Logo Design Tips

Logo-Design-Tips

How important is a logo? At The NetMen Corp, we’ve designed hundreds of logos over the years for a wide range of companies. During that time, we’ve seen logos become iconic, recognizable brand marks that provide a mental shortcut for customers to associate brand attributes with an image.

Your logo is one of the most recognizable brand elements for your business. Many people skimp when it comes to logo design. They turn to stock photography or try to “wing it” and make their logos.

B2B buyers consider the brand image a central, rather than a peripheral, part of their decision-making process. Research from Sloan MIT indicates that an iconic logo has more impact on a customer’s buying power than a plain text treatment. Think of the Ralph Lauren Polo pony, the Izod gator, the leaping deer on a John Deere tractor. Color also has an impact on brand recognition: Coco-Cola red, IBM corporate blue, the iconic powder blue Tiffany’s jewelry box.

Let’s walk through the reasons why a logo is important, and then talk about what separates a good logo from a poor one. Lastly, we’ll look at logo design tips so when you choose to work with designers at The NetMen Corp, you’ll be able to share your thoughts with us as we design your perfect logo.

What Makes a Logo Great?

The first logos were used by Roman legions who emblazoned their shields with symbols and letters to indicate which legion they belonged to. Holding your logos aloft symbolized the pride you felt and the alignment of values with your legion. Later on, logos were used in pre-literate days to help people recognize one shop from another. A boot on a sign meant you’d found the cobbler’s shop, while a thimble, needle and thread meant the local tailor.

Even pubs got into the act, with names like The Sun, The Moon and the Archer easy to depict on painted signs. The symbol soon became recognized as the brand. If you were a villager in the 1600s looking for good beer and grub, The Moon might be the place to go, while you knew The Archer made the best meat pies in the three towns. The attribute of “good food” became associated with the symbol, and soon the symbol became part of the pub’s “brand” — even though you and your fellow illiterate townspeople wouldn’t know what a brand was.

As mass communications and increasing consumerism pushed the demand for advertising, the need for quick symbols to identify one product over another became commonplace. Colors, stylized text and marketing images such as models or mascots all became part of the brand attributes.

Chief among these brand attributes was the logo. It could be affixed to anything to create a quick visual shorthand so customers could quickly and easily recognize the product as belonging to a particular manufacturer, company and brand. Soon, logos became synonymous with brands, a valuable advertising shorthand that made it easier to market with fewer dollars.

That’s the number-one reason why a logo is important. It distinguishes your company from others selling similar goods and services. One soft drink is the same as another, but whether or not your mouth waters at the red, scripted Coca-Cola logo or the red, white and blue Pepsi logo depends on the attributes you ascribe to the brand. Just seeing the symbol painted on a building or billboard can make you thirsty for a crisp, refreshing Coke or America’s soft drink, Pepsi-Cola.

The Value of a Logo

It’s hard to put in dollars and cents the actual value of a logo. Logos, of course, are part of an overall brand. Companies that are bought and sold are purchased not just for their products and services, but for the customer base they bring to the sale as well as the brand recognition. The higher the brand recognition, the more a company is valued.

That’s because logos are part of brand recognition, and brand recognition is a shortcut for advertisers. The more recognizable the brand, the more it is marketed by word of mouth and by instant customer recognition. Companies can spend less on advertising when a brand becomes so easily recognizable that customers have no trouble identifying the products or services that accompany it.

Pepsi paid $1 million to update its logo. The Olympic committee paid $625,000. The good news is, you don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for high quality logo design! Logo design with us starts at just $99!

How to Design a Great Logo

  1. Simple Sells

The simpler the better as far as logos go. While it’s tempting to cram every attribute or idea into your logo, stick to the big ideas that encompass your brand.

Simplicity includes fonts, graphics and color choices, too. Make sure the logo isn’t so complex that it won’t reproduce easily on a variety of formats such as banners, trade show signage, t-shirts and any other concept you can think of.

  1. Color Sells, Too

Color can make your logo instantly recognizable and set it apart from others in your industry too. If all of hair salons in your town favor pink logos, making yours bright blue or green may set it apart.

