Design with symbolic character: How the logo becomes a strong brand representative.

The logo as central element in the design system

The logo as a central element in the design system
Next to the brand name, the logo is obviously the most prominent brand element. As a central component of a brand’s appearance, it serves to identify a company. Therefore, it must be significantly different from other logos in the same market niche in terms of design language, color scheme, typography and iconography. Its function is not so much to provide information about what a company actually does, but rather to convey an idea of the brand identity – because this is ultimately what differentiates market participants from one another.

Our design process therefore aims to make the logo unique on the one hand, and on the other, to evoke positive associations with the brand that are related to its offering. This can be, for example, trust, reliability, lifestyle or even status awareness.

Logo, word mark, symbol, or monogram? Is it all the same?

The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything. In fact, logo is the umbrella term for a graphic or typographic sign that stands as a symbol for a brand or an institution. Depending on the creative means used, a distinction is made between

  • Word mark: the brand name is designed purely typographically
  • Symbol: the brand is represented by a visual symbol, which can stand for itself
  • Word/symbol: the combination of typographic design and a visual symbol that forms a unit. This can also be a monogram, for example.

The logo – the brand at a glance

Because the task of a logo is above all to attract the attention of the target group and to be memorable and recognizable, it does not have to be concretely decipherable. Think of iconic, globally learned and well-known logos such as those of Deutsche Bank, Nike or Mercedes-Benz: all of these logos are abstract. None even remotely depicts what the respective company offers or produces. Rather, they stand for a promise: for healthy growth, athletics for all, excellent quality and high standards.

 

A logo is not a brand

A logo always needs the context of a company, products and services, brand design and communication in order to be effective. A logo alone does not make a brand. It is its context that ultimately charges the logo with meaning, not the other way around. Therefore it is always – really always! – to design a logo or a word mark or word-picture mark as a single element without considering the brand’s appearance as a whole. It is illusory to expect that a singular symbol can self-explanatorily stand for an entire entity. It can’t, and that’s not its job – quite apart from the fact that one symbol doesn’t get you very far in brand communication.

A logo needs a design system

A logo is and will therefore always be part of a design system – albeit a central one. Logo and brand elements must relate to each other in terms of design, color, typography, stylistics and iconography in order to convey a coherent image of the brand. There are a number of requirements for the logo as a “flag, signature, coat of arms, street sign” (Paul Rand): not only must it be concise, quickly grasped and durable, but it must also function in all media in very small to very large representations as well as in color and black and white. These requirements and the specific areas of application have a significant influence on the design means.

Corporate Design Elemente Beispielen

Our standards for good logo design

  • Good logo design captures the essence of the brand

    Simplistic, but not simple: good logos are the refined and distilled identity of a brand. Filtering this and getting to the heart of it visually is an essential part of the design task. Such logos are characterized by something unexpected or unique, without coming across as too contrived or intentional. Supposedly simple logos are mostly easy to recognize and memorable. This makes them very effective, because they have the power to catch the eye of viewers in the daily rush of information, even during fleeting “encounters” with the brand.

  • Good logo design is contextually well-founded

    The logo takes into account the positioning of the brand and its target audience: a childlike font and very colorful coloring would be appropriate for a logo for a manufacturer of toys, for example, but less so for a consulting firm. On the other hand, the logo does not have to be too direct and thus uninspired. A successful logo for an interior design brand doesn’t need to feature a couch to work, see point 1.

  • Good logo design differentiates

    The essential mission in logo design is to create a distinctive, memorable and clear symbol for a brand. It is therefore essential to get an overview of the logos of market participants – which means occasionally having to say goodbye to good ideas that someone else unfortunately came up with earlier.

  • Good logo design is contemporary and timeless at the same time

    We believe that a good logo should have a certain lifespan. That’s why we value using design tools such as typography, color or design language that are not only appropriate to the brand, its services and the industry, but also take into account the temporal context.

  • Good logo design is designed for versatility

    An effective logo is scalable in size and works across a variety of media and applications. Optimally, it loses none of its power when displayed in monochrome, black and white, or inverted, meaning light on a dark background or vice versa, or even small on a smartphone display or huge on a storefront banner.

Versatile and recognizable

Given the increasing importance of dynamic appearances, changeable drawing systems are becoming increasingly important: logos can be changed in color and shape. However, the appearance as a system should remain consistent and recognizable in order to develop its effect.

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    Maurits den Held

    CREATIVE DIRECTOR

    030 403 664 76

    m.denheld@helder.design