Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video What is a logo?, part of Before & After: Logo Design Tips and Tricks.
- As I was working on this title I was thinking how on earth can I cover the things you need to know about logo design, in one course or even a series of courses, or a book, if I even knew? The topic is deceptively vast. It sounds easy, logos are simple little marks, just draw one. And I'll show you some famous ones that wouldn't even take you five minutes to recreate. But I'm sure that if one of you math types were to calculate the possible combinations of type and color and line and shape and messaging and all that goes into a logo, your number would be out in infinity somewhere.
So, we're not going to do that. This is not a from scratch course in logo design. It is for those who've tried it, who are involved in it, who have some experience with it. And experience as you know, is often the result of having tried and done things wrong. I'd like to correct some common misconceptions and I'd like to give you a few ideas, a few things to think about that perhaps you haven't thought about or maybe you have, and one or two that are a bit counterintuitive. For those of you who haven't worked on a logo before, I'd say hang around.
There's a lot you can pick up by osmosis, just by following along, and I hope you can do that and I hope it will be worth your time. So I think the place to start is, what is a logo? A logo is simply a distinctive way of writing your name. It can also be called a logo type. A logo can be almost anything, from plain, to fancy. What's important is that it comes to be identified with you, like your signature. Some logos include a mark.
A mark is also called a symbol or an icon. A mark can be separate from the name as it is here with Karmissie. It can interact with a name, as it does with Citi. It can be part of the name, as it is with Dole. And it can even enclose the name, as it does with Levi's. Some logos are only a mark, but these are rare. Almost everything in our modern world seems to be marked by a logo.
Look around you, I mean right now, where you're sitting, look around. In fact, here's a challenge. With your phone camera, take a picture of every logo you can see within 10 feet of your desk. This is my room, and if yours is anything like mine, there will be dozens, some of which you'll be wearing. The typical super market alone has 100,000 different logos and labels. The foundational job of every logo, the reason it exists, is to identify you uniquely.
If you don't get anything else from this course, get this. A logo is an identifier. it's not the logos job to get more customers. It's not the logos job to sell more product. Those things are for marketing. It's not the logos job to improve the business, the CEO gets to do that. It's also not the logos job to win design awards. A logo is an identifier. And the better it is at doing that, the more successful it will be.