What is a Logo and How Does it Fit Into a Brand?

Plus 4 Key Traits of a Great Logo Explained

Dictionary.com definition of logo: A graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., often uniquely designed for ready recognition.How a Logo Fits into a Brand

When designers or business owners try to make their logo “say” or “do” too much it’s because they are confusing their logo with their brand. A company’s brand has a big job to do. The brand is the consumer perception of the company as a whole. It’s how people feel when they interact with a business in any way – and the perception that is created about a company’s products and services, its values, personality, and tone. The brand sets consumers’ expectations by making promises about trust, reliability, service, convenience, experience, quality, and more. Many elements of a brand, both verbal and visual, come together to create these perceptions. To ask a logo to accomplish that is to ask too much.

Next under the umbrella of the brand is the visual identity. We are one step closer to seeing where a company logo fits in. The visual identity is comprised of all visual elements of the brand, including photography, stationery, marketing materials, product packaging, signage, apparel – and the logo.

While the style, symbols, shapes, colors, and typefaces of your company’s logo should convey the overall essence of your brand’s tone and personality, the logo should not attempt to explain your business or services, make promises, or attempt to create the very specific perceptions of your business that the brand creates. Your brand as a whole (hopefully) explains your business with the perceptions it creates and the logo simply identifies your company.

Brand – Consumer perception of your company as a whole

Visual Identity – The visual elements that form part of the overall brand

Logo – Component of the visual identity that identifies a business in its clearest form by use of a graphic representation or symbol

Brand Visual Identity Logo

Four Key Traits of a Great Logo

A Great Logo is:

1. UNIQUE AND RECOGNIZABLE
Stand out and be recognized

To identify a company, a logo must be unique and recognizable. In our media and advertising-rich society, we are bombarded with marketing messages, materials, and logos. Only those that stand out and are easy to recognize succeed in making an impression.

If your logo looks like a dozen others, chances are it will be overlooked or forgotten.

2. SIMPLE
Keep it simple

The best logos are also the most simple. Think the Apple logo, the Nike swoosh, and the Pepsi circle. In our fast-moving world, simple is best. Complex logos often fail to create easy recognition, although some exceptions, like the Starbucks logo, exist.

Simple logos are also easier to reproduce on a variety of mediums. Consider this when choosing a design.

3. NOT LITERAL
Avoid cliches at all costs

A common misconception is that a logo should explicitly communicate what a company does. Your logo should be able to stand on its own and it doesn’t have to literally communicate what your company does. Designs often fail by trying to do just that. A restaurant logo doesn’t have to feature food and a dental logo doesn’t have to feature teeth. If you refer to examples below, you’ll see that all of these brands have logos that can stand alone.

4. TIMELESS
Trendy Doesn’t Work

Your logo needs to be timeless in order to go the distance so you want to avoid a design that’s too trendy. Think blue jeans versus parachute pants, as “Hammer time” designs tend to be short-lived.

When your logo follows a trend, not only is it not timeless, it’s not unique. Logos that follow a current design trend often get lost in a sea of similar-looking logos and recognition flies right out the window.

Do you see how these famous logos are unique and recognizable, simple, not literal, and timeless?

Logos That Fail

Based on the four traits of a great logo, can you identify the problems with the logos below? Tell us in the comments!

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