A company’s logo is one of the first things that pops up in a customer’s mind when he or she thinks about a brand. And for those who haven’t heard of the brand yet, chances are that the logo is probably one of the first things that people encounter when they meet the brand for the first time. Furthermore, although the meanings of logos might not be evident for us on a conscious level, they still get delivered and affect our behaviour.
A good logo is not only aesthetic and memorable. It is also well aimed and positioned towards the brand’s target market. A good logo conveys strong messages about the values a brand represents and works with our sub-consciousness in ways that complement a company’s objectives. The best logos even get organically shared which helps to raise awareness and recognition of the brands those logos represent.
Colour and contrast play critical roles in logo designs as people tend to acquire various colour associations. For example, bright and bold colours, such as red, grab attention while blue or green are more calming colours. A more in-depth review of the most common colour associations in western cultures can be found in this TDLY article, but it needs to be kept in mind that colour meanings are not consistent across all social and cultural groups.
Shapes can evoke sub-conscious connotations too, no matter if the logo is in 2D or 3D. While angular shapes often indicate reliability, rounded shapes relate to emotions. Vertical lines are used to communicate courage and power, and horizontal lines communicate calmness and peacefulness. Furthermore, certain concrete shapes have specific meanings. Take, for example, the logo of the Olympic Games, where the circles aim at symbolising community.
Not every logo needs to include text and if it does, it does not necessarily need to be the name of the company it identifies. McDonald’s Golden Arches, for instance, with its famous “I’m lovin’ it” catch-phrase are often seen separately. However, if the logo incorporates some text, its font, size and also the place of the text within the logo all communicate something. Since letters are actually nothing else but shapes, the same psychology as discussed previously applies to text as well. Therefore, harder shaped typefaces are used to communicate rigidity while more curved fonts are used to communicate elegance and youth.
Whatever aspect of a logo is designed, its meaning as well as the meaning of the logo as a whole needs to be thoroughly thought through. When Lindon Leader, the genius behind the logo of FedEx, was designing the logo, he was well aware of what he was doing: “I thought that, if I could develop this concept of an arrow it could be promoted as a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx communicative attributes.” Hence the arrow between the letters E and X.
Nowadays, logo developers often need to take into account also a logo’s functionality and its potential to ignite natural word-of-mouth. In the digital age of today, logos’ constant size changes and re-formatting must be expected. Therefore, it is a good practice to use vector format logos with solid colours and heavy lines and shapes, which allows for preventing distortion of the logo on different sites and devices. Even better practice is to consider various uses of the logo when designing it. The logo should be usable as coloured or black & white and on various backgrounds in terms of both colour and material. As for unleashing the power of word-of-mouth, take, Black Cat’s logo showing, with a pinch of imagination, a cat’s eyes, or Amazon’s logo with the arrow symbolising that Amazon offers everything from A to Z, plus it does that with a smile. People are more likely to talk about these than dull, one dimensional logos.