Logos are tricky.

Logos are illustrative

Logos are not random designs. In addition to the colorful artwork, they are also a message to consumers. They are brand identity. Logos are the first thing most people will interact with in your company.

Logos tell a story in a succinct, but important way. Users infer a lot from the logo. It provides a recognizable visual for all platforms digital and physical. It is a conduit for shared ideas and relationships between the consumer and the organization. It is the representation of everything the organization stands for and is the face of the company in lieu of a mascot.

Packing all that into a small area can be difficult. The two biggest concerns are the small amount of area to work with and choosing what values are the most important to showcase. To address the first condition you must know the second. You only have room for one, maybe two values in a logo, so choose wisely. This will be the focal message you are sending to your customers. You want them to relate and understand what your company represents to draw them in. Below are some well known logos that have been refined over the years , yet retain the message.

Some popular logos

These logos all convey a message: Freshness, fun, trust and quality. Those values are important for the legacy of each business. We may not realize the message immediately, but over time our familiarity with the brand grows and the core value is reinforced in our mind. Of course these brands are way to familiar to us. If we had never seen them before we might not know what Mercedes-Benz or Starbucks sells. Their logos don’t really say. If we look at their original look, we will see how their message was conveyed and retained throughout the years.

The evolution of two popular brand logos.

In the beginning, both brands used text to help provide their value to customers. Burger King always retained a burger shape in its logo and Starbucks included their signature service in the border. After so many years, the logos were refined into simple artwork with primary brand colors and an immediate visual identity. Both have been around a long time and earned their reputation though. The value is repeatable and relatable.

Searching the internet, you will find many company logos that have a value or message that is hard to parse by their logo alone. Some rely on fancy artwork or using the company name. These ones usually lack a message and aren’t as memorable. There needs to be something to relate or identify with. Consumers are looking for the human connection with the brand or just something memorable.

Does everything need a logo to be successful? No, some organizations do just fine without. Insurance companies and IKEA probably don’t need one. We can all think of a few other examples of unneeded logos. Maybe they have a strong presence like Coca-cola where all they need is the color red or, like an insurance agency, is a necessity that you would seek out anyway. For the rest, logos are your intro to the brand value. Like a value statement without the words.

What story does your logo tell? If you show it to people, can they pull a value or message from the art? If it was on the side of a building, would consumers understand what you are selling? If not, it might be time to think about what you want to convey. Is it time for a rethink of the design or an update. Starbucks left their traditional brown logo coloring behind for a more dramatic green that represented their values better. A little change can be good.

Some other considerations of your design might include the name of the company, their industry or market, how long they have been around, is this a redesign or entirely new? Taking all these things into consideration… it might be a good idea to just start with some general sketches to get some loose ideas. This is a good idea for difficult to identify values. Think about your initial impressions about this company. Sketch them out, see what makes sense. Sometimes those surface level ideas are guides to how the public views this company. Your preconceptions are valid ideas to use in the design. Later you can refine them or test them before setting them in stone. Find what resonates with you, then with other people.

Find that human connection in your brand. Start from within and expand to others for validation. You will come to find the process meaningful and fun in the end. It will also give you a clearer picture of your brand mission or simplify it.

A UX Designer in a UX Designer world