Interesting how things evolved…


The origin of logotypes goes back to the 19th century, when industrial manufacture of products became important. The new industrial procedures allowed a much higher output than that of the former handmade products. The new products were distributed in large geographical areas, even nationwide. New competitors appeared from time to time, and the offer of products of a same kind increased notably. At that time, a significant part of the population was still illiterate. The industrial leaders became soon aware that the public would not easily differentiate their product from the same product of their competitors. More and more manufacturers began therefore to include a symbol, sign, or emblem on their products, labels and packages, so that all the buyers could easily recognize the product they wanted.

The manufacturers later began to add the name of the company or of the product to their sign. The name being shaped often in a specific way by each manufacturer, these combined logotypes, which for the first time included sign and name, became extremely popular. During many decades, when a new logo was being designed, owners, advertising professionals, and graphic designers always attempted to create a sign or emblem which, together with the name of the company, product, or service, would appear as a logotype.

Logos today

Today there are so many corporations, products, services, agencies and other entities using a sign or emblem as logotype that many have realized that only a few of the thousands of signs people are faced with are recognized without a name. The consequence is the notion that it makes less sense to use a sign as a logotype, even together with the name, if people will not duly identify it. Therefore, the trend in the recent years has been to use both logos and names, and to emphasize the design of the name instead of the logotype, making it unique by its letters, color, and additional graphic elements. Examples of well-designed logos and logotypes are available in competitive design annuals.

Emblems will sometimes will grow in popularity, especially across areas with differing alphabets; for instance, a name in the Arabic language would be of little help in most European markets. A sign or emblem would keep the general proprietary nature of the product in both markets. In non-profit areas, the Red Cross is an example of an extremely well known emblem which does not need a name to go with, though in Muslim countries it is the Red Crescent.

Logo design

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.

A good logo:

* is unique, and not subject to confusion with other logos among customers
* is functional and can be used in many different contexts while retaining its integrity
o should remain effective reproduced small or large
o can work in “full-color”, but also in two color presentation (black and white), spot color, or halftone.
o may be able to maintain its integrity printed on various fabrics or materials (where the shape of the product may distort the logo)
* abides by basic design principles of space, color, form, consistency, and clarity
* represents the brand/company appropriately

Color is important to the brand recognition, but should not be an integral component to the logo design, which would conflict with its functionality. Some colors are associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey (e.g. Loud colors, such as red, that are meant to attract the attention of drivers on freeways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. Red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with health foods.)

For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate dependability, quality, relaxation, etc.

Color is also useful for linking certain types of products with a brand. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) are linked to hot food and thus can be seen integrated into many fast food logos. Conversely, cool colors (blue, purple) are associated with lightness and weightlessness, thus many diet products have a light blue integrated into the logo.

When designing (or commissioning) a logo, practices to encourage are:

* use few colors, or try to limit colors to spot colors (a term used in the printing industry)
* avoid gradients (colors that transition from dark to light/light to dark) as a distinguishing feature
* produce alternatives for different contexts
* design using vector graphics, so the logo can be resized without loss of fidelity (Adobe Illustrator is one of the main programs for this type of design work; open source programs like Inkscape are emerging as excellent free alternatives)
* be aware of design or copyright 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 of third-party font or clip-art as a distinguishing feature
* do not use the face of a (living) person
* avoid photography or complex imagery as it reduces the instant recognition a logo demands
* avoid culturally sensitive imagery, such as religious icons or national flags, unless the brand is commited to being associated with any and all connotations such imagery may evoke

There are essentially three kinds of logos:

* Combination (icon plus text )
* Logotype/Wordmark/Lettermark (text or abbreviated text)
* Icon (symbol / brandmark)


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