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Lead the way, love­ly logo


Ryan Tay­lor

Choos­ing the right logo for your com­pa­ny is half the bat­tle. Scratch that: the first, and most impor­tant bat­tle, one that will affect every­thing that comes after it. Of all the things you do when you set up a com­pa­ny — or make sub­stan­tive changes to an exist­ing one, such as when rebrand­ing — logo design is almost always at the top of your list of to-dos. Although it’s easy to rush on and think it’s a mat­ter for a lat­er date, or some­thing that needs but a cur­so­ry approach, with­out a logo — with­out a great logo — you can’t start any­thing else. Think about it. You can’t send invoic­es. You can’t set up a web­site. You can’t cre­ate mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als. You can’t build recog­ni­tion. You can’t share busi­ness cards — although in 2022, who is doing this any more, hon­est­ly — but you get the point. With­out a logo, your com­pa­ny has no brand and no iden­ti­ty. Your com­pa­ny is unidentifiable.

No pres­sure.

Though you may not know it, not all logos are born equal. The ones you’re most like­ly famil­iar with, are, to get all tech­ni­cal about it: _​logomarks_​. A logo­mark is a sym­bol, or icon, that rep­re­sents a com­pa­ny. Think Apple, McDonald’s, or Nike, and you’re on your way — a fruit, arch­es, and a tick. The oth­er is a _​logotype_​, which, you guessed it, is made up of type, or rather, let­ters or words. Think Net­flix, Ama­zon, or Coca-Cola.

Some com­pa­nies use a com­bi­na­tion of both, and some employ one or the oth­er. There are advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages to all the per­mu­ta­tions, with some work­ing bet­ter in some sit­u­a­tions than oth­ers. For exam­ple, a logo­mark (that’s the sym­bol one), is more com­pact, and more recog­nis­able — at least even­tu­al­ly — and may seem _​more fun_​or _​more creative_​, giv­en visu­als are open to all man­ner of styles, for­mats, and treat­ments. Con­verse­ly, a logo­type (that’s the word one), instant­ly tells you the name of the com­pa­ny, which helps with brand recog­ni­tion — at least in the begin­ning — and often feels more pro­fes­sion­al, cor­po­rate, or inten­tion­al. Of course, as with every rule, it can be bro­ken, and there is plen­ty of crossover and places where these gen­er­al­i­sa­tions don’t apply. You know, just in case it wasn’t com­pli­cat­ed enough already.

Logo design — as the cor­ner­stone of brand recog­ni­tion and brand iden­ti­ty — is inte­gral to the suc­cess of your com­pa­ny. Logos, such as those asso­ci­at­ed with the com­pa­nies already men­tioned, are so pow­er­ful, so full of mean­ing and val­ue, that they feel part of the **fab­ric of soci­ety**. Instant recog­ni­tion, instant under­stand­ing of val­ues, qual­i­ty, and use­ful­ness. And that, my friends, is the crux of the matter.

Icon­ic brands — icon­ic com­pa­nies — start­ed like every­body else. They didn’t sim­ply appear one day through an act of god. No, they start­ed — like every com­pa­ny does— with a neat idea, and a pas­sion to bring it to life. Like your com­pa­ny. And ours. And I’m not say­ing for one minute their choice of logo made them suc­cess­ful in and of itself — that would be ludi­crous. What I am say­ing is that a well-craft­ed logo is short­hand for the heart of your com­pa­ny: it’s ethics, its val­ues, its goals, its aspi­ra­tions, its every­thing that a cus­tomer would want to know. You see a logo, and if it’s doing its job, you can instant­ly com­ment on all of those things. It’s as if you just know it*.

Like a par­ent, your logo car­ries con­sid­er­able respon­si­bil­i­ty, and it con­tributes unequiv­o­cal val­ue to the life of your com­pa­ny. It may be only an image, per­haps just a shape, or even a hum­ble word, but it’ll be a deci­sion that influ­ences all future decisions.

* The only instance where this doesn’t seem to apply is with artists and their album cov­ers. Have you ever noticed how often the brand ele­ments on an album cov­er for the exact same artist are dif­fer­ent on an almost per-album basis? Have a look at your favourites, you’ll see what I mean. Baffling.

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