Let’s investigate 10 do’s of professional logo design along with well known and well executed examples, to which you may have responded yourself and possibly wondered why.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #1: KEEP IT SIMPLE
An overly cluttered logo creates confusion. Clean lines and disciplined use of colour are associated with professionalism. If there is too much going on, the message will be disorganized and insincere. This is a most invaluable lesson for professional practices that, by their very nature, are in the business of trust.
- The simplicity of the Umbra logo captures, perfectly, the distinct minimalist and contemporary, yet highly crafted, feel of their line of home accessories. This streamlined yet artistic and free flowing design assures us, as consumers, that this company’s products will invite these very same qualities into our homes and our lives.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #2: BE DIFFERENT!
Yes, investigate competitive logo designs. Use this step in the process not to copy, but instead, to focus on what it would take for your logo to be different. Small or large, if your professional practice isn’t generic, your logo shouldn’t be either!
- Lululemon Athletica not only introduced the world to some of the comfiest pants ever, but it also took a fresh approach to logo design for sports apparel brands. There’s much debate over what the symbol represents. What is for certain, however, is that this logo’s strong yet playful style speaks directly to the paradox of how serious this audience is about having a fun and balanced lifestyle.
- All too many healthcare practices and organizations incorporate medical imagery into their logos. By using abstract and emotive graphics and colours, Toronto’s North York General Hospital, departs from the pack. Orange oval crescents exude warmth, promise support and are even suggestive of the shape of a hug.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #3: STIR UP EMOTION!
Emotion is often the key to brand relevance and loyalty. A strong logo can have the power to remind us why a brand strikes a very personal chord with us.
- WWF, World Wildlife Fund, plays on this notion by associating their cause with an image of an unassuming, endangered and, let’s face it, cute panda. The image touches our hearts and penetrates right down to a deep seated need to nurture our planet.
- The Cooperators logo appears to illustrate the idea of coming together. It seems to suggest an ability to champion agreements with a sense of justice by inviting input from all involved parties. The union of three equal icons expresses commitment, security and trust as high priority messages.
- Not all emotions played up by a logo are serious or sad. Slice uses their logo to portray an attitude of fun and sass found in nearly all the programs this television channel has to offer. Rainbow coloured slices appear to resemble a line up of juicy magazines or even a multi-flavoured cake, as a symbol of our guilty pleasures. It screams entertainment and gives us the illusion of having a girls’ night out while relaxing in the comfort of our homes.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #4: EMBODY CORE VALUES
A logo should represent not only the personality and culture of a brand, but also its defining qualities and points of difference.
- The Smart logo appears to be a symbol for moving forward with innovation, environmental concern and modern thought. A smart and compact logo for a smart and compact car!
- Toronto based, York University’s logo surprises us by departing from, but still referring to, the typical coat of arms with a simple, stylized and modern image. It appears to promise current, innovative ideologies on education and personal development.
- The Citizens Bank of Canada logo has captured a “by the people and for the people” feel! “Citizens” are depicted by a stylized image of an Athenian landscape and person, referencing the early origins of democracy and community, though in gentle, sweeping curves and contemporary lines. This logo design seems to communicate that in this flexible and open environment your personal needs count.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #5: CONSIDER THE BIG PICTURE
Leveraged fully, a logo should act as the launching pad for the entire branding strategy. It should be designed to work equally well in small and large formats, from business cards to signage, and to offer inspiration across the marketing plan, from brochures to websites.
- The use of the Canadian leaf and colours in the Molson Canadian Beer logo supports the “I am Canadian” mantra. While the maple leaf is used by other companies and even sports teams, none have made use of the image, and associated patriotic message, as the heart and soul of their entire marketing plan.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #6: MAKE IT MEMORABLE
Once the logo has done a good job of resonating with your audience, the next step is to become unforgettable.
- While you might not think of a rubber tire man as a branding tool, Michelin has adopted this playful graphic to stand out from the crowd. By adopting a friendly character for the public to associate with their company, Michelin has found an unconventional way of ensuring that we don’t forget either their promise to deliver friendly service or their expertise in this sector.
