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Logo

By Mark Brinn
Explore the significance of a brand logo as a visual representative of your brand's identity. Dive into the art and science of crafting an effective logo, understand the key elements that contribute to a successful logo design, and learn about the different types of logos. This guide also walks you through various options to acquire a logo that best fits your brand's ethos and budget.

Just like a well-placed rug can tie a room together, a well-designed logo can encapsulate a brand’s identity, making it instantly recognizable to its audience. It’s more than just a pretty picture—it’s a visual representation of your brand’s values, ideas, and personality.

Visual Appeal

First things first, a logo needs to be visually appealing. It’s the first thing that catches the eye. It’s the bright red apple in a sea of green pears. It’s the sharp suit in a room full of casual wear. It’s the Identity of your brand, and it needs to be attractive.

Distinctive

But being pretty isn’t enough. A logo needs to be unique, to stand out from the crowd. It needs to be different, just like your brand is different. It’s your brand’s Name, its Speciality, it’s what sets your brand apart from the rest.

Meaningful

A logo also needs to be meaningful. It needs to tell a story, your brand’s Story. It needs to reflect your brand’s Purpose, its raison d’être. It’s not just a pretty picture—it’s a symbol of everything your brand stands for.

Emotional Resonance

Lastly, a logo needs to resonate emotionally with its audience. It needs to evoke feelings, stir emotions, create a connection. It’s your brand’s Persona, its Voice, its way of reaching out and touching its audience.

A logo is not just a picture—it’s a powerful tool that can encapsulate a brand’s identity. It’s a visual representation of everything your brand stands for. It’s the rug that ties the room together.

Types of Logos

Alright, let’s dive in and take a look at some classic logos. There are many different types of logos, each with its own charm and purpose. Let’s break it down.

Wordmarks

First up, we’ve got wordmarks. These are all about typography – no icons. Think Google or Coca-Cola. They take a name and make it your own by using custom typography and script letterforms.

Pictorial Marks

Next, we have pictorial marks. These are the essentially the opposite of wordmarks – a unique design element without any letterforms. Think McDonald’s golden arches ‘M’ or the swoosh in Nike. Almost every brand has aspirations of being recognized by a symbol alone across the globe – this is an endeavor that takes decades and many, many millions of dollars.

Combination Marks

Put the two together and you’ve got a combination mark. These are a blend of a symbol or an icon with a wordmark or a logotype. Most logos are combination marks.

Emblems

Moving on, we have emblems. These are typically more detailed and can give off a classic or traditional vibe. Think Harley-Davidson or Starbucks.

Mascot Logos

Mascot logos feature a character, often animated, that becomes the face of the brand. Think of the cheerful Michelin Man from Michelin or the energetic Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes. Mascot logos aim to forge a friendly and memorable connection with consumers across various media.

Monogram Logos

Monograms use initials or abbreviations to represent a brand. This can be especially useful for companies with longer names, like HBO (Home Box Office) or NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Profile Pictures – A Footnote

Not Really Logos, But Sometimes Kinda

Profile Pictures (PFP)s are not logos per se, but, if you are launching a personal brand your PFP essentially functions as a logo. PFPs are typically used for social media and should align with your brand’s style and color scheme. Regardless of your business type, your logo will almost certainly end up in a PFP, so it’s always a good idea to keep that small circle shape in mind when designing (or approving) logos.

For example, consider Gary Vaynerchuk or as many know him, Gary V. With over 3.1 million followers on Twitter, his profile picture truly represents his personal brand. It features him smiling, sporting a baseball cap, with hands clasped and looking like he’s ready to engage in a conversation. It’s a snapshot of his approachable, ready-for-action and engaging persona.

A Few of My Favorite Logos

Logos are one of my favorite art forms. I think a well made logo is a thing of beauty. This list could go on forever, but I forced myself to pick a few of my favorites to highlight.

The “Stüssy S”

My personal introduction to logos began by idolizing a logo, that wasn’t a logo at all! As a kid I drew the “Stüssy S” on everything – homework, backpacks, the underside of desks, you name it. I always thought it was the logo for the clothing brand Stüssy. When researching this article, I learned it had no affiliation with the Stüssy brand at all (but apparently they get asked that question a lot)! I decided to include it here anyway because of the personal impact that it had on me. If you were a kid in the 90s I’m willing to bet that you saw this classic letterform adorning the hallways of your middle school as well.

Atari

Another childhood favorite and one that brings me nostalgic memories of mall arcades and long nights in friends basements – the Atari logo. Conceived by George Opperman in 1973, the Atari logo, is affectionately known as “the Fuji,” due to it’s resemblance to the famous mountain. Co-Founder of Atari Nolan Bushnell championed simplicity in his brief for the logo, demanding a design that struck an immediate chord and possessed the vitality to linger, both in immediate spaces and the expanse of pop culture. Although the specific intent behind the logo is unknown, “the Fuji” has passed the test of time and is still in use to this day.

The Rolling Stones

The audacious ‘Tongue and Lip Design’ of The Rolling Stones, crafted by John Pasche, will forever echo the raw, rebellious spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. Its strikingly bold and unapologetic visual has become a cultural symbol of defiance and liberation in music. It dares to stick out (literally and metaphorically) communicating the band’s unabashedly defiant ethos.

John Pasche next to his hand painted original
A few variations throughout the years.

Sony VAIO

Sony VAIO’s logo, skillfully conceptualized by Timothy Hanley, is a harmonious marriage of technology and art. It seamlessly bridges the analog and digital worlds with ‘VA’ symbolizing an analog wave and ‘IO’ illustrating the binary code. It’s a visual metaphor that deftly communicates the brand’s convergence of entertainment and technical innovation, exemplifying elegance in simplicity.

Cobra Dogs

The Cobra Dogs logo, masterfully created by Aaron Draplin, uniquely captures a playful, adventurous spirit with its bold, colorful aesthetic. Draplin, known for his vibrant and impactful designs, crafts a visual that is both fun and evocative. The cobra, stylishly intertwined with a hot dog, unleashes a youthful, rebellious energy that unabashedly invites you to partake in a daringly delicious adventure.

FEDEX

No introduction to logos would be complete without nodding to the FedEx logo, designed by Lindon Leader. It’s a masterclass in hidden simplicity. Once you spot the concealed arrow nestled between the ‘E’ and ‘X’, it becomes eternally imprinted in your visual memory, continually symbolizing forward motion and logistical reliability in a sly, subtle whisper.

Conclusion

So what can we learn from these classic logos? Here are a few takeaways:

  • Keep it simple. A logo doesn’t have to be complex to be effective.
  • Make it distinct. A unique logo will help your brand stand out from the crowd.
  • Create emotional resonance. A logo that tells a story or evokes an emotion will stick with people.

As we’ve seen, an effectively designed logo can communicate your brand’s identity in an instant. It’s a representation of your brand’s core values and beliefs, condensed into a simple, powerful image. Therefore, never underestimate the importance of your logo—choose it wisely.

In the next chapter, we’ll delve into the world of color. We’ll talk about color psychology, and how it impacts branding. We’ll see how color selection can influence the way your brand is perceived.

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