Sign - Symbol - Logo


A few  thoughts , about logo and corporate  identity by David Airey autor of "Logo Design Love"



"1. A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does

Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better.

The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an aeroplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer. Etc. Etc.

2. Not every logo needs a symbol

Sometimes a client just needs a professional wordmark to identify their business. Don’t be afraid to ask what they think.

3. Leave trends to the fashion industry

Trends come and go, and when you’re talking about changing a pair of jeans, or buying a new dress, that’s fine, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key."


These couple of  ideeas describe perfectly all what a  logo need to befit. In my opinion this truth can be the ars poetica of visual identity.

The power of simplicity


Don’t try to blend lots of details into the logo – look at it was a teaser to catch people’s eye, tempt them in and then inquire more.

   Avoid narrative cartoonish stuffs! A logo shouldn't tell a story, it does not need to describe your business in details. This is the bigger mistake what a starting company can commit, to choose something to "telling all" about their business.

Of course, there is some business fields which can be symbolized in an easy way. For example, is easy to choose a good logo for a pet shop.

   But what is happening when the business is much complex and cannot be approached literally? Let’s presuppose somebody starting a copper extracting and processing business. The logo needs to contain mining engines? Or hydraulic press controlled by a worker? No!!! ...this is the biggest mistake for a brand image.

   In this case it is recommended something abstract, first letter abbreviation, or just a personalized unique typography, but definitely not descriptive drawing. Just imagine, the Coca-Cola company with a logo which showing a smiling person who is drinking a brown liquid? This kind of visual approach would push the brand on a naive, cheap, unreliable level.

Powerfull brands...


There’s a reason Adidas, Apple are recognised worldwide – their logos are simple, striking and memorable.  Your business might not be as big as the mentioned one, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the basic rules of the Logo (Brand Image):

- Simple

- Original

- Memorable

- Iconic

- Trustworthy

- To be readable in small size

- To working perfectly in monochrome, B&W, Grayscale

- Timeless

- Functional

Cutted edge, Iconic logos - Start of success


Your logo is your identity and your visual identity is the sum of your company philosopy. Choose your logo carefully because that sign will characterize your business.


The first and most important thing to a logo is functionality. Many people beleve , her company  logo first of all must to be " eye catching " .This is absolutelly false. FedEx or DELL  logo have no wow effect ( I will be back to this "wow effect later ), Yet perfectly shall assume her task. Emphasize professionalism and working 100 % on any surface and any size. This functionality showing to potential client, you are serious, you are thrustworthy and your product or service is high quality.

 " My logo need to telling a story " ( the biggest mistake)


  The illustrative, cartoonish, storytelling logos...Those who belive her logo must to contain n+1 colours, multiple effects, and need a detaliated draw what will explain anything about  her company,  making a huge mistake. This kind of image ( I do not calling this a logo),just highlighting incompetence and a desperate atempt to apear reliable .


The, "less is more " statement is the biggest truth in visual identity. Is a much quoted  advice, but unfortunatelly just a few people understand her importance.


Illustrative logos characteristics:

- Ugly & kitsch

- Amateurish

- Doesent working in small size ( try to etching on the ring ...:) Technical incompetence

- Naive & unprofessional  - visual incompetence

- Lots of issues when printing -  just imagine this on a business card in 1 inch wide. No comment...

The 3D logos... the last couple of years we saw  thousands of 3D logos. The only question is, why companies like , Adidas, Nike, Apple, FedEx, Intel, AMD, SONY, DUFA, Johnie Walker, UBS, etc....never using  3D  logos ?

The reason is simple, because 3D multiple coloured logos doesent emphasize professionalism , more than that ,will not working in many multiplicating tehniques. Of course, those people who propose this kind of logo style, will never telling you about this issues.

Many people saying "WOW" how nice is but this sounds takes as long as he going on the printhose and try to print her business card....

And than will start  the annoying process of ..." please do something Mr. Print House because this is not good at all . Change what you need but please I want my logo to looking pro "

Usually in this case  Mr Print House advice is to keep just 2 colors and dropp all other effects .In the worst case he shrugs and telling to the client the ugly true  " this logo must to be redesigned.

The point is, a professional 2D( flat) logo can be transform in 3D any time, but vica versa  is much complicated  and all " nice stuff " what make the client to making  wow, will dissapear.

Swoosh or not to swoosh ?


Forget about "swoosh people" logos.

This kind of logos are  just overused cliches.We can see this shape selled by thousands of time

and the originality goes to 0. You can find this kind of image in every colour and every combination in any stock - art webpage , so this is a cheap and common sollution. Rather is not a sollution.

First step in company branding - The logo


The logo itself is not a brand yet, but it’s certainly one of the most important components of a brand. The graphical identity comprises all those visual elements, the sum of which will transform a business into a brand.


