Strong branding helps make a lasting impression that sets your business apart from the competition, tells your story and builds loyalty and trust with customers over time. Your brand is not only a representation of your company, it’s also the promise you make to your customers.
The value of powerful branding infiltrates the subconscious minds of most people and most industries. We’ve seen the big brand giants like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Shell. We all know they are more than just successful businesses; they’re successful brands. Whether consciously or not, our minds pair and associate the visual symbols and designs of the brands we’ve been exposed to since birth with certain feelings and emotions.
But despite the almost ubiquitous influence of successfully well-established branding, there’s still much to be said about how to get from Point A (no brand) to Point B (fully branded). So, what makes a corporate identity compelling, consistent, and deliberate?
At the heart of any successful brand is a symbol that encompasses all the business stands for; the logo.
WHAT MAKES A LOGO SUCCESSFUL?
As the first point of visual contact for all that encompasses your brand (the people, things, ideas, products, collective voice, and creative visuals), a successful logo needs to accomplish the following:
Serve as a confident emblem of all that your brand stands for.
Stand up on its own, surrounded by thousands of other logos.
Speak to your audience in a visual language that they can recognize. (Remember that clients and customers are all familiar with brand messaging, whether they can articulate that or not.)
Work in various applications and settings. (What happens if your logo is photo-copied? Is it still visible?)
Work at/to any scale. (Is it recognizable and successful at both 11 pixels wide AND 50 feet across?)
Above all, it needs to do all of this without losing its sense of purpose. It’s important to remember that just because a logo serves as the emblem and representation of all that your brand contains, doesn’t mean that it can literally express each piece of the story. A logo needs to be an accurate representation of the company, but it also needs to be digestible and legible to someone who’s never seen it before and may never read the story of your company’s founding. You may be tempted to create a detailed roadmap of everything contained within—reconsider that impulse. The most successful logos are as simple and deliberate as they are powerful.
WHAT MAKES A LOGO DELIBERATE + CONSISTENT?
A successful design is a deliberate design. A deliberate logo has to be intentional (consistent) in all of its forms and applications.
At its core, any logo is a single symbol that represents a grouping of the brand’s values, beliefs, and associations. It has to exist as a signpost of what’s to come within the brand itself. To succeed in being a truly great logo, it has to do this without carrying any unnecessary baggage. But for a logo to fully express a brand, that brand has to be an active participant in its own construction of meaning.
Some helpful questions to begin answering when seeking to define your logo (and brand):
- Are there any logos out in the world that I react positively to? Have I ever stopped to ask why I react that way to that logo?
- Similarly, have I ever come across a logo and thought “that looks cheap.” What was it that made me feel that way?
As with all art and design, there’s an element of personal preference with the experience of viewing something, and yet we can all collectively (with some degree of variance) agree when we’re looking at a strong, fully realized logo vs something that looks like it was just thrown together. Even if we don’t particularly “care” for a logo, we can still acknowledge a job well executed.
It’s not just the shape and “aesthetic” of your logo design that communicates, it’s also how it is presented. What are the boundaries of your logo? How far can you alter the basic form before it ceases to be your logo and becomes something completely different?
How many logos have you seen that rely upon lettering? What is it that makes one of these feel “chic” and one of these feel “gaudy”? What is it that makes one of these feel controlled and modern and the other feel simple and lazy?
There are a dozen reasons why one logo may look polished while another does not, but in general, it boils down to deliberate, controlled, intentional execution. A verbal statement that has not been fully thought out can sound jumbled and confusing, it might even inadvertently communicate something that wasn’t intended. The same can be applied to a visual statement, of which there is no better example than a logo.
Imagery adds an extra level of implied meaning to your logo but also brings more opportunities for miscommunication. Remember that any visual symbol or real-world-object comes preloaded with different associations and meanings for each audience. It’s helpful to review your brand’s core messaging, values, and beliefs to maintain the course of your logo’s intended purpose. In some cases, it may be necessary to revisit and better define your messaging before the logo can accurately represent your brand.
LET’S WRAP IT UP.
We’ve introduced a lot to consider here. If your mind is turning thinking about how all of these pieces and variables intersect, don’t worry, that’s only natural—and it’s part of what professional designers spend their days (and nights) wrestling with. If we’ve communicated anything in this blog article, we hope that it’s how important the execution of your logo is to the successful communication of your brand message.