|16: Teaching Support | Design and Cultural Studies|
|Week 3: Logos and Branding
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What is a logo?
A logo is an icon, image or arrangement of text that represents the important values and qualities of a company or a product.
Logos have been in use for as long as merchants and traders have existed. Historically, their use can be traced back for many hundreds of years.
A logo should be distinctive and instantly recognisable, remaining in the mind of anyone who sees it.
eg potential customers and clients.
When we see a logo, ideally it should be aspirational, inspiring a number of responses in a viewer.
• Trust in the company/product it represents.
• A feeling that the company/product is dynamic ie full of energy / moving forwards etc
• A feeling of loyalty towards that company/product
• Admiration for the company/product and what it stands for
The sections below are from the logos/packaging of well known brands.
Designing a Logo
Graphic Designers are very often asked to create logos for companies and products. Logo design is actually one of the most common kinds of project on which a graphic designer will be asked to work.
To design a commercially effective logo you need to have a thorough understanding of the company or product that the logo is to represent. If you do not do enough research at the beginning you will find it hard to create an appropriate design. You could end up making a logo that looks nice but which is entirely wrong for its subject.
If you were designing a logo for a company it would be helpful to first ask the following questions -
• Who is the company?
• What is significant about the company?
• What makes the company stand out from its competitors?
• What are its core values and messages?
• What service is being offered by the company and what cost is involved?
• Who is the company's audience and what is important to them?
The answers to these questions help to establish the right 'language' and 'tone of voice' to use when developing a design.
1 Word Marks (also known as 'Logo Types.')
Sometimes a designer will draw new and original letterforms to create a Word Mark, instead of relying on preexisting fonts. Symbolic shapes (sometimes called 'accents') can replace or appear alongside letterforms.
Some years ago, the Robert Gordon University commissioned a design studio based in Glasgow called Graven Images to redesign its corporate identity.
2 Logos based on symbols
A symbolic logo is a shape which represents a company or product. Symbolic logos tend to be simple but at the same time also bold and dynamic. Vey often they use a single flat colour as opposed to a number of colours and so are easier to remember.
• The Nike 'Swoosh' is a famous example and was originally designed in the 1970s.
The early designs incorporated the word 'Nike' along with the curved shape below it. This shape was originally referred to as the 'Stripe' but later became known as the Nike 'Swoosh.'
The 'Swoosh' shape is a very powerful symbol for Nike.
Nowadays, Nike recognise that when people see it, they immediately think of the word 'Nike' anyway, and so now do not always need to include the word 'Nike' as part of their branding.
After thirty years the 'Swoosh' symbol = Nike!
This is only possible because Nike have been in business for so long and their products, advertising and branding have made such a strong impact on the public. When we see the distinctive symbolic 'Swoosh' shape, we immediately think of the name of the company.
• Apple (or Apple Computer Inc as it was known until 2007) was named after the story of Sir Isaac Newton as he sat underneath an apple tree. (An apple falls on his head and this gives rise to his theory of gravity.)
The original logo was originally meant to suggest knowledge, understanding and perhaps also to symbolise new ideas and creativity. It references the Biblical story of Adam and Eve who took a bite (byte!) from an apple which fell from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.
It looks similar to a woodcut and has a very individual 'home grown feel.' It somehow seems very suitable for a small computer company which began in a garage with just 3 employees.
By logo design standards today the design above looks busy and complicated - very different to the more corporate versions Apple used in later years.
The version above was used from 1976 to 1999. Apple was the first computer company not to make use of its name as part of its logo. This link shows an early Apple advertisement making use of the multicoloured Apple branding. http://www.fizbang.com/i/apple/a-for-apple.jpg
As part of its brand identity, Apple tries to promote itself as being about creativity, informality and individuality.
This is a famous Apple television advertisement inspired by George Orwell's '1984' a story about the life of its central character Winston Smith and his life in the totalitarian country of Oceania.
Sometimes the logo or brand identity of one company will be 'subverted' or parodied by another.
This is an advert for the US Senator Barack Obama as part of his US Presidential campaign. It replaces the face of authority with Hilary Clinton and adapts a previous version of the Apple logo to appear as an 'O' for 'Obama.'
The link below shows a few examples of Apple's 'Think Different' advertising campaign, used in the late 1990s.
(This campaign was in response to a previous slogan used by Apple's competitor IBM - 'Think.')
