Prior to the digital revolution, it wasn’t much of a challenge for companies to choose unique logos that were different from others in their industry. While there was always some overlap in imagery, logos were still hand drawn. Originality was the norm.
In today’s world of digital marketing and design, it has become more difficult than ever before to stand out. Companies that would have previously competed only with others in their geographical area now find that they must cope with competition on a global scale.
With logos more widely seen than ever before – and the accessibility of digital design tools – it is essential for today’s companies to look beyond the obvious and find a design that helps to differentiate them from their competition.
How Logo Design Has Changed
Let’s begin by talking about how logo design has changed over the years. While the basic idea of logo design is the same, both the methodology and marketing preferences have changed substantially.
Early Logo Design Methodology
As mentioned earlier, the first company logos were designed and drawn by hand. Everything started to change in 1969 with the invention of the computer. By 1984, Apple had released the first Macintosh computer featuring bitmap graphics.
Gradually, logo designs changed. As graphic designers embraced new technology, they began using it to create logos. While some designer still prefer hand drawing, today, any good logo designer must keep digital requirements in mind to be successful.
As logo design has evolved, so too has marketing. At first, marketing was either done in person or in writing. Print advertising with the standard for everybody.
As time passed and technological advances became commonplace, marketing kept up with the changes. First companies added radio advertising to their marketing mixes, then television advertising. But perhaps the biggest change of all has been the rise of the web and the move to digital marketing.
Online marketing poses challenges and opportunities for companies who do it. It’s easier than ever to connect with audiences using sophisticated targeting methods. However, it’s also harder than ever before to separate from the competition and make sure that your voice – and your brand – are seen in the ever-rising sea of competitors.
Changes in Logo Preferences
Logo preferences have changed with the times, too. Digital marketing requires certain logo elements that simply weren’t a concern with print or television marketing.
One of the biggest trends we have seen in logo preferences is the trend toward simplicity. We have written on this blog about how companies such as Target, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola have simplified and refined their logos over the years. As a refresher, here’s a look at the old and new Starbucks logos:
You can see that the new logo is far more streamlined and straightforward than the old one. It’s easier to take in and yet still instantly recognizable as being the Starbucks logo because it is a direct descendant of the original logo.
Qualities of an Effective Digital Logo
What are the qualities of an effective digital logo? It’s important to know so you can make the best possible choice for your company. Remember that your logo is likely to be the very first thing that a potential customer sees.
The first hallmark of an effective digital logo is simplicity. As mentioned earlier, many large companies have made a distinct and obvious move toward simplicity with their logos.
Some of the things companies do to simplify their logos include streamlining fonts, shapes, and images. Here’s an example of a minimalistic logo we designed for a real estate company:
Note the way our designers incorporated the simple house shape into the name of the company.
The next key factor of an effective digital logo is communication. Your logo must communicate who you are and what you do.
A potential customer should look at your logo and know immediately what you do. They might not get every nuance, but if they can’t at least tell what industry you’re in, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
It should go without saying that your logo must be recognizable. People who see it once should find it memorable enough that they will remember it if they see it again.
The two elements we have already discussed, simplicity and communication, can both help to render your logo recognizable. Ultimately, you want your logo to be the perfect representation of your company. When you achieve the right balance of design elements, your logo will be memorable.
Utility and Versatility
The final element you need to consider when choosing a logo is the utility and versatility of the logo itself. In the past, companies had to think about versatility, but not to the degree than they do today.
Prior to the invention of the internet, most logos appeared on the sides of buildings, in print, and on television. Logos could be small or large, but companies had a significant amount of leeway in terms of how big a logo they wanted on the letterhead, for example.
Today, logos must be designed with digital marketing in mind. That means that they have to look equally as good on the side of your building as they do in a thumbnail profile picture on Twitter. You may still have print needs for your logo, but you have to be thinking about how it will look on your website, on social media, and in emails.
Digital marketing concept
Before you finalize a logo design, you should make a point of looking at it in different sizes and formats to decide if it is versatile enough to suit your needs. A logo that becomes muddled or contains too much detail to be seen as a thumbnail is not the right logo.
Tips to Help You Choose a Great Digital Logo
Now let’s talk about how to choose a great digital logo. You need to be thinking about all of the things we have already discussed as you make your decision.
Choosing the Right Elements
Your logo choice should start with the three main elements of logo design: colors, shapes, and fonts.
1. The colors you choose should be representative of your company. While there is plenty of leeway in color choice, the truth is that certain psychological associations that must be kept in mind. For example, blue represents trust and conservatism, while green may represent money or the environment. Shades of color have slightly different meanings. For example, bright red conveys excitement, while burgundy shades are luxurious.
2. The overall shape of your logo must be taken into consideration along with internal shapes. Circles tend to represent warmth, safety, and connection. Squares and rectangles symbolize solidity and trust, while triangles stand for creativity and innovation.
3. The fonts you choose can impact how easy it is to recognize your logo. You might be tempted to choose a showy display font thinking it will be memorable, but your first consideration should be legibility, closely followed by appropriateness. A fanciful font might be perfect for a kids’ apparel shop and completely inappropriate for a financial services company.
Make sure that your logo elements translate well in a variety of sizes and uses, and that it looks as good printed as it does on the screen.
How to Avoid Looking Like Everybody Else
The final consideration in logo choice is originality. While you want to have your logo be recognizable as belonging to your industry, you don’t want it to look like every other logo out there. That means you need to balance tradition with innovation.
Earlier we showed you a real estate logo, and that’s a good example of an industry with a strong tradition. It can be challenging for real estate companies to find a way to represent themselves without slipping into cliché.
You can differentiate yourself by finding unique ways to use traditional shapes and images. Avoid hackneyed images and ideas whenever possible. You might be in the business of giving loans, but using a dollar sign in place of an S is not going to win you any points for originality.
It may help to think about the things that make you unique and work with your logo designer to make sure those things are represented in your logo. Without a doubt, there are things about your company that are special. Your logo should celebrate them while still embracing the traditional characteristics of companies in your industry.
Logo design has changed over the years, but the basic principles still hold true. The images, colors, shapes, and fonts that make up your logo should all work together to help people seeing the logo for the first time understand who you are and what you do.
Originality might seem to be elusive, but sticking to the guidelines explained here can help you choose a logo that is unique, memorable, and effective whether you use it on letterhead, on the side of a company car, or as your profile picture on Facebook.