  1. But Consider Colors Carefully

There’s more to color than choosing colors that appeal to you and your target audience. Colors are produced for print and digital use using different techniques. Some digital colors cannot be reproduced accurately on a traditional press, and digital renders color differently on every device on which it’s displayed. Keep this in mind when viewing color samples from your designer, especially if they use an online portfolio to share designs with their clients.

Color reproduces on a printing press through two-color or four-color process. Most companies use a standard color matching system such as the one produced by the Pantone company. Pantone makes numbered color swatches. Printers can achieve an identical color by matching the number on the swatch to the pigment quantities indicated for that number. Pantone 185, for example, is a bright, almost pure red. A logo designed with “PMS” — short for Pantone Matching System — 185 will match that color identically on press.

Most logos are designed around such colors, using one or two colors plus black to achieve a final look. Keep this in mind during the logo design process. What makes a logo great isn’t necessarily the color but the design and meaning inherent in the logo itself. Color plays a secondary role in logo design.

  1. Size and Shape Matter

The shape of a logo can also impact its usefulness. Square logos are easier to work with for designers than oblong or round shapes. Consider the impact the logo will have when it’s placed in a brochure, for example. How much space will it take up?

  1. Consider Words and Text

Consider if your logo includes both the company name and a picture. If you do include both or your logo is text-based, review both the complete logo and how it looks separated from the text. Will you allow the use of words separate from the image? If so, how will they be separated?

  1. Logos Don’t Have to Say It All

One common trap many business owners fall into when designing logos or working with a graphic designer to create a logo is trying to cram everything their business does in one small image. Your logo doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation of your company’s business interests. A delivery service doesn’t need to feature a package, and a dog groomer doesn’t have to have a dog in the logo. Let your logo stand for the attributes of your brand, not for the actual work that you do.

  1. Logos Are for Your Audience — Not for You

Maybe you hate the color pink with a passion. That’s okay. But if your customers love all things pink, it would be a shame to avoid a pink logo just because you don’t particularly like the color.

Logo design is for your audience, your target customer. It’s not to please your taste. The more you know about your customers’ likes and dislikes going into a logo design project, the better. Always design marketing materials with the end customer in mind. That’s who is buying your products or services, and that is who you need to reach with all your marketing materials.

  1. What’s Your Theme?

We’ve talked a little about how color and style can impact a logo. Consider the overall appearance of the logo, its essence and theme. The impact of text, color and design all create a theme. Some designs impart energy while others give a feeling of dependability and trust. It’s the combination of elements that creates the total impact and feeling of the theme of a logo. The choice of color, font and placement of the elements builds a visual story that leaves an impression in the mind of the viewer.

So consider your theme. What does your company represent? Are you jazzy, modern, fresh or new? Caring, thoughtful and helpful? Childlike and playful?

What Not to Do

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as helpful as knowing what to do. When it comes to tips for designing a great logo, there are also a few things to avoid.

  1. Avoid Copying

Obviously, a direct copy of another company’s logo is a no-no. Not only is it unethical, but you can be subject to lawsuits or trademark infringement. Not something you want to face, we’re sure!

You can certainly bring logos you like to your meeting with your designer. That can help the designer understand what you like and what you don’t like. Let good design inspire you, but never try to copy someone’s logo directly.

  1. Don’t Be Literal

You run a ballet studio, so your logo features a ballerina and the words “ballet studio.” You own a Mexican restaurant, so your logo features a taco. Neither is a terrible idea for a logo, but it’s also not great, either. It’s very literal, and that may not make it distinctive enough to be memorable.

Can you recognize the Apple computer logo when you see it? Sure, it’s an apple, but it’s not a plain, ordinary apple. There’s a bite out of the apple — and in some cases, it’s a rainbow-colored apple. Those two changes set the apple apart in the logo, making it both distinctive and memorable.

Consider this when you’re working with your designers on your logo. You want your logo to reflect your business, but there are other ways of reflecting your business than using a literal icon for what you do. To make it memorable, you’ve got to make it different, and to do so, take it from the literal to the conceptual.

