Making your marque

“Logo design is probably the most exacting discipline within the graphic design spectrum”

It has often struck me how often I talk to organisations who appear to have little regard for their logo and even less understanding of the process of creating a relevant and lasting marque. A logo is the foundation of any successful brand and engaging, impactful and effective logo design is the core to a successful corporate identity that accurately represents the values and activities of an organisation.

Superficially, designing a logo would appear to be quite a straightforward process with an idea scribbled on the back of an envelope and worked up to the finished item after an hour on the computer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Logo design is probably the most exacting discipline within the graphic design spectrum and producing a flexible, relevant, engaging and durable marque is a daunting challenge for even the best of designers. It’s true that many of the best logos appear simple, but that simplicity is achieved as a result of a deep understanding an organisation’s corporate values, the initiation of thought-provoking concepts, and the distillation of those concepts into a fully-functional element that works across the myriad of delivery platforms that a business needs to project itself to its audience. There are several areas to consider when creating a new logo and these are what we consider to be the main areas of consideration when building your new brand.

Reflecting your values

Identifying your organisation’s values and objectives is paramount before starting on the work. An early brainstorming meeting with your designer can help you develop this vital information into an accurate creative brief and maybe help you realise corporate attributes you didn’t realise you had. The quality of this brief is vital if you are to obtain an effective and engaging logo – the designer will not produce an effective solution working in an information vacuum. Include any information you feel is necessary about your company to give your designer the fullest picture possible.

The header image shows our design for Jo Squance’s Accountancy company. Having worked together in business for a long time, we were fortunate enough to know her company well and suitably positioned to produce a logo that adequately reflected her corporate values of trust, reputation, fiscal expertise, individuality and the personal touch.

In need of some refreshment?

If you have decided to change your logo a consideration might be to refresh the existing marque rather than go for a completely different approach. This will bring the design up-to-date whilst retaining the goodwill of the original design to its audience. This approach says “we are still the same organisation but we are continuing to evolve” – a strong message in a world where stability is in short supply. Involving a designer early in the process will help you make the correct decision as they will be able to advise on the strength of your current brand and its suitability for refreshing and developing.

One brand in regular need of refreshment (excuse the pun) is Starbucks. Since its foundation the company has undergone several transformations of its identity whilst retaining the mermaid, the core element of the logo. Starbucks is targeted at the youthful consumer and the idea of refreshing their identity from one generation to the next is apparently the strategy behind the execution. Remember, whilst some brands are successfully rejuvenated by a regular process of reincarnation this is not necessarily the right approach for every business.

Dedicated followers of fashion

If you do decide to change the design completely, do be wary of fashions in design. Remember the design mantra “Fashion follows form follows function”. In other words consider what the logo represents and what it has to achieve before introducing any decorative elements. The web is full of logo sites that sell off-the-shelf, trendy logos or promote the latest modes as the direction to take. Follow the superficial route and you could have a logo that does not function properly and therefore will not last. Within a short time you could be going through the whole rebrand process again as the design slowly unravels, revealing itself to be not fit-for-purpose. The design stage is not the time to cut corners and costs – you hopefully have to live with your logo for a long time!

We believe our design for start-up business The Cotswold Verandah Company has all the attributes necessary for longevity by utilising classic fonts and avoiding shallow imagery and gimmicks. A classic marque, free of trends and designed to last.

Synergy in application

Logos are not separate but integral to a broader corporate identity. How your logo is positioned to the other elements within your brand, shape its design. Logos need to be developed with variations in format and colour in mind in order to facilitate multiple application options. Effective logos should transfer seamlessly across different media and applications and be scalable down to small sizes whilst retaining clarity and impact.

Our logo for UCL’s Festival of Culture 2017 is good example of enabling variations in the use of the design elements of a logo. The circular symbol works either as a logo or a free-standing device that enables the use of a variety of positions, formats and sizes, yet still retains the overall feel of the identity. This flexibility is paramount if the design is to be used across multiple delivery platforms.

Keep it simple, keep it clean

Finally, in our view, the key element in a successful logo is simplicity. Simplicity enables clarity and legibility. Logos are applied in a variety of sizes and one must always bear this in mind during the process of logo design. How small can I go before the logo becomes illegible? Often the temptation is to try and cram too much into a logo, with multiple concepts and images, because there is so much to say and so little to say it with. However, doing so ignores the true purpose of a logo. Logos should be kept clean and simple in order to be recognisable, timeless and flexible.

A good example of a client who understood the value of simplicity and clarity in the application of logo design is Synolo. Not surprisingly they are designers themselves who wished to reflect the clarity and simplicity of their work as yacht designers by utilising the simplest of designs. We provided several options in a distinctive typographical style, the selected of which was pared down even further to leave a simple and strong marque.

If you feel that your logo isn’t an accurate reflection of your business or an effective element in your marketing strategy, why not get in touch with us? We would be only too happy to initially consult and advise on your existing branding on a pro bono basis.

This article was written by Paul Dibbens at Mustard Design – please feel free to get in contact

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