Almost every business has a logo, but not all businesses have logos that work well. A customer’s first impression is often your logo, and it can make all the difference in whether the company stands out or becomes lost in the crowd.
So what exactly is a good logo?
“A good logo is an identifier that properly expresses the brand experience of a company to its market and internal culture,” said James Harwell, GodwinGroup’s Director of Design. “It’s far more than just a clever design. Over time, it becomes a device of engagement and relation.”
Harwell said the best logos follow and reflect a company’s brand identity. A company’s culture, values and even its line of business can influence its logo design.
“We often have clients who discover their logo isn’t really a reflection of who they are or what they do,” said Harwell. “We do a lot of updating of logos because over time many things can change about a company. Sometimes a logo can simply become dated, or it may include a design element that has long outlived its usefulness. The thing to remember about a new or updated logo is that it becomes more valuable over time as the brand experience gives the logo its meaning.”
Citing several logo examples recently created by the GodwinGroup creative team, Harwell said careful consideration of each company’s core identity goes into logo design. Sentinel, a system designed to monitor and manage teen drivers and cell phone use inside moving vehicles, adopted a logo design featuring a design element similar to a vehicle steering wheel, with the tag line “drive safer.”
Two other logos — Allred Stolarski Architects and the Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi — rely on text-based designs (called “word marks”) which convey shortened names and acronyms that are already known. Both companies had brand equity in shortened versions of their name. MACM, for example, is commonly pronounced as “mack’em,” so the logo supports a core element of its public identity.
The architectural firm is commonly known as “Allred Stolarski,” and that element of the logo is colored red. Harwell said its geometric form speaks to their process as architects.
“It’s important to embrace restraint when considering colors, text and graphic elements,” Harwell said. “A logo doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.”
In a recent study of the world’s top brands, two key elements — color and typography — were found to be key considerations in logo design. The vast majority of businesses — 95 percent — use only one or two colors in their logo. Nearly half — 41 percent — use text only, with no graphics or illustrations. Nine percent of companies don’t even put their company name in their logo, as in the case of Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Mercedes and Microsoft. Those are among the world’s most recognized logos, and they work.