Part 3 of the series of articles on What Is the Purpose of Logos and Why They Matter. Let’s have a look at how logos can refine your brand to the audience. In summary, our brand should deliver cutting-edge information to our target audience to provide them with solutions or pleasures to their needs.
In this series we have already discussed:
- Part 1: Logos Deliver the Basics
So, now, in this third part, we will discuss the diverse ways that your logo can release new and exciting behaviours, refine your brand to the audience to motivate them to create a sense of familiarity and trust between your customer and the intangible symbol of your brand.
Part 3: LOGOS, THE ESSENCE OF YOUR BRAND
In the first place, it is important to think of your logo as something that is more than a pretty type or symbol. Your logo is the essence of your brand identity. It is critical to remember that this brand identity will be affected by the psychology of the shape, colour and typos used in the creation of your unique logo. Consequently, this impact will echo into the impressions your customers receive of your business and remarkably into their purchasing decisions.
Do you want an example? In both previous parts of this series, we presented several companies’ logos and some of their hidden meaning. The history behind famous logos is long and wonderful. It is almost too difficult to select one or two for this specific article. I will, therefore, choose one of my favourites: the NBN Peacock icon.
This icon began to be used in 1956 to highlight their colour programming set up, but singularly just became part of the corporate main logo in 1979 and their sole logo in 1986. A long past for a bird’s life!
CULTIVATE A MEDIA-ORIENTED IDENTITY
This brightly hued peacock was included due to the richness of colour NBC promised with the increase in their colour programming and because the owner of NBC was RCA, the manufacturer of colour television sets. So we see here, the clever use of the logo as a marketing tool.
Several small modifications followed and in 1962 a new icon version made history with a kaleidoscopic colour background. Afterwards, the version of 1979, combined with the typo “N”, created a design called “Proud N” or “Proud as a Peacock”. Through the years, the peacock became completely incorporated and identified with NBC. Therefore, in 1986 it became the sole logo of the company. Several modifications were done. One that is very important, is that the peacock’s head was now flipped to the right, to suggest the company’s ethos to look forward to the future and not back to the past. A simple modification that shows that every detail of your company’s logos should affect positively your customers’ psychology.
THE FONTS IN LOGO DESIGN
So, how is your organisation? Is it chic, then use Century Gothic font? Is cleanliness important? Use Calibri. Or do you want to empathise your business is reliable? Then use Baskerville Old Face as the main font. Is your business traditional and respectable? Maybe the choice should be a serif typeface. Or do you want people to see your company as modern and stable? Then choose a sans serif typeface. Fonts go a long way when communicating with your audience. In fact, there are several academic studies on the psychology of fonts and what you should consider when choosing a logo font.
There are feelings, associations and emotions when people see typefaces and fonts varying in different psychological impacts. Those impacts are tied to the shape of the letters and our emotional response to them. Subsequently, the correct use of those shapes to the intended tone of communication is therefore imperative.
There are different traits that people associate with font designs. But do not be limited by what you read. These studies are extremely helpful for the personality and the messaging that has been commonly associated with that font. Another quality we should look for in the selection of our fonts is to decide if that font is the right one for the text we are designing for. The font’s attributes will be good if they are associated to the advantage or to the better understanding of the business message by the public, making people feel what you want them to feel.
That is why it is important to think of the message you want to portray before you choose the font. Font appearance is crucial. But, more important than the shape, is the readability. It is vital that the fonts are legible, clean and readable. After all, nobody is going to remember a business if they cannot even read the title.
It is highly relevant that the mood of your audience combines with the mood of your logo. This combination is the result of the communication of the clear, readable and legible typography used in the design of your logo.
A very important thing to consider is that many factors contribute to the mood of the logo (or of the brand). Some types of fonts are easy to grant a mood. But in general, selections and combinations can be made to create different mood associations. There are several sites on the internet that provide easy pairs for your main fonts. Check them. Consider what is in the surround of your text. Images and typefaces offer great creativity. Make use of them.
The mood of your audience must be kept in your mind so that you can design a logo that is clear and communicative. Most of all, make your logo readable. You might be surprised to see how many logos are in the market that is literally unreadable.
THE SHAPES IN LOGO DESIGN
Medium’s technology is constantly changing, but those constant instant gratifications that it offer are not exactly what consumers are for. Consumers are after what brings them satisfaction physically and emotionally. As a result, designers are then faced with finding solutions that will be visually appealing and take into consideration the diverse media where it will appear to a wide variety of audiences. Adding to that, solutions that are clean, simple and strong to identify products or services that aim to supply human needs. A long significant skill where all parts are essential.