The name of company

The name will apear in multiple place with or without slogan or tagline. The name is that informational part which make the contact between product and your company. In all advertising surface and visual identity objects like company sign, businescards, leaflets, letterhead, CD-DVD cover, invitation card, package design, etc



The most defining part of the visual identity; there are several types, all of them with the same function: to embed itself into the memory af the potential client. In its classical form it has two distinct parts, the name and the icon.


The icon

Is a figurative or an abstract shape that is the symbol of the business or the product.

There are logos without icon, in which case standard or unique fonts are used.


Tagline or Catchphrase

A short phrase that’s supposed to depict a business’ philosophy in a weay that’s both concise and easy to remember.  Shapes: For instance, the shape of a MacBook pro laptop. One glance is enough and you know who made it.


Brand Colors

Those colors or color combinations that define a business, that are used in the different advertising matherials ( logo & font colors, used color to business card, folder and letterhead ,

base web color combination, company car or uniform , printed banner color combos etc


Font & Typografic chalange in visual identity

The use of a specific set of characters that further reinforces the uniqueness defined by the other elements. The character type can be an already existing, commercially available or freely downloadable set, but also an original creation. One can not emphassize enough that the most important aspect is readability. Overly artistic, overflourished fonts show rather poor quality and lack of seriousness. Even worse, they cannot be read in smaller sizes, so delving into artistry without proper typographical knowlegde is the biggest mistake one can commit. Some people think that the more they distort letters and the more they change their original shape, the result will be the more unique and memorable. This is one of the most serious mistakes regarding visual identity. The shapes and proportions of the letters didn’t get through the centuries to their actual form just by chance, so these should be subject to change only for very good reasons. Badly chosen letters (truncated, distorted, fit into different shapes) do not result in more artistic impression but in rather poor, amateurish workmanship.

Font Story


  Just for a fun fact, here’s my own experience: … I think it happened at my very first job interview, that they gave a test job to all aplicants. They were about 10 applicants from several age groups (18 to 45 years). We had to fit a word on a surface of predetermined size. We had to choose the fonts and the colors, and needless to say, we had countless fonts at our disposal. The time frame was five minutes and we were told that extra points will be given if we create more versions.

Obviously most people tried to use this aspect, and present the biggest number of versions they could come up with.

  I was astonished to hear that barely 3 minutes after we presented our work, 5 or 6 applicants were told “thanks, but you don’t fit our expectations”.  I didn’t understand it at that time, but later, during a discussion with the company’s art director, ha explained me why half of the applicants didn’t get through to the second round. The answer was: they distorted in order to fill out the shapes. I’ll try to quote what the artistic director told me:

“… one who’s not ready to dedicate the time necessary to find the proper character type for a given theme, but rather will distort an existing font, has no place in the graphical department of an advertising agency, moreover, such a person should not be entrusted with any kind of graphical job. The “more versions” phrase was only a trap, we wanted to see who’s taking such a bait. A well spotted font placed on the given shape is more than enough if it’s proportionate and readable. We use someone who’s working in conveyor-belt mode spurting out 10 character types and forces tham into the given shape.”

Abstract icon or  figurative logo mark ?


   I’d like to emphassize once more: it’s not an icon’s purpose to draw what a company is doing. Most starting businesses have this wrong expectation, like “ it should be seen that I’m bookkeeping, that I’m a physician or that I commercialize high pressure gas recipients…”

The icon and the logo is neither a cartoon nor a comic book. The icon is a symbol that in time will be identified with a product or a company.

  Another important thing is, that the logo/icon should not depict the product. There are products that can be very easily stylized, because their shape allows it and one can create a good quality icon that way, but in case of many products (in fact the majority of them) one shouldn’t force that.


Should a pharmacautical company use 50 pills of different shapes and colors?

Must a chemistry lab use a logo that’s ellenmayer alembic and test tube?

The electronic’s company needs in all cases printed circuitry? 


The "WOW effect" expression


Many times when a designer opens a brief, he or she meets the "wow effect” expression. This would not be a real problem as long as this expression provides any usefull information, but unfortunatelly often it’s just an expression coming from people who have absolutelly no ideea what they’re looking for. Is only an empty expression whichwith the real meaning: " I have no ideea what I need , but I expect 300 design versions and maybe I will choose something”.

According to big advertising agencies this kind of client dissapears in 85% of cases before the project is finished. Someone who is really interested will have an ideea about the product they’re looking for. Just imagine a person who’s going to buy a car telling the car dealer " I need something with wow effect... sporty?, classic? , offroad?, size?, motor  horse power? ,color?, consumption?, etc, etc , etc ..........I need information not empty expressions.

Believe it or not, this also applies to design.

Some people will say wow when they look at a 1952 Ford truck , but others are dazzled by a Bugatti Veyron. It’s all about is about taste but to understand someone’s desires

one needs information  not just some trendy, obscure and  meaningless formulation.

© 2012 - KAELGRAFI
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