Distinct aspects of a complete logo:
The uniqueness of a logo is often necessary to avoid confusion in the marketplace among clients, suppliers, users, affiliates, and the general public. To the extent that a logo achieves this objective, it may function as a trademark, and may be used to uniquely identify businesses, organizations, events, products or services. Once a logo is designed, one of the most effective means for protecting it is through registration as a trademark, so that no unauthorised third parties can use it, or interfere with the owner's use of it.
There are several elements of a good logo. An effective logo:
- Should be unique, and not subject to confusion with other logos among viewers
- Is functional and can be used in many different contexts while retaining its integrity
- Should remain effective whether reproduced small or large
- Can work in "full-colour", but also in two colour presentation (black and white), spot colour, or halftone
- Should be able to maintain its integrity when printed on various fabrics or materials (where the shape of the product may distort the logo)
- Displays basic design principles (space, colour, form, consistency, and clarity)represents the brand/company appropriately
Today there are many corporations, products, services, agencies and other entities using a sign or emblem as logo. As a result, only a few of the thousands of signs people are faced with are recognized without a name. It makes less sense to use a sign as a logo, even together with the name, if people will not duly identify it. Therefore, the trend in the recent years has been to use both images (icons) and the company name to emphasize the name instead of the supporting graphic portion, making it unique by its letters, colour, and additional graphic elements.
Sometimes a slogan is included in the logo. If the slogan appears always in the logo, and in the same graphic shape, it can be considered as part of the logo. In this case it is a brand slogan also called a claim, a tagline or an endline or a strapline in the advertising industry. The main purpose is to support the identity of the brand together with the logo. The difference between a slogan and a brand slogan is that brand slogan remains the same for a long time to build up the brand's image, while different slogans link to each product or advertising campaign.
Colour is important to the brand recognition, but should not be an integral component to the logo design, which would conflict with its functionality. Some colours are associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey. For instance, loud colours, such as red, that are meant to attract the attention of drivers on freeways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. In the United States red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with health foods, and light blue or silver is often used to reflect diet foods. For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate dependability, quality, relaxation, etc.
Colour is also useful for linking certain types of products with a brand. Warm colours (red, orange, yellow) are linked to hot food and thus can be seen integrated into many fast food logos. Conversely, cool colours (blue, purple) are associated with lightness and weightlessness, thus many diet products have a light blue integrated into the logo.
Logo design is commonly believed to be one of the most important areas in graphic design, thus making it the most difficult to perfect. The logo, or brand, is not just an image, it is the embodiment of an organization. Because logos are meant to represent companies and foster recognition by consumers it is counterproductive to redesign logos often.
When designing (or commissioning) a logo, practices to encourage are to:
- Avoid being over-the-top in an attempt to be unique
- Use few colours, or try to limit colours to spot colours (a term used in the printing industry)
- Avoid gradients (smooth colour transitions) as a distinguishing feature
- Produce alternatives for different contexts
- Design using vector graphics, so the logo can be resized without loss of fidelity
- Be aware of design or trademark infringements
- Include guidelines on the position on a page and white space around the logo for consistent application across a variety of media (a.k.a. brand standard manual)
- Do not use a specific choice clip-art as a distinguishing feature
- Do not use the face of a (living) person
- Do not use photography or complex imagery as it reduces the instant recognition a logo demands