So, definitely, logos are crucial parts of this challenge. How do you win?
Make them simple. They should convey the whole idea with as few elements as possible. Make them memorable. Unique distinction equals logos. But do not make them too fashionable. They need to be eternal. The medium is in your logo. Your logo is the message. I repeat, make it simple and original.
All logos have a shape. Normally, they include an icon and a text, or either. Shapes come in three main categories: geometric, abstract and organic. And these different categories carry with them distinct psychological associations too.
They are mathematically precise, perfect. They do look man-made. Normally they are used to communicate order and control. Rectangles and squares mean stability, order, predictability. Circles, on the other hand, convey harmony and unity. Curves are considered feminine and soft. Triangles, in contrast, are directional in shape. So, their meaning depends on where and how they are placed. Keen to transmit movement? Then use the triangles pointing to the side. Do you want to communicate power and stability? Then try triangles with the right side up. Inverted triangles suggest instability if it is the case.
Abstract Shapes or Symbolic Shapes
They represent something specific. Normally we rely on them a lot because symbols have this clear understanding of meaning. But it does depend on the culture, I infer. So, be careful. We are well used to seeing hearts for love, stars to show celebrity or patriotism. Arrows for direction. Those are very common and almost universal in their meaning.
Jack Tresidder, in his book Symbols and Their Meaning (2000), goes very deep in illustrating thousands of traditional and contemporary symbols and their significance. A good read for graphic designers. It is exciting to see how the profound messages of those symbols have conveyed so much meaning into our cultures. It is exciting also to see that even with the developments of technologies and science, those symbols still carry the imaginative force and impact into human life.
For example, Tresidder teaches us that the octagon symbol (drawn on the number eight) is emblematic of renewal. Those forms, mediate between the symbolism of the square (earthly existence) and the circle (heaven or eternity). The Chase Manhattan Bank introduced in 1961 their new radical logo. As their designers Chermayeff & Geismar explain, in 1961, few American corporations used abstract symbols for their identification. Chase’s business message was increased global presence with a dynamic strategy of motion and activity. The enduring symbol of the brand was simple, attractive and timeless.
Rocks, leaves, water ripples, trees shapes can be used to cause an impact on the audience. Their goal is to create a sense of warmth and comfort that geometrical shapes cannot produce. It is crucial that the designer picks something that resonates with the product, service or brand mission. A good example is Gatorade, using the lightning bolt to symbolise energy to their customers, or Puma’s jumping cat logo reflecting what the original owner of the company wanted his products to reflect: speed, strength, endurance, and agility.
THE COLOURS IN LOGO DESIGN
Colours offer the best strategy for logo designs. As colours are strongly linked to emotions, their interpretations are a permanent feature of our brains, taking into consideration the cultural influences and contexts we have received through life. In a previous blog, we have talked about how colours affect consumer behaviour, where we went through the hierarchy of needs and their relations to the psychology of colours. A theory that is extremely useful for marketing managers as a prediction towards customers attitudes that can be forecasted by the visual impact of each colour to our emotions.
In logo design, how you use colours in a single design has strong emotional implications to your target audience. For instance:
- bright colours = youthful, energy, childlike
- black and white = elegance, maturity, sophistication
- neutrals with accent colours = strong, bright colours without the childlike implication of just using bright colours
- monochromatic schemes = vibrant colours in a softer, unified feel
Your colours should be wisely chosen as they will be used in all brand printed and website publications besides the fact that they personify and amplify the brand’s appropriate emotions. This way, selecting the best colours for your brand highlights your business’ strengths and helps you attract customers.
WHAT DOES YOUR BRAND STANDS FOR?
If nobody knows your business, it is time to think about the message you wish to convey. Try to find your brand’s personality and your virtues. Then research how the impact of the colours work on that personality and message. Try to trace an infographic of your business to try to identify key brand personality traits essential to direct your message to your target audience. Don’t be afraid to experiment before making the final decision of your logo colour choices. Remember that what is important are the feelings, the mood and the image that it creates – this is called, persuasion. Ah! And please, do not copy the competition. Let’s design your own unique composition and communicate it to the market.
The composition you get from the use of fonts, shapes and colours impacts how your logo is perceived and the message is communicated. Your logo should deliver cutting-edge information to your target audience in the provision of solutions or pleasures to your audience’s needs.
Do not have any doubt. Every detail of your company will be first observed by your logo on your business card. This will influence how people will perceive your business offer and how you will be able to communicate your company with your logo, efficiently and effectively.
Tresidder, J. (2000), Symbols and Their Meanings, Duncan Baird Publishers
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