colour, but this wouldn't work if it was to be placed on a dark background. This is where we would provide a reversed logo option. For example, a white version that can be placed on a darker background (see below).
If the company name cannot be identified by glancing at the logo, you have a serious problem. It can be quite common to see logo designs where the letters have been so over styled, you cannot actually read what it says! It's important to start a logo by considering a well-designed font as the basis. A good graphic designer will have a deep understanding of appropriate typography, spacing and legibility. Make sure you review the logo with others to ensure it's clearly legible. If there's any doubt, it is worth revising the design accordingly, as it can be a devastating and costly mistake if your customers cannot work out your company name!
Quality of execution
A logo's success lies on being well executed. You may have an amazing idea but if it's not pulled off correctly, messaging will be lost and the logo will appear unprofessional. A successful logo should be created by a qualified graphic designer. Someone who understands typography, lines, shapes, spacing and colour choices. You may have the concept down pat, but using a professional who can execute your idea flawlessly is worth its weight in gold! This is where the team at Zakazukha can help. We can help with brainstorming, researching and executing your logo with our full team of professionals, from graphic designers to marketing experts. If you need a new brand or even a rebrand of your current logo, contact us to see how we can help you.