We Love Producing Logos
The heart of a visual brand is a logo. Most days we drive past an old engineering works. Now derelict, the Imperial Works of G.L.Murphy was established in Menston in 1930. Derelict since 2002, it still carries the company name above the old doors. The sign is a reminder both of a different era and that businesses have long recognised the importance of their logo.
We love producing logos; it is the ultimate test of the graphic design process. As the most memorable element of business identity, the importance of a good logo is hard to overstate. It must capture the essence of the business, whilst also being simple and recognisable. What a great challenge!
Because we think visually first, a logo will carry significant weight in moulding the perception of an organisation. We will attach personal characteristics to an organisation based on the logo design. A traditional logo design will create an expectation of staff with traditional values and approaches; that may be helpful to a business, or it may not. A fun logo could equally work for and against a company. As the company changes, even a good logo may need to change with it.
But, of course, the opposite is also true. The customer will begin to associate the logo with the image of a company that has been successfully (or inadvertently) created by other means. It can then become important either to take care of the logo or to change it. A poorly judged logo change can undermine the customer loyalty that a business has built up, whilst changing a logo when the company image has become a barrier can help in altering perceptions to the good.
In Ilkley, not far from our office, there is an electrical goods store: Clegg’s. Like Murphy’s, it has a logo which is its name in cursive script – common for logos in the first half of the last century. It captures correctly the spirit of the business, which eschews contemporary marketing and focuses on personal service. Clarks shoes is a national name which has taken a similar approach to remind customers of its heritage.
The correct name for this kind of logo is a word mark. The logo types are usually categorised as:
- Word mark – the business name reproduced in an identifiable and distinctive format
- Letter mark – the same approach, using the initial letter or letters of the business name
- Icon or symbol – a recognisable word free design is used to represent the business
- Emblem – the name of the business is wrapped into an iconic design
- Combination mark – emblem and word mark are designed together
When we were designing our own logo, we adopted a combination mark. We had chosen our (slightly weird) name deliberately, as it told our story well; we didn’t want to lose that in the logo. Equally, because we had styled the word mark in a restrained font, the addition of a symbol would add interest to the logo. A line drawing of Fountains Abbey worked visually and strengthened the Yorkshire branding. Perfect too, because it is one of our favourite days out. We always keep the combination, but sometimes the combination is horizontal and sometimes it is vertical. This freedom is helpful, but is never abused. The logo is too important for that!
A well-designed logo should, therefore, through simplicity and memorability, increase awareness and create loyalty. When we design a logo we always remember that it is the visual representation of the business’s values, beliefs and functions. Our clients so far have been service providers. We consider, therefore:
- How the logo will look on a range of publications: menus, brochures, websites…
- How it will sit at the heart of a full branding strategy
- The emotional response the logo might generate
- The message it is likely to convey see
There are some rules to this – for example, around colour (see our blog from March 2018) and proportion, but there is also subjectivity and so we will always try out a variety of first ideas and test these with the client, who knows the customer and with an informal focus group (friends can be brutal!).
Over the last year, we have been asked to design six logos, each with its own challenges. All of them are showcased elsewhere on this website, but here we discuss three as an illustration of the varied challenges involved.
This was our first logo, so it’s not surprising we are attached to it. The client was a small publishing house, newly established to publish poetry. The challenge was to produce a logo that was both contemporary and naturalistic. It also needed to work well on a book. We think the choices we made strike the balance needed. The logo is simple, tight and clean, but also references the name and approach of the business.
Otley Coffee Culture Festival
We are excited to be involved with this event. Coffee logos are tricky; they are commonplace and it is hard to reference coffee without appearing to be derivative and boring. In this case, the name, the company and the event gave us no choice but to come up with an explicitly coffee based logo. The coffee ring has been used before, but using colour, font and image carefully, ours was able to reference the Cs of coffee culture and also be reminiscent of historical emblems – appropriate in a historical setting.
Westminster Primary Academy
It was great to have the opportunity to design a school logo, but we had no idea of the complexity of what we would have to do. The logo had to reference all the following: the community of children, the faith basis of the school, the school’s focus on our place in the wider world and the school’s ethos that everything was in God’s hands. It had to work with the existing uniform colour of red and look equally good on sweatshirts, publications and signage. Phew!
We are really pleased with the outcome and so was the client. Judge for yourself, but don’t let anyone ever tell you that a designer can knock off five logos before breakfast.
Murphy’s Machinery, Menston. Founded 1930. Derelict Places