Lately, we have been asked to develop new identities for many companies, products and projects. I am in the middle of reviewing many final logo options for one client today. This makes me think again about what makes a strong brand identity. Here are my thoughts on what to consider when developing each major element of a brand's identity system.
- It needs to be short and simple, generally having no more than three syllables.
- It must be easy to pronounce and spell.
- It should be distinctive.
- It is a plus if the name communicates something about the brand or the benefits the brand delivers.
- It needs to be available to protect legally via trademark.
- Some intuitive version of the URL must also be available. If it is, acquire the URL (and some of its more likely variations) immediately.
- An icon that reinforces the name and that is memorable is highly desirable.
- The type of logo and type fonts chosen must match/reinforce the feeling one intends to convey about the brand. So must the color palette. For instance, one logo we are developing must communicate hope and people thriving. Another must convey longevity, gravitas and security. The third one needs to be contemporary and hip.
- Consider what competitors' identity systems are like, but don't force yourself into a box that makes your system look like everyone else's.
- Be sure you know the primary uses before developing the identity system. For instance, how does it look on a business card, in the signature line of an email message, on the side of a building or on a ball cap?
- Given the primary uses, consider what the general shape of the logo needs to be. Is it square, horizontal, vertical or something else?
- How will the logo look in black and white? There will be occasions when it cannot be presented in its full palette of colors.
- Is the system flexible enough to be used in the widest variety of situations without compromising its recognition and recall?
- Sometimes we include a tagline as a part of the identity system. Taglines are useful in clarifying the product categories or brand benefits, especially when the name itself does not serve that function.
- Taglines need to be succinct, memorable and elegant, using an economy of words.
- If it is to be a part of the identity system, the tagline needs to be locked with the name and icon in a specific spatial relationship.
- You might offer options for using the logo with and without the tagline. If you do this, be specific about the circumstances under which you would include it or not.
One could write a whole book on this subject (and several people have), however these are my concise, top-of-mind thoughts on the topic of brand logos.
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