Most company trade marks have some little visual trick that turns a type face into a distinctive logotype.
Of course, you could be designing a logo for a new, hi-tech company and you don’t want any hint of fuddy duddy tradition. Or, ‘fashionable’ might be an essential part of the image you are trying to portray. Fine!
Let’s look at the logos of some successful hi-tech companies and see what we can learn from those. Take Microsoft, IBM, Canon, Sony, Apple. They are all fairly simple, with the exception of Apple’s ‘apple’ symbol, all are just the name of the company written in a distinctive way.
‘Distinctive’ is the important factor here. These are not ordinary typefaces bought from Adobe or downloaded from a free font site on the Web. They have all been specially designed and hand-drawn so that they are NOT the same as any other typeface.
Microsoft has a fairly ordinary bold italic sans typeface, but the ‘o’ has a nick out of it making it more distinctive, recognisable and memorable. IBM has ‘scan lines’ running through a bold ‘Egyptian’ style font. Canon has a particularly distinctive initial ‘C’. Sony has what is probably the least distinctive type style of all these examples, an extended slab-serif, but the word itself is so unique it can get off with it. The choice of company and product titles is another very important factor, but I won’t go into that at the minute.
The Apple logo is the only one which has seen a recent change, albeit an evolutionary one where the rainbow stripes have been replaced by a single colour. The word Apple is written in an ordinary typeface, a derivative of Garamond, designed way back in the sixteenth century!
None of these logos are what you might call ‘fashionable’. Apple’s rainbow stripes were, but have given way to a more classical approach. In doing so, the logo has lost some of its distinctiveness but it was clearly dating the company’s image and that is undesirable for a company wanting to appear to be innovative.
Trendy, graphically fashionable logos are okay for companies or products that are ephemeral. Graphic styles, like clothes, go in and out of fashion all the time. Obviously, it wouldn’t make much sense to design a logo for a computer company using an Art Deco typestyle because it gives all the wrong signals. On the other hand, flying in the face of convention is more likely to provide a unique, creative answer than by repeating the same popular images as everyone else.
This is where design gets really interesting.
There are certain ‘visual vocabularies’ - clichés, if you like - associated with every discipline you can think of. Look through Yellow Pages and you will see thousands of them - stars, stripes, chefs' hats, wooden spoons, chickens. In logo design, clichés are counter productive. Instead of making your logo look unique, they are confusing it with every other one that uses the same visual idea. In fact, using such a device makes the company look run-of-the-mill and cheap. But, take a cliché and give it a twist, use it out of context or in a different way, and you will have given your logo something that people will remember.
There is very little value in copying somebody else’s logo - unless you deliberately want to look like a me-too. A logo should ideally be as different from every other one as you can possibly make it. It should also communicate something about the company or product other than just its name. You have an opportunity to add some additional values subliminally through your choice of typeface and colour.
Most corporate logos need to work across a wide spectrum of usage situations - signage, stationery, packaging, promotional items and mainstream advertising. They probably require different sizes and versions for different applications too - a full colour version on the front of the company’s annual report or notepaper and a gold-leaf or etched glass version that works on the main entrance door.
If it appears on television, the logo could be animated, and there is always the give-away, printed balloons!
Designing a logo today means that it will probably be used on the Web. In fact, the Web could well be its main expression and print of little or no consideration. A logo designed for Web use has to take into account that it will be displayed at a small size, in relatively low resolution and possibly with a restricted colour palette. If designing a logo specifically or primarily for the Web, you should start with Web safe colours, not Pantone or ink colours. It is easier to match printing ink to Web safe colours than the other way around.
Rather than resize a large master to every conceivable size, try to make do with two or three fixed sizes and optimise those by hand. Get rid of any unnecessary anti-aliasing on vertical and horizontal strokes. This will make the logo look crisper and reduce file size slightly.
About Com4tzon application
The development of the Danish Com4tzon application has been stopped. You can find information about the application and download its archived versions on third-party websites on the Internet.
Send your suggestions and comments to email@example.com