Logo or Logotypes and Branding
The word logo is rooted in the Greek word lógos meaning a word, saying, speech, discourse, thought, proportion, and ratio. In the world of graphic design a logo must represent all these concepts. Logo is associated with logotype which is defined as; a graphic representation or symbol of a company name, and trademark, which is uniquely designed for ready recognition. Any study of logos, need to look at it from the perspective of both historical evolution of graphic design and, of course, an overall marketing strategy in which a logotype would be presented as a symbol or a brand to distinguish a particular product among its many rivals in the marketplace. In economics jargon this is called Product Differentiation. Of course, many nonprofit humanitarian, cultural and political entities also use logos to convey a particular image of themselves.
Humanitarian, Cultural and Political Logo
The flag of the Olympic Games has been designed by Pierre de Coubertin. The circle is considered a symbol of unity, because all the regular polygons are embraced by the circle. It is also the symbol of timeless excellence, without beginning or end, perfect, the ultimate geometric symbol. Elegantly using the cultural symbolism of circle, the flag reminds us of the minimalism of Mondrian. According to Coubertin “This design is symbolic; it represents the five continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time.”
The logo of the Socialist Party of France depicts a rose as a symbol of community (the flower’s petals), socialism (its red color), taking care of those who are less able to compete (the fragility), the struggle (the thorns), cultural life (beauty). Historically, the red rose became the party’s emblem during the nineteen-seventies. At first the party used a vertical fist as a symbol of resistance. However, François Mitterrand’s Socialists rebranded the party and turned the fist into a horizontal hand holding a rose.
Known worldwide by its panda logo, the Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund (WWF) participates in international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. The powerful image of an engendered specie like panda bring home the point both intellectually and emotionally. Gerald Watterson was the creator of the original panda.However, through the design has become more articulated and aesthetically pleasing.
Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, is best known for its humanitarian projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic disease. Their logo using a minimalist approach modulates a nonjudgmental, apolitical, humanitarian visual impact.
Branding and Logo in the world of commerce
Product differentiation; in quality, packaging, design, color, and style – has an important impact on consumer choice. This is how branding strategies work, they create product differentiation in the minds of consumers. In fact, Every time that we fill up our cars, the petrol we purchase is relatively identical whether we go to a Shell, an Esso, or any other stations. But branding strategies have to sell, and they achieves this goal by positively influencing people’s perceptions of the product or service.
Today there are thousands of branding gurus who are providing advice on branding strategies. However, it is important to remember that if a company does not have a real product that would satisfy a need of a consumer branding would be of no use, Of course, there are those who argue a powerful company, with deep pockets, can always create in the minds of consumers an artificial feeling of a need for a useless product, such as many of the health products, cosmetics, bottled water, and so on in today’s markets. Nevertheless, these products still satisfy various needs – albeit the illusive ones, of making someone more healthy, more beautiful, more safe, and so on, and if they cannot deliver on those promises sooner or later the value of that brand will diminish.
Many argue that a great brand name is one of the most powerful forces in marketing and advertising. A brand name, however, is not created right of the bat. The fact that Google became such a great brand was because it’s search engine was working much more efficiently than Altavista, Yahoo, and other competitors at the time. Once people recognized the merits of a product, then the story about what makes that company different from it’s competitors and the emotional tug that connects the company with it’s customers becomes a branding story.
Unfortunately, visual design terms are too often used inconsistently, leading to confusion for designers as well as clients. Contrary to common usage, the words “logo,” “identity,” and “brand” are not interchangeable. A tasteful, and potent graphic identity is a touchstone for any company, and logos are among the most tangible artifacts graphic designers produce. Today, anyone with a computer and Internet access can create a kind of graphic identity. Many entrepreneurs may feel satisfied by acquiring run of the mill logos, but when their products become popular and the time arrives to benefit from their many years of hard struggles, the competitors begin to enter the same markets with similar products to delve into their sources of profit. The new entrants compete with better logos on their magazine ads, delivery trucks, business cards, lobby signs, and so on, and because their logos can deliver the message more clearly, they can borrow from the credibility of the earlier products, and can connect with the target consumers more emotionally, motivate them and generate loyalty and good will.
Thus, too succeed in branding, entrepreneurs must anticipate the needs and wants of their customers, understand the aesthetic of their logos, and integrate their brand strategies through the activities of their companies at every point of public contact. A potent brand would etch on the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. The brand would simply become a promise that the company would provide the same quality of service for the same authentic product that customers that have valued through their experiences.
As it should be clear form our discussion, so far, a logo by itself cannot create a brand for a company. Other elements, such as it’s commitments to quality controls, it’s ethical values, it’s community relationships, the design of it’s products, the quality of it’s advertisements, and even the style and color of it’s stationery all are very important. Most of the logos we admire more often than not are part of a well-designed system, that includes as these other elements.
A recognized brand name is a great ambassador for a company. It can act as a guarantor of quality for other products of the company that are still new and unknown. It also helps differentiate a company’s offerings from the competition’s.
A great brand name must be both linguistically appealing and must strategically reminds the clients of all other elements that are part and parcel of it’s identity. In other words, the brand would be a shorthand signal for the high quality of products, the company’s trustworthiness, ethical integrity, and good corporate citizenship.
Today finding a right name and an appropriate logo has become a real challenge. It is interesting to note that in 2003, there were more than 260,000 trademark applications in the United States and over 98 percent of the dictionary is registered as a “dot com ” company. This has created many jobs for some smart people to search a for a good brand name. I do not think, finding a name is that important as the Johnson & Johnson, P& G, and 3M brands as well as many others demonstrate.
In today’s world a brand name needs to have strong presence in Web search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This is in a context that the globalization has released an enormous competitive force from a torrent of new products which makes it enormously challenging to develop a new brand. A business needs to build its products or services with a perceived or a real unique value or unique competitive advantage. However, in a globally competitive market the competitors, usually fairly quickly, copy, or even improve upon, those unique values or advantages. Over time, most highly valued features would become common, or in technical terms they become commoditized. Commoditization occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation across its supply base, often by the diffusion of the intellectual capital necessary to acquire or produce it efficiently. As such, goods that formerly carried premium margins for market participants have become commodities.
A comprehensive visual communication strategy is the only viable solution within a branding strategy that would combat that loss of advantage or uniqueness. For instance; Apple Inc.’s branding strategy is to compete with a tasteful and elegant designs across several highly competitive consumer electronic markets, which includes the Mac brand in personal computers, the MP3 segment represented by the I Pod brand, digital music distribution through its iTunes Music Store, the phone segment led by iPhone and more recently in the critically important domain of convergence, between the smartphone, the notebook and the media player with the Apple iPad. What connects all these branding activity is apple’s logo.