Identity, Strategy

The DNA of a strong identity.

Creating memorable identities that tick all the boxes is much harder than you may think. Let’s take a deeper dive into professional logo design…

First of all, it’s important to note that there’s more to a really good logo than meets the eye. Despite the fact that all the great ones share an elegant simplicity that give them vital immediacy and impact, they’re invariably the result of a great deal of thought – as well as talent and inspiration. What’s more, the true classics are often the product of evolution over the years as the brand and its personality have developed and matured.

Of course, the logo design is just one element of an overall brand identity that differentiates one brand from another in an increasingly crowded market, which might include all sorts of assets, from uniforms and vehicle branding to a distinctive photographic style, business cards and packaging design, typography, colour palette and more besides. It is, however, the centrepiece of that brand identity – and it’s the part that people most directly (and deeply) identify with the brand.

To create a truly great logo you need to weave in many equally vital strands of DNA. You need to get a fundamental understanding of what the brand stands for, its history, strengths and values.

On the face of it – to the uninitiated at least – any designer worth his or her salt can put together a perfectly decent logo. And that’s true, up to a point. Creating a truly successful logo, however, one that encapsulates the brand identity complete and resonates powerfully with (and indeed profoundly influences) the brand image is another matter. To create a truly great logo you need to weave in many equally vital strands of DNA. You need to get a fundamental understanding of what the brand stands for, its history, strengths and values. Only then can you hope to develop something genuinely iconic and worthy of standing alongside the acknowledged ‘greats’.

Dropbox is a great example of a logo that has evolved significantly over the years without losing the powerful DNA that was there from the start.

Like many well-known logos, it’s simple, impactful and abstract… Or is it. If you weren’t familiar with the original 2000 versions of the logo you may not have consciously understood that the image is that of a three-dimensional open box. Perfectly descriptive of the brand’s purpose and now evolved into the now-familiar and equally evocative five isometric squares.

Designed by Lindon Leader over thirty years ago, the Fedex logo is another that stands the test of time. Brilliant in its simplicity and immediacy, it just boldly exclaims the name of the company… Or does it? If you hadn’t noticed it before, look closely at the gap between the ‘E’ and the ‘X’ and you’ll see that it makes an arrow pointing to the right, which sums up in a single glance the essence of the brand with a sense of dynamism; of ‘going places’.

In a very similar vein, the Amazon logo is the epitome of simplicity – and in this simple stating of the brand name the designer’s image speaks a thousand words about what Amazon actually does. Most evident is the sweeping arrow, conveying the sense of, well, conveying things from them to you… More subtle, yet equally compelling, is the placement of that arrow, beginning beneath the ‘A’ and ending under the ‘Z’, which clearly says everything you want from A to Z!

We could go on forever extolling the virtues of the logos we’d put in our own ‘hall of fame’ – in fact, we’d recommend that whether you’re thinking of commissioning a new or refreshed logo or you’re a designer about to create one, you could do worse than to compile your own logo ‘hall of fame’ before you get started. By examining the way each logo’s DNA informs the overall design – how it has shaped the logo’s evolution over time – you can get great insights on what your brand’s unique DNA is telling you and what is the story you have to relate, which could make the difference between a so-so logo and a branding icon.

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