- The angular arrangement of the letters along with the white dot within the LG Electronics logo unites technology, design and youth. The unabashed use of red exudes confidence, while the circular shape positions this electronics company as open and friendly. To some it’s a reference to Pac-Man and to others it’s an emoticon or a blinking smiley face. Regardless of interpretation, it’s cute, fitting and unforgettable.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #7: CONNECT WITH COLOUR
Don’t underestimate the power of colour to transcend personal preference and establish mood as well as associations.
- Google’s bright, multi-coloured logo has become synonymous with the will not to be constrained by boundaries. The actual text is clean, simple and reminiscent of newspaper font, indicating reliability. The rainbow colour scheme, however, showcases creativity, diversity and a playful attitude, even transforming on holidays and at the end of search results.
- In North America, pink is an indisputable symbol of femininity, a perfect colour for the ribbon that has become synonymous with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. This logo captures the sentiment behind this particular cause and as a result connects with its supporters on a deeper level. For many of us, it leads to thoughts of powerful and loved women that have lost and won the battle to this deadly disease.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #8: EMBED THE SUBLIMINAL
Remember the power of suggestion; and no we’re not talking about brainwashing here! Subliminal messages can be embedded into the simplest and cleanest of professional logo designs.
- You may not see it at first, but between the E and the X of the FedEx logo, lives an arrow. This logo design suggests movement and progress, as the very foundation of the company. Solid and heavy, it also alludes to reliability. The continued commitment of the company to this very same logo, across the years, services and colour changes, reinforces our instinct to trust in the sincerity of this message.
- The Government of Ontario’s logo is a trillium, Ontario’s provincial flower. However, it’s the stylized nature of the image that embeds curves in the form of three people with outstretched arms that reinforces the way we feel about our province and the support it offers us, as residents and businesses. Union, acceptance, diversity, trust, and security, the list could go on and on. Logos that leave room for interpretation often strike the deeper emotional chords in us all.
- Thomson Reuters is in the business of information, however, nothing about their logo is a literal representation of that notion. A whimsical almost illusion-like orange swirl created with dots is, like many pieces of art, somewhat ambiguous. To some, it could represent an infinite number of heads racing around the world. To others, it could represent the ability to focus while also embracing innovation and diversity. Any which way it’s interpreted, this logo will attract readers seeking out of the box thinking.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #9: MAKE IT TIMELESS
While it may be tempting to create a logo based on current design trends or social fads in general, a logo should be designed to stand the test of time.
- The infamous Chanel double C emblem is recognizable to the fashion clueless and fashion forward alike. The stylized letters are simply classic, with a luxurious appeal that knows no age limitations. Its timeless qualities are validated by the fact that such a design sensitive brand has not had the purpose nor the desire to make any significant changes to its logo since 1925!
- National Geographic’s bold yet simple logo appears to be focused on expressing its enduring mission to all age groups, quite a feat for an organization that dates back to 1888! A photo, portrait frame or even a doorway, it seems to represent an entry point into enlightening, sophisticated and important perspectives.
LOGO DESIGN RULE #10: REVAMP YOUR BRAND
If leveraged effectively throughout a marketing campaign, changing even one aspect of your logo’s design can provide an opportunity to update your entire brand.
- Even though they kept the infamous “walking fingers”, Yellow Pages managed to take their logo into the 21st century by way of a new found curve and a modified colour scheme. The updated logo design helps to communicate the company’s new direction and commitment to staying current. It appears to be a symbol of the brand’s recently integrated online capabilities, an important message to an increasingly digital world.
- Vonage relaunched their brand with a new logo that replaces their once technical and corporate feeling, wordmark and sets the tone for a spirited marketing campaign. The new logo makes use of a youthful and modern font combined with what appears to be a stylized head and arms, or even legs, up in enthusiasm, and perhaps even incredulity. It appears to be leveraging an established track record to overcome early concerns about the ease of use and reliability of VoIP services.
Without a single word to whisper its intention, logo design communicates the most significant characteristics of a brand and sets the tone for the entire marketing plan.
You may not be an art critic, but you know what makes your professional practice great. It’s time to share those secrets! By following 10 do’s of logo design, with a team of talented marketing and design professionals, you too can develop a memorable logo that connects deeply with your audience and reinforces their trust and appreciation of your unique and valued difference.
I would like to thank Megan Sully, Marketing Intern at Bekhor Management, for her thorough and professional research and analysis on this topic.