  1. Don’t Add Taglines

Taglines are an additional saying or slogan that helps people remember your brand. Some logos include them, and some do not. It’s often easier to design a logo without a tagline than with it. Taglines can be lengthy and difficult to fit with a logo. They can also change over time, while logos tend to remain the same for longer periods of time.

If you feel like you can’t live without your tagline, have two versions of your logo made: one with the tagline and one without it. That way you have the flexibility to use the version that will work best with your current project, and if the tagline changes, you’ll still have a great logo to use.

What Makes a Logo Great: The Design Minds Behind It

When asking “What makes a logo great?” the answer is the designers behind it. Great logos are iconic, memorable, and filled with meaning. But to achieve that level of excellence, experienced graphic designers must apply their knowledge to the project.

That’s where The NetMen Corp enters the picture. Our experienced designers can take your company’s brand attributes and your concepts and make them into powerful, attention-grabbing logos. From gorgeous logos to print and digital design, we can make your company stand out with branding, beautiful design work and exceptional service. Visit us today to get your logo project started or contact us with any questions.

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Hidden Messages in Logos

Hidden-Messages-in-Logos

Think of your favorite logo. Now ask yourself if you’ve ever considered where it came from.

Apple, Inc. is not only one of the largest companies on the planet by market capitalization, it also has one of the most iconic logos in human history. But have you ever wondered whether the logo inspired the brand or vice versa? What about the Starbuck’s siren? It’s on a logo almost every coffee-drinker is familiar with, but most people never pay it any mind.

Businesses spend a great deal of time and treasure perfecting their logos in the hope that one day those logos will instantly identify their brands. In some cases, the legends that develop around the logos can add an envious mystique to the corporations, but it can also unfairly cast them in a negative light.

We want to take a look at some corporate logos that harbor hidden meetings, camouflaged images and other devices that may not be immediately apparent at first glance. As logo inventors and brand imagers, we have an affinity in impressive logo design, but we also enjoy a clever gag hidden in the design.

Apple, Inc.

It’s pretty obvious why a company named Apple — first Apple Computer and then Apple, Inc. — would select the iconic mackintosh apple with the bite missing for their logo, but the story behind the Apple name is an interesting one. Co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs discussed the possibility of the name “apple.”

Jobs was returning from a commune he referred to as “an apple orchard” and thought it would make a good name for the fledgling company. According to Wozniak, both partners acknowledged this was the same name of the Beatles’ record label, but the company kept the name. The possible trademark infringement was the source of a legal battle between Apple, Inc. and the Beatles’ Apple Records that was eventually settled.

One of the more inventive stories that has developed around the Apple logo was that it was an homage to computer inventor Alan Turing, who allegedly committed suicide by biting into an apple laced with poison. This rumor was given weight because early Apple logos had rainbow striping, a pattern adopted by the LGBT community, and Turing had been persecuted for being a homosexual prior to his death.

But, according to the logo designer, Rob Janoff, this was coincidental. Janoff did mention the bite from the apple was meant to represent a byte of information.

Starbucks

To anyone familiar with maritime mythology and the draw of a strong cup of coffee in the morning, the symbol of a siren might seem pretty apt for a coffee company. According to an ancient book of myths, The Odyssey, sirens seduced sailors by their songs, forcing them to drive their ships onto the rocks. Comparatively, coffee draws patrons into cafes and restaurants.

The original Starbucks’ siren, however, was a more tawdry symbol than the one you currently see on Starbucks’ signs, bottles and cans. In 1971, Starbucks hired logo consultant Terry Heckler to assist them in finding a symbol to represent their new brand. The first Starbucks siren was based on a Norse woodcut and was depicted as a topless, voluptuous mermaid with a split tail being held open by her hands.

CEO Howard Schultz has since explained they were trying to capture the essence of seduction through the image of the temptress mermaid. As the company grew, the size and the sexuality of the logo became problematic, so Starbucks reduced it in size and made the depiction of the siren a little more modest with strategically placed hair and less mermaid body in the green circle.

