Little Lessons on Logos

How I Know I’m Not in New York (Part 3)
February 28, 2013
How I Know I’m Not in New York (Part 4)
March 7, 2013
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The creation of a successful logo is a mix of skill, luck, talent, intuition, and hard work.

The most important rule, of course, (for almost anything) is “first, do no harm.” You don’t necessarily need to find a perfect shape, color or “feel” that intuitively communicates your product appeal and brand value. You can build that message later. But you do want to avoid confusing your audience or inadvertently associating your brand with an entirely wrong idea. (We’ll get to the ARD logo in a minute.)

Oftentimes, a logo has a meaning that only the company can discern. It tangentially reflects the company’s mission. The golden arches of McDonalds, the green mermaid of Starbucks, the swoosh of Nike do not speak intuitively to customers of the product being sold. Their individual logo value to the public was developed over time with the success of the brand and supported through marketing, the quality of the product, the customer experience, etc. Although the color certainly matters, it is the design in these cases that clearly have dominance.

That is not so true for all logos, however. In other industries, it’s a battle for color. The rental car business in the US is well-known for this. Red is Avis. Yellow is Hertz. Green is National. And blue is a jumble, fought for by others.

ravis                         rhertz                     rnational

The goal of any new logo, then, is to combine it all well: visually capture the strength of the name with an evocative shape supported by a font that “speaks” in the right emotional colors. (This of course, does not include Intel’s five-tone audio logo.)

Or just keep it simple. Build the value later with the right strategy and message. Beyond the talent and luck, it’s really not complicated.

So perhaps there’s nothing more instructive than to see it go wrong.

Here are two of my favorite recent examples of what not to do. [And I welcome your suggestions for others I’ve missed.]

The Doughnut Olympics

aBBCLondonCalling                adunkindonuts

Perhaps you can see why I got sudden cravings for chocolate glazed doughnuts and a cup of black coffee last year during the Olympics. The BBC repeatedly ran stories under the theme London Calling, prompting a Pavlovian response in every American who was watching the channel.

And my favorite example:

Twilight Sparkle for President!

xrARD   xtwilightsparkle      xpinkiepie         xmylittlepony

I realize that few, if any, Romanians will confuse their country’s new political party with small plastic horses with long flowing hair. But regardless, my suggestion is that unless Twilight Sparkle or Pinkie Pie are indeed running for president, the next political party here should look beyond sweet little hearts and the cute and cuddly fuchsia palette (the one meant to attract nine-year-old girls) when deciding on its brand.









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