Logos and logo design

Logos are all around us. They embody the entire identity of a company in a simple, recognizable graphic symbol. Sometimes that image is as simple as possible, such as the 3M or Apple logo or very complex such as the Wendy’s icon. Designing a logo is a very intense process for a graphic artist. Research, exploration of visual ideas, pencils, reviewing with the client, more pencils, more exploration into what every nuance means. Take the 3M logo for instance. Gestalt theorists say “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Those two Helvetica Black type characters become more than just characters placed together. Their structure and elegance come to represent all aspects of the company. Some logos are clever such the FedEx logo with the hidden arrow… look at the white space between the capital E and the lower case x. This is not an accident and it didn’t happen with the first run-through of ideas. Have you ever noticed that the Amazon smile is also an arrow that directs you from A to Z?

Designing logos is an integral part of being a graphic designer. The Interacitve Media and Graphic Design program at Globe University/Minnesota School of Business has an entry level class on Typography and Composition. One of the things we look at in that class is how logos are developed and designed. Again, it is not an easy or quick process. Students find out that their first ideas aren’t always the best and that by drawing and sketching and redesigning, they can come up with some very creative icons. We call this process “drain your brain” because we want the student to literally explore every possibility to come up with a superior logo, not just a pretty good one.

To see a six-minute PBS video of industry leaders talking about the history and development of logos go to: http://youtu.be/x3jTSB2ez-g

How ingrained are logo icons in our lives? Take a look at these logos and see if you can identify the brands. The answers will be posted here next week.