Heineken

Since the inception of the company in Amsterdam in 1864, Heineken has displayed some form of star logo on their bottles and other packaging. In an unfortunate coincidence, the original star resembled the Soviet symbol for communism. While the brewery didn’t predate Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels “Communist Manifesto,” it was established decades before the October Revolution of 1917 that overthrew the Romanovs and established the Soviet Union.

The fact that state-sanctioned communism wasn’t around when Heineken chose their star logo didn’t prevent rumors of communist ties from plaguing beer producer. Heineken has de-emphasized their logo over the years to deflect these baseless rumors, but the company usually returns to some version of the large red star. Heineken and its fabled red star have been in the news recently, as the Hungarian government has proposed legislation to ban “symbols of totalitarianism,” including the Communist Red Star. If this law passes, Heineken may be inadvertently barred from displaying their logo on bottles in Hungary.

Federal Express

While there isn’t a great deal of lore surrounding the famous blue and orange FedEx logo, there is an interesting feature that most people don’t notice. The empty space between the bottom of the capital E and the lowercase x form a perfect arrow inside the block font.

Since FedEx literally relies on jet speed to accomplish their mission of delivering packages in other parts of the world the next day, it’s not surprising they would slyly insert an arrow into their logo.

Bavarian Motor Works

If one car manufacturer’s logo rivals that of the three-point star of Mercedes-Benz, it’s the blue-and-white checkered symbol of their German rival BMW. Headquartered in München, Germany, the circular logo draws on the color and pattern of the checkered flag of Bavaria. But that isn’t all the designers had in mind. BMW traces its roots to the infancy of the aviation industry when it used to make airplane engines.

The quartered blue and white circle symbolizes two propellers, with the white slicing through the sky and the blue at a blinding rate of speed. The template for the logo was a 1920 advertisement featuring a forward shot at a fixed-wing propeller plane in flight.

Toblerone

For decades, Toblerone chocolate has been a staple at airport gift shops and duty-free stores, and most air travelers would immediately recognize the unusual beige, triangular-shaped prism packaging that the confection is sold in. What they may not have noticed, however, is the image of the bear standing on its hind legs superimposed in the landscape of the candy company’s mountain logo.

Toberlone was founded in the Alps town of Bern, Switzerland, which is also known as the City of Bears. Bern’s city crest has an ascending bear in its center, which is where Toberlone got the idea for the hidden bear in their logo. The mountain, incidentally, is the internationally famous Matterhorn — one of the most celebrated and deadliest peaks in the world.

The Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons may have suffered one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, but fans can take some solace in their clever logo design. The Falcons’ logo is a raptor in flight with its wings down and claws forward. But the way the hawk’s appendages are arrayed is no accident.

The falcon’s head and beak form the top horizontal bar of the letter F, the talons form the lower bar, and the bird’s body and back form the vertical piece. So, the logo can be popped off a helmet and placed in front of “alcon” to make the name of the team.

Amazon

As the largest retailer in the world, you’d think nearly everyone would have picked up on the subtle charm of Amazon’s logo, but with the way that throngs of shoppers hit their webpage with a take-no-prisoner approach to bargain-hunting, it’s likely that it goes unnoticed. Once solely an online seller of books, Amazon has a market in nearly every area of public consumption.

The company has reflected this broader approach by adding a golden arrow beneath the word “Amazon” that originates at the first A and points to the Z, meaning that Amazon sells everything from A to Z. The company is named after the river, which has the most voluminous flow in the world. Amazon, no doubt, sees this as a metaphor for the flow of products to consumers.

Wendy’s

The redheaded Wendy in the burger giant’s logo represents one of founder Dave Thomas’ daughters, who was nicknamed Wendy by her siblings. Since the inception of the restaurant, some version of the pigtailed, All-American cartoon girl has been on its signs, cups and bags. In 2012, Wendy’s decided to modernize their rather old-timey looking logo and gave the Wendy icon an upgrade.

