Thursday, March 28, 2013

Logo several types of devices, more logo confusion

Clients have asked me many questions on logos, and I have had a few myself. So I composed a logo primer containing Information for client educational purposes a while back.

Background, examples, description and now updated with links to more information on logos. All general information gathered presented for client and self enlightenment and topic education.

Logo Primer

Trademarks, Logos an Introduction

Trademarks and logos of products and organizations are a means of condensing complex reality into a single simple statement, one that can be controlled modified, developed and matured over time.

Trademarks are words or symbols that identify product or services to consumers

Trademarks begin with mankind as symbols of personal and group beliefs and emerged from human desire and need for social communication and identification of certain “truths.” A circle for example; the traditional symbol of eternity and the heavens, it was used to signify the endlessness of the universe, also eternity, god, eye, mouth.

Circles are a very old form of “ads” and they belong to the oldest ideograph symbols and together with square, triangle, cross, and forked emblem form the basic plastic language. Circles were found on pre-Columbian cave walls, they have been drawn and painted empty and filled. The circle ideograph has been used in every cultural sphere on earth.

The basic ideographs or signs were the initial attempt to communicate not by tongue but as a representational drawing or image. As verbal communication and language was starting so was the need to project thoughts in a more concrete form. Words and hand signs faded and could be misconstrued or misinterpreted—images didn’t and couldn’t.

Symbols began to represent civilizations, and specialized artisans—including potters, and stone masons these were the beginning of trademarks. 13th century English law had quality assurance concerns and required trademarks used on even loafs of bread. This brings us to the idea of “brand” the customer can identify the bread loaf baker or bakery by trademark and this helps him determine whether to buy that particular bread loaf “brand” again. Symbols evolved beyond the makers signature or initials and developed into art forms themselves.

Business use of trademarks had become established by the start of the nineteenth century. Manufactures saw they could advertise and promote their products. Merchants soon would only carry and accept quality marked products as they became aware of the importance of branding and trademark as a sales tool. By the end of the 1800’s Signs and logos began appearing everywhere in the marketplace. In 100 years logos and trademarks quickly becoming a new art form. By the 1950’s the logos and trademark art form have progressed along with life and culture, logos of nineteenth century companies became streamlined and sophisticated and with new kinds of business and industry more abstract. Consumer purchasing power is on the rise along with their influence on quality brand goods and services.

Trademark and Logos todays

The name only logo designs styles popular in the 1950s begin a stylistic change. The “name-logo” logotypes evolves toward the abstract. This becomes possible with mass media advertising and this new broadcast media’s capabilty to link the abstract logo with a company in the public mind.
One much studied example is the 1960 logo created for Chase Manhattan Bank.
Today this abstract logo is still in use although we have seen the colors used and its associated type change, first in 1996.
Recently in 2007 the core abstract sysmbol is still in use today to represent what has become multinational business bank.

Informative Links on Chase logo:

Logos and Trademarks confusion ™ ®

  1. Wordmarks
  2. Device marks
  3. Composite mark–both a wordmark and a device mark.

A trademark is a device which can take almost any form, as long as it is capable of identifying and distinguishing specific goods or services. Historically or traditionally the term “trademark” described only marks designating products or “goods”. Often the word today is used to describe both goods and services type of marks. Another type of a trademark, a services mark indicate the source or origin of services. Example are plumbers or movers with service marks on delivery vehicles.

Commonly wordmarks are frequently referred to simply as “trademarks” and device marks as “logos”.

Logo is a form of a Trademark.

There are today at least seven recognized categories of trademarks and logos:
1. Name only logos (BRAUN, Scripto, XEROX, Kellogg’s, FedEx)
2. Name symbol logos (Ford, Bayer, Hertz, Nike)
3. Initial letter logos (IBM, NBC,)
4. Pictorial name logos (Apple Computer’s apple, Jaguar’ leaping Jaguar, NBC colored peacock)
5. Associative logos (Elmers-cow, Michelin-man, Geico-geeko)
6. Allusive logos (flickr, Yahoo, Corollla)
7. Abstract logos (Olympics five intersecting circles, Nike swoosh, addidas stripes)

Logos are one type of device. There are several types of devices available. The following examples have been divided into:

a. Letters and words

b. Logos
NBC’s peacock  McDonald’s double arches  Apple’s color apple

c. Pictures
Corning’s Pink Panther

d. Combination of words and a logo
digital  IBM  Netscape
e. Slogans
Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is!®
Mama mia, that's a spicy meatball!

f. Colors
In order for a color to be considered a trademark, the owner must show that secondary meaning has been developed for the color. Example of a color mark is the color pink for Owens-Corning's fiberglass insulation.

g. Product shapes
The Coca Cola bottle is a example of a product shape that has a trademark status

h. Sounds
The NBC three tone chime is a example of a registered service mark.

