You named your company. Now it is time to create a logo. Rather than approach the creation of your logo as a graphic arts project, take a pure business approach. We would all like our logo to tell everyone what we do and why we do it as well as why we are the best at what we do, but the reality is, our logo will only do one thing—quickly and visually connect the name of our company with someone’s feelings about our company.
I get excited when I see the Apple logo. What does an apple have to do with computers? I feel my adrenaline increase when I see the Nike logo. What does the famous swish have to do with athletics? Does anyone care? What does matter is I make a quick, emotional connection to a company or product when I see the logo. On the other hand, I get a pit in my gut when I see a certain insurance company’s logo. It’s all about connecting emotion with the company or product. And, doing it quickly.
Here are my rules for logo design. As in all of my “rules”, learn them, understand them, and then break them with your eyes wide open.
- Keep your logo to one or two colors including black.
- Keep your logo simple in design.
- Don’t try to tell your company story with your logo, instead focus on one simple thing.
Below, I have listed a few examples of logos from my career and my critique of them.
QMS was originally known as Quality Micro Systems. As the company moved to laser and color printer products they shortened their name. The downside of the name (not the logo) is when they were listed on the stock market they had to change their initials. Companies that were flagged for any reason have a “Q” inserted at the beginning of their initials. The logo is simple and very descriptive. Some positive aspects of this logo include the ability to print or display on any medium without any loss of visual appeal and the ability to add color. It also tells a bit about the company with the image of a piece of paper folding up.
Adobe (PostScript, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, etc.) originally used the logo on the left. I heard a rumor this was designed by John Warnock’s mother. John was one of the two founders of Adobe Systems and an amazing individual with whom I am honored to have worked.
Although its use of color and design was simple, it tried to do too much by conveying the entire name of the company. You could argue that it is quickly recognized but the complexity of each letter causes your eye to spend too much time sorting through the logo, delaying the emotional attachments to the brand.
Adobe spent a significant amount of money to have their new logo designed. The logo is one of the best in my experience. The bold red color grabs your eyes and can easily be changed to black for applications when color can’t be used. The letter “A” in the logo allows the use of the logo without the word “Adobe” written underneath it and the reader still has immediate recognition. The red also draws out a powerful emotional reaction with a power statement. The logo can easily be adapted to newer styles and various applications. It can even be rendered in 3-D.
Here are a few examples of other applications of this logo. I might mention that once you choose a color for your logo, be uncompromising in change. Changing shades or colors of the logo detracts from the power of a consistent logo and causes a viewer to question if this is the same company. Coca Cola went so far as to trademark their red logo color!
Another one of my favorites, the Efficient Networks logo, can be used with or without the company name. It is quickly recognized. We had some fun with this logo displaying it in 3-D and spinning it. We also put a globe behind it and spun the globe. It works on black and white applications such as embossing into plastic casings of products.
Other applications of this logo included putting a clear bubble on top of it to give it a 3-D look when applied as a sticker onto products. The color creates a warm feeling while the angle and opening pointing slightly up generating energy. The logo also implies a smile, again playing on the emotions of the viewer.
When asking for a logo design, resist the temptation to over design your logo. Keep it simple. Remember your fancy, multi-color, detailed logo telling the life story of your company full of blends and design details might look awesome on your computer screen, but when you try creating a version that would look great on your building or on black and white letterhead it just won’t work. A great logo design can be applied to just about any surface and still look great. Above I gave a “good” example with QMS and two “great” examples with Adobe and Efficient Networks.
Late breaking news … Marissa Mayer decided to change the Yahoo! logo. Although the changes were not earth shattering, they do give it a fresh clean look. The exclamation point now does a jig around the word during refreshes, the font moved from straight lines to more curves, and the font changed from serif to sans serif. The aim, Mayer said, was to be “whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history.” Yahoo! stayed true to the three rules I mention above for logo design.
If you want more examples of great logo design look no further than the social media logos from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Skype is another great example. When designing logos, remember KISS — keep it simple stupid!
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Dano Ybarra is a leader, global executive, corporate warrior, serial entrepreneur, husband, father, and Internet pioneer. To learn more about Dano please visit www.danoybarra.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information visit his Beyond.com profile.