As with the old version, Wendy is wearing a high collared shirt with an oval brooch at the neck. There is, however, one significant difference. The folds in the cloth to either side of the brooch resemble two capital Ms, which forms the word “MOM.” Wendy’s has stated the subtle word in the logo was unintentional, but it hasn’t altered this feature.

Sony Vaio

One of the perks of creating logos in the tech industry is that symbolism and coding is intrinsic to the field. Vaio’s design is clean, elegant and futuristic, but there’s a double meaning for each of the letters. The “V” and the “A” at the beginning of the word form the wave shape of an analogue signal wave. The “I” — without a dot — and the “O” double as the numbers one and zero, which are the fundamental components of the binary language. But what does Vaio actually mean? Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer.

Hershey’s Kisses

As if their product wasn’t popular enough, Hershey’s decided to play a little trick to see if they could boost the enticement level of their addictive merchandise. There isn’t much advertising space on the individual Kisses, but if you look at the plastic bag, you can see some subtle logo designing.

The curve of the legs of the letter K in “kiss” has the same telltale shape as the outline of one of the small chocolate pieces. The I forms the base. Hershey’s fills in the spaces between the letters with a milk-chocolate brown colored background. Unfair, Hershey’s, unfair.

Toyota

Toyota Motor Corporation’s current logo is three intersecting ellipses. The two smaller are crossed perpendicularly to form the letter “T” and the third surrounds that letter. At some points, the ellipses share their walls. Unveiled in 1990, the company said the logo symbolized the intersection between the hearts of their customers and the hearts of their products.

One of the more interesting features to this logo is that each of the letters in the name “Toyota” can be formed by “shading out” parts of the logo. Maybe Toyota’s symbol isn’t quite as storied or as iconic as Mercedes Benz’s three-point star, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve.

Sun Microsystems

The Sun Microsystems logo is a series of eight interlocking Us. Because of their sizes, configurations and the directions they’re arranged in, some of the Us combine to make Ss, some stand alone as Us and others are inverted to make Ns.

The result is that the block of Us spells the word “sun” multiple times and in different directions. Vaughan Pratt, a computer-programming professor with no logo design experience, is credited with the innovative pattern.

Tostitos

Tostitos brand tortilla chips has one of the most meta logos in our selection. The two lowercase Ts are shaped to look like two stick people. Since they sit to either side of the I, it gives the appearance of two tall people standing around a table. Tostitos completes the picture with a bowl of salsa on top of the I and a shared triangular chip between the two Ts. The result is a festive celebration where the two letters are sharing a chip over a bowl of salsa.

The Olympics

It doesn’t have a hidden meaning, but the Olympic logo is so renowned we thought that we would include it in our list. Designed in 1914 by Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, the five interlocking circles each represent one of “the five inhabited continents of the worlds, united by Olympism.”

The problem most of us will have with this explanation is that there are six continents united by the games and there were back in 1914, so why the omission? Coubertin used a loose interpretation of “continents” that listed “the Americas” as one continent. The colors of the rings, along with the white background, represent the colors of all the flags of the world. The rings finally debuted in the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium.

Use a Professional Logo Designer

Your logo may be your most identifying factor — how it looks matters.

In the HBO television show “Vinyl,” the executive board of the fictitious American Century Records had a meeting to discuss rebranding their logo design. A new hire points out that the logo, consisting of a red letter A wrapped around a brown letter C, looks like the aerial view of a toilet. She explains to the board that this is a running joke in the industry. While this mortifying scenario was a figment of the writers’ imagination, logo failures can be this detrimental to a business.

Like most artistic endeavors, logo design is something that frequently looks easy to the uninitiated, but requires a good deal of artistic perspiration and creativity. For every successful logo designed by a CEO or a business owner, there are hundreds that either fell flat or resulted in embarrassing or even damaging results.

Even iconic logos, like those of Starbucks, Apple and Mercedes-Benz, are constantly evolving to suit the needs of their companies. If you have an idea for a logo for your business or you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade or modernize your logo, contact a graphic design company that specializes in corporate logo design.