The logo, keystone of your corporate identity

 
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To communicate ... This is a buzzword, but also a nightmare and a challenge for all leaders today! Is being known and recognized by the largest number of people, a sweet dream then? Definitely not if one begins by building an effective visual identity. And guess what is essential? The logo of course!

You said "logo"?

Communicate effectively: an ancestral wish

Do you know that, in some way, you share the same concerns as the Roman legions and the rulers of the Middle Age? Sounds impossible, if somewhat grotesque ... And yet ...

It was already question in those early days, of recognition and identification in largely illiterate societies, question answered by the development of heraldry in establishing a coherent and codified system. Etendards and other emblems, unique emblems, are then imposed equally as identity symbols than as identifiable symbols. Subsequently, this practice will spread to cities, regions, countries and guilds.

It is then easy to understand the shift that occurs in the nineteenth century with the industrial revolution. From trades to manufacturing, there is just one step that manufacturers cross cheerfully, wishing to customize their production. Simply starting by displaying a badge or symbol on their products, they quickly went on to add their name too. The logo, or more precisely the logotype was born. By the way, do you know what that word really means?

Enter the inner circle ...

Let’s us briefly call upon the purists ... By the term logotype one means the name of an entity, such as Caisse d'Epargne, written in a special typographic design. The graphical representation in this case cited - the squirrel -is actually a badge. Probably by convenience rather than by abuse of language, these two concepts were eventually united under the name logo. Here is finally restored a truth too often ignored!

However, it seems necessary to go beyond the strict sense of the definition logo, to give it a little more openness and variation to better reflect its true versatility (purist friends, skip the next paragraph!).

The logo version melting pot

In fact, a logo is both a symbol, emblem, badge and, ideally, an ideogram.
An acronym as it should display the name or initials of the entity it represents.
An emblem because it is a unifying standard for men, values​​, places, companies or products.
A badge because it is the graphical illustration of the concept to convey.
An ideogram because ultimately it aims to become the generic term for this concept.

A logo yes, but a good one!

How to judge the quality of a logo is far from being obvious. A logo is like a suit, we must love it and feel comfortable with it. But the aesthetic and emotional choice is purely subjective. Therefore, it cannot and should in no way be an exclusive criteria of selection. Because a good logo is above all an effective logo and the effectiveness objectively based on some essential qualities:

The originality

You are unique, your logo too! It must therefore distinguish itself as much as possible to stand out among its peers. So while it is tempting to reassure yourself by complying with existing models,   be cautious in fact to avoid generalisation and to blend into the crowd of …competitors!

The relevance

A logo that corresponds perfectly to the product, service or company seems obvious to you? And you're right! However, if from a graphic point of view logic can easily been applied (I would seem obvious that no one would use a "technical" logo for an eighteenth century doll museum ...), it is not so easy when you have  to ​​convey values ...

The seduction

A logo should challenge, catch the eye. This expression is in fact particularly suitable since a logo is primarily a visual stimulation. But the vision is always an interpretation of the brain. This means that the logo is perceived before being seen. It would be a mistake to think that it only shows coldly an image, idea or a concept. For individuals, by their culture, their experience and learning, associate to images and therefore to logos, values ​​and emotions. Take for example these caricatures; they give us a good idea of ​​the process of creating a logo and the power it can take:

Caricatures

With a few relevant strokes of pencils we have gathered under your eyes Charlot, General de Gaulle, Napoleon and Hitler. Each of these graphics generates a reaction that definitely goes beyond the simple vision of design: it is no longer forms that can be seen but the values ​​associated with each character which is perceived. If Chaplin and Hitler convey universal values, the perception however associated with these two historical figures will be different in France or in Europe and almost void anywhere else in the world.

Whatever the method used (humor, elegance, extravagance ...), a logo must create emotion to attract attention, the aim being that this emotion is positive. Nobody would for example think of using the swastika as a symbol for a company or a product, the emotional content and the values ​​associated with this graphic are highly negative. Be careful with double meanings and other ambiguities of all kinds.

Simplicity

A logo is not a picture, let alone a comic! There must be a synthesis of the values ​​of the company that it represents. As you have already seen in the previous paragraph, the whole job is to make a caricature that is to extract in a few lines the differentiating characteristics of the entity or founding concept.

Concise graphic, significant level of abstraction or stylization and oversimplification of the color code are therefore required (which means for the designer to have, among other things, a strong background in design ...). You can see yourself, that IT does not do everything. So do not be fooled by the "tricks" of shading for example whose sole purpose is to make the graphics more "sexy": the logo must be able to live without. Otherwise, there is a good chance it will not have a strong enough identity ... Remember that complexity puzzles people when simplicity reassures. Besides it greatly increases the strength and impact of the logo. Attention simple does not mean simplistic, quite the contrary!

Immediate recognition

Respecting and applying the preceding rules are the guarantors of an effective and successful anchoring in the memories. But memorizing does not mean being able to reproduce. Just to prove it : you can recognize people without knowing how to do a portrait of them! The same goes for a logo: its recognition must be immediate. For example, are you able to redesign the logo of Carrefour hypermarkets? Probably not. If you were asked to describe the main features of the graphic what would you draw? Arrows, square, colors? How many would draw a "C" in a square? No matter because what counts in the end is that we all recognize this logo as soon as we see it!

