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Michael Meadows Creative has been in business for over 18 years, providing our clients with on-target creative messages that set them apart from their competition. Contact us if you want that next big idea to be for you.

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Wednesday
Apr102013

The importance of a professionally designed logo.

Historically, the idea of a logo is rooted far in the past. In ancient kingdoms like Sumeria, Egypt or Phoenicia, the only people that could read were the priest class and some of the aristocracy. The vast majority of people were illiterate. So pictures that represent what one did, like an image of a shoe for a shoe cobbler, would be hung out front of the shop to attract business, to tell people “Get your fresh, hot shoes here”. But what is a logo in modern times? Pretty much everyone can read now, so why is it necessary to create that little bug that is on every sign, product label, website or ad. It all comes down to leaving the consumer with something simple they can remember, something they can relate to the next time they see that symbol. It’s like a memory trigger. When I say Coca Cola, what comes to mind? That antique script type, that red and white ribbon wave and that distinctive bottle shape. Each of those can stand alone and everyone knows what they represent. Planet wide. Of course, that recognition didn’t happen overnight, but through a century of usage and hundreds of millions of dollars in promotion. But you get the idea.

I don’t think I have ever had a client ask me what is a logo or what to look for in a memorable logo; but it’s important to understand what it is, and what one can expect it to do for your company. If you go to Wikipedia, you’ll get this definition: “A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark)”. I think though, that it is a bit more than this. 

In my experience, the process of creating a logo for a company is almost never a cold, abstract exercise. I have yet to meet any client that can remove the emotional aspect out of the decision of what makes the ideal mark that symbolically represents their company, product or service. But, contrary to that primal need to make that decision based on emotional needs, that is exactly what they should do to make that logo do all the hard lifting that it needs to do to be successful. In a sense, it’s as much science as it is art. And a professional designer is that scientist (and artist) you need.

In order to get the best logo, one must first narrowly define what their company, product or service is and how they want the public to perceive them. That takes a bit of soul searching, and if it’s a large company, a lot of back and forthing among the principle decision makers. This is probably the hardest part to crafting an effective logo, but you should take the time up front and really define what you want the public to think of when they see that mark. It pays off in the end and you will almost never be surprised by what the designer shows you.

Once you come up with that definition, refrain from doing logo window shopping before you meet with your designer. I know it’s a temptation, but it’s best not to go into the process with any preconceptions. Meet with your designer and go over what you have decided you want the public to feel when they see your logo, and then cut them loose. 

If I were designing your logo, I would use all of my design tools to help define and differentiate your mark from all of your competition. Designers have many tools in their tool box—color, typography, line, texture, value, shape—and I would apply many of these in designing your logo. But first, the logo must work in a one color usage. If it can work as a simple black and white logo, it can work as full color, loaded with texture or extruded into a three dimensional aspect whizzing across the screen. And, it needs to function at a very small size. Those hairline rules under the name of your company looks fine when they are on a billboard, but put it on the side of a ballpoint pen or down in the corner of a website viewed on low resolution monitors, and those rules just might disappear. Functionality in all possible usages is critical. A good designer knows these things and will apply them to crafting your logo. 

Whenever I design a logo, step one is a one color usage. Simple black and white. If the logo functions at that simple level, you have a firm foundation to build on. After a black and white version is approved, step two is looking at it in color. Color is not an arbitrary choice; it too must pull it’s weight. What does that color choice tell the public about your company? Does it function across a multitude of backgrounds? All of these choices must be considered before a final decision is made on color choices. Just because the CEO or his/her significant-other likes hot pink isn’t a reason to apply it to your company logo (I’m looking at you Verizon). Make that color work.

Will the logo have a texture, a dimensional aspect? And what will that tell people about your logo and what it stands for. I could design a logo using helvetica (the most commonly used typeface in the world), and just by applying some grungy texture or a super slick surface to it, a whole new perception is achieved.

As you can see, a logo is not a simple, pretty gewgaw; there is a lot that goes into designing a logo that does the job it is designed to do. And that is why it is important to use an accomplished logo designer up front. I know it’s tempting to use the teenager next door because he has a website he produced himself, but deep down inside you know that’s going to bite you in the keester. In the end, you’ll be happier with what the pro brings to the table.