In the USA marks often are categorized according to the type of identification involved. The common categories are trademarks, service marks, and trade dress. There are state and federal trademark registration status. In business practice, roughly, rights in a trademark accrue by use in commerce and then belong to the company that applies the mark to its products.

Logo considerations, a graphic design perspective

Logos are more then words or devices. 

• Identify a product or service or organization
• Differentiate it from others
• Communicate information as to origin, value, quality
• Add value-at least in most cases
• Represent potentially valuable assets
• Serve as important legal properties

Your logo is important, today more then you think 

Your logo not only acts as a building block in your business identity, it is fundamental to your business brand. 

A wrong logo can often result in damaging a company’s image. It can stifle marketing efforts. A bad logo or a lack of a logo can turn away potential new clients.

A quality logo design will spark recognition in the minds of your consumers and show your customers that your business is dedicated and professional.

What is the right logo.

Logo graphic design is a slippery subject.

A lot of logo design is a matter of taste, and tastes change over time. Clearly some have better contemporary logo design taste than others do.

How can that be, how did they and how can you develop a strong contemporary design taste?

Take a moment to look. Examples of good design are all around us, so by simple observation and looking at what others are doing, looking at our direct competitors we can learn through observation, just make simple observation of what we take for granted.

As a graphic designer I have books, journals and maintain files of designs that I like. I constantly study graphic design, type, lettering, logo’s and identity systems. I have even created logo designs considered good design by industry, and clients. I have a developed logo inteligence.

You too can do something similar. Take a few minutes to thumb through magazines. Take pictures of logos on store fronts, on the side of a bus, inside the grocery or hardware store, at the lunch restaurant. Once you start to look you will see logos on everything and everywhere you look. Sift through and single out examples of logos that you like. Look and note what appeals to you as you study them. You might consider the Farmen’s pickles label, or Vlastic pickles label verses the store brand label. Does one use more ornate lettering. What about colors, what is the overall sense you get of each logo?

Soon your sense for what logos appeal to you and why you like it will manifest. Collaborating will be easier in conveying your ideas about your logo direction and style. At the very least answering interview questions for the design brief will be simpler for you, and you will be more open and ready to start the logo design process!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is my first blog post, and is about the hard working logo.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about logos. 

This became evident to me when viewing the phenomenon craigslist. While looking through craigslist my curiosity gets me to stray from searching the boats or trucks posts and I look under the art/media/design list even though I know this is not where my creative services client demographic is likely to be found. 

A logo request follows where the craigslist poster appears to be grossly unaware of what it really takes to author a professional logo graphic design: “Graphic designer needed for a fairly simple project. This project is not complex at all, just will require your expertise in illustrator. This is not for those who charge ridiculous hourly rates. Email back with your recent work and price for 3 logos ”. 

What this person posting may think is “quick” or “easy” is not always. On the bright side at least they have some good judgement and know they need help of a graphic designer. Regardless of what you read about the drawing software or see advertised it is not as simple as pushing a few buttons to create a logo or other design today. The truth is a quality logo takes just as much hard work today as it did 30 years ago before computer drawing tools became available.

It’s “easy” to use terms like “this project is not complex at all” and “simple” when referring to a logo a project, but you may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place for a logo graphic design project to happen, unless or until you have gone through the process.

Finished logos, or stationery with logo may look simple, clean, and straightforward as finished products, but they took more than just two to three hours or even days to create. Great logo design is accomplished with superlative collaborative work, and by utilizing and building on the standard tried and true design process:

Discovery-Research and Planning

Strategy Development

Design Development


Keep in mind these four phases require asking and answering many questions, then discussions, brainstorming, lots of sketching, drafts, revisions. Good designers are equipped with the talent and skills to work quickly and efficiently, so that by showing a client thumbnails, roughs, and tight sketch they can get a client to a good logo solution pretty fast. That tight logo sketch or a finished logo may look simple and obvious to you, but it is never simple, it took a lot of hard work. An expertise with Adobe Illustrator is important, but has less to do with a good logo design then the collaborative work and the designer craft skill and talent authoring the logo.

The modern design studio is expensive to maintain even a one person business. Professional designers don’t use free fonts they purchase font licenses along with licenses for graphic arts software they use. This licensing protects both designer and client, this has a cost. Graphic design studio equipment has cost too, a basic Colorimeter to ensure color accuracy across equipment (monitor, scanner, camera) and media has starting cost  of $1,200.00. The basic Computer graphic design workstation starts about $3,500, a drawing tablet another $1,500.00, a high quality color printer for proofing starts at $1,300.00. These are only some of the expenses and these items are updated or replaced constantly. These kinds of things factor into the project cost.

Graphic artist profession take special knowledge and training. Most graphic designer have bachelor degrees, plus the continuing education cost during the rest of their career like any other professional. The graphic designer of today has graphic