The modularity

A good logo retains its identity, its strength and its integrity however it is used: in color, monochrome or grayscale, enlarged or reduced, it must remain fully functional. Qualities of flexibility, adaptability thus allow:

  • To apply it on a variety of materials and media (business cards, letter-head, purchase orders, invoices, packaging, POS, media screens, uniforms, accessories, facade, ...). It is therefore important to develop a graphic chart dictating precisely its use in all circumstances.
  • Possible cultural adaptation if it is intended to be used internationally.
  • The timelessness of a name which thus survives all modes and goes through the years without losing its relevance. It capitalizes then on the perception and reputation, imposing itself gradually in the collective memory.

The designer will listen to you

To know and apply the six previous criteria is not enough to make a good logo. Always keep in mind that as brilliant as he may be, the designer cannot do without you since you are the first source of information!

It is therefore essential that you be an active partner, for the success and effectiveness of your logo also depend on your brief. Even if these recommendations seem superfluous or trivial to you, a designer worthy of the name, will absolutely need the following information:

  • the name of the company or product brand,
  • the business of the company or the type of product,
  • the values ​​of the company or the product,
  • the services and the benefits to the user,
  • elements of differentiation,
  • the target audience,
  • the geographical commercial area

Feel free to also mention all ideas of concepts that have crossed your mind. However, considerations such as "I like a particular logo", "I do not like the green" or "I want a logo like Renault’s" do not bring any constructive information concerning your own logo and eventually can even blur the message.

And do not be afraid of being pushed around! In essence, a good logo is innovative ... so disturbing because it does not look like anything you have ever seen. But if you choose a designer it means that you trust him.

So enjoy the surprise if any. Take time to get acquainted with the proposals he is making to you. Post them in a place that allows you to see them several times a day and wait for a good week before you decide. Ask the people involved. Finally, keep in mind that Phil Knight, founder of Nike, after refusing several versions of logos said in 1971 about the current logo: "I do not like it, but we will grow together.". So you see ...

Your logo to the test

You finally have your logo project in hand and you're curious to test its quality? In addition to the few tips we have given you, here are four simple small but unstoppable evaluation tests. Let's play and who knows, maybe you're the new Phil Knight?

Technical strength test

In black and white (if the version exists, otherwise make a copy in black and white), reduced it to a few centimeters or enlarged it to A3, does your logo still maintain its identity? Do you still recognise it?

Place it in the middle of a page full of text. How much space is needed around your logo so that it does not seem to be bothered by the surrounding text? If this is more than half the size of your logo, it is too complex.

Remember that the field of “smart” human vision (or foveal vision, which is the area in which one is able to read it) is a small horizontal area with a ratio of 4 by 3. A logo will be best perceived as it comes closer to these proportions.

Differentiation test

Set in between your competitors’ logos (four to six) of the same relative size, does your logo catch the eye, or does it look more or less the same than the competitors?

Repeat the same test with versions in black and white.

Instantaneous recognition test

Describe the main graphic features of your logo: an object, shapes, colors ... Is what you have actually chosen building an identity?

Decryption test

What does your logo make you think of? Is it positive or negative? Is the concept valuing or restrictive? Is it perfectly in keeping with the identity of your company or your product?

If a logo needs to be decrypted, in other words if its design is not obvious, it will not be remembered: abandon it. Warning, it should be obvious. For example, it is the simple spiral shape of National Parks’ logo that will be chosen and certainly not the complex tangle of plants and animals which composes it and which moreover is not clearly seen in sizes of commonly used.

Now you have chosen your logo and validated it. But as says Christian Delorme in his book The Logo, "regardless of the success of the graphic of the logo and its functional qualities, the expected results depend mainly on the volume and distribution’s methods, of the communication’s means used and of the graphic design of the informational media. "You know what you have to do ...

Ready to communicate now?

For this is, do not forget, your initial challenge: to communicate ... The best example of this is undoubtedly that of Coca Cola: on the strength of its logo. The famous brand has crossed the twentieth century without a wrinkle, conquered all continents and continues to be declined in all conceivable media!

However, now who would accept a typography “ good all days” for a product wanting to remain aside of fashion and aimed primarily at young people?

We must understand that in this case, it is precisely the mass media that has transformed a "default" into a quality: thanks to its advertising campaigns on a large scale, Coca Cola has managed to associate the values ​​of youth and dynamism to its logo that does absolutely not symbolises it graphically. This is a typical example of an "idéogrammisation" of the logo. This transfer process may be repeated with any logo, object or concept as long as the company has the means of communication in this order of magnitude…

And indeed, not everyone can be a Coca Cola! But whatever your ambitions, your logo will only produce its full force, only if it is the applied onto the maximum of media and materials: business cards, company vehicles, POS or other means, provided that you are visible! So if your graphic chart is ready ... SHOW YOURSELF!