This is the second in a series of Branding posts drawn from my “Branding Made Simple” presentation at The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (Manitoba) Design for Business luncheon series. Part 1 is right here.
Elements of a logo
As we know, logos come in all shapes and sizes. However, common components (or elements) may include:
- Icon: Graphic element or mark
- Wordmark: The type treatment
- Tagline: A secondary descriptor or tagline / brand promise.
A logo does not necessarily have to include all 3 elements in combination though. In fact usually we see 2 of the 3, or even just a single component.
Icons present an abstract synopsis of the brand. In many cases, like Apple and Nike for example, icons evolve from more standard pairings of icons and wordmarks. Brands that can successfully hinge their identity on icons are often global in size, and have spent decades saturating the public memory. These are the big guys I’m talking about. New (or smaller) business should avoid this type of approach as once the icon has been removed form the wordmark, you immediately sacrifice mnemonic value and risk eroding what brand equity you may have already established.
Wordmarks typically use the company’s name to shape it’s logo. The advantage to this is immediate brand recognition. This principle benefits organizations large and small, as it is typically the easiest way to build your “name” brand. Of course one would look at Shoppers Drug Mart‘s logo and know you’re visiting a drug store. The same can’t be said for Staples. They too use a wordmark, but unless you’re familiar with the brand (And I’d assume most the the North American audience is), you may not necessarily know what they peddle.
The signature. Having 2 young children who have wide varying tastes in breakfast cereals, Kellog’s is a very common wordmark around our house. I’m a fan of this brand though – and not just because of it’s yummy offerings of sugar-coated oats. But also because Kellog’s serves as a shining example of brand identity success. The following comes from a came across this case study in David Airey’s Logo Design Love (Amazon affiliate link):
Keith (W.K.) Kellog invented wheat and corn flakes, which quickly led to breakfast cereal revolution, out of which developed an industry that still thrives today. However, Kellog had his fair share of competitors and rivals, most of which designed cereals that were near identical to his creations, right down to the packaging. So in 1906, Kellog got smart. He started branding all his cereal boxes with “Beware of imitations. Not genuine without this signature, W.K. Kellogg” And from that day, the Kellog signature —or wordmark — has remained mostly unchanged. This consistency is what makes Kellog’s one of the most trusted brands, some 105 years later.
This really is the over-arching concept behind a logo: Your company’s logo is it’s signature or it’s mark. It’s not a brand however, unless its on a cow.