The logos above show two present day incarnations of the Apple logo which reflect the appearance of the Apple OS X Operating System.
The link below shows examples of Apple's current US television adverts.
This advertising campaign has been adapted to fit different regions and nationalities.
Below is a link to the similar advertisements but for a UK audience.
Brands can become so successful they affect our culture in unexpected ways.
People have become so accustomed to Apple's iPod brand that it is now almost impossible to think of the word 'pod' without thinking of Apple's iPod product. In this sense, Apple have unintentionally 'annexed' the word 'pod' so that its dictionary definition has now become almost secondary to their product.
3 Logos based on initials
Landor Associates were responsible for creating the most recent version of the BP identity.http://www.landor.com/?do=cPortfolio.getCase&caseid=322
BP originally stood for British Petroleum. This is how the BP logo looked between 1989 and 2000.
IBM stands for International Business Machines Corporation and its history can be traced back as far as the 1800s!
The letters 'IBM' were first used as the company's logo in 1947 and their blue colour may have led to the company nickname 'Big Blue.'
In 1956, the logo was updated by a graphic designer called Paul Rand, and then again in 1972.
The 1972 version avoids solid colour so it would reproduce well on 1970s photocopiers.
An early IBM poster using pictograms from the early 80s by Paul Rand
Paul Rand in an Apple Think Different advert
4 Channel Four
The original Channel 4 logo was created by a design studio called Lambie-Nairn.
(who also designed the BBC News 24 and O2 identities)
The logo was made of nine three dimensional coloured blocks and was used between 1982 and 1996.
It represented the idea of Channel 4 uniting different strands as a publisher and broadcaster.
Between 1982 and 1996, the logo was animated in a variety of different ways.
Over the years, the Channel Four logo became very well established and at one point was parodied by Hamlet cigars.
The company changed its broadcasting style in the early 1990s, concentrating on a fringe mainstream audience. It updated its 'look' accordingly but retained the original structure of the number four made from blocks.
The current series of Channel 4 stings appearing between programs continue to use the original number four constructed from blocks. However the use of the identity has evolved significantly since 1982 but still refers back to the original design.
BBC TV identies
5 Cif / Jif / Vim
Cif is a brand of cleaning products owned by Unilever.
At different times and in different countries it has been known as Cif, Jif and Vim.
This difference is due to ease of pronunciation for people in different countres speaking different languages.
6 Branding for food
Store brands (also known as 'Own brands')
Supermarkets sometimes sell cheaper versions of big name brands.
These sometimes take visual 'cues' from established, related brands.
The store brand bottle of cola below refers visually to the Coca-Cola brand by using red and white colours on its label and top.
Colours can have strong associations for certain products.
Salt and Vinegar crisps have traditionally been blue.
Cheese and Onion crisps have traditionally been green.
However, Walkers do the reverse.
Innocent Fruit Drinks
Innocent Drinks are based in the UK and make smoothie fruit drinks. Their drinks are sold internationally and the brand currently dominates the UK smoothie market. Innocent maintain their drinks will always be healthy and make use of pure ingredients.
Innocent say "...anything Innocent will always taste good and do you good. We promise we'll never use concentrates, preservatives, stabilisers, or any weird stuff in our drinks." Labels on the reverse of the bottles tend to be humorous and cleverly written and help to reinforce the 'story' behind the brand.
They were founded in 1999 and the 'legend' surrounding the brand is that the founders developed recipes for smoothies and then sold drinks from a stall at a London music festival. They asked people whether they should leave their jobs to start their drinks business and asked people to put the empty bottles in 'yes' and 'no' bins as indication of their answer. By the end of the festival the 'yes' bin had many more bottles in it than the 'no' bin and so Innocent fruit drinks was founded.
Innocent give 10% of their profits to charity and the company itself is also registered as a charity.
9 Good resources
10 Gestalt Principles
Gestalt Psychology involves theories about visual perception which were developed in Germany in the 1920s.
The fundamental theory is that the mind attempts to organise and make sense of visual information when it is presented to us. A familiarity with these ideas can be helpful to a designer in producing logos which will be visually effective.
• This is known as 'Pragnanz' (the German word for 'consciousness') and is fundamental to Gestalt perception.
• The four key principles of Gestalt theory are emergence, reification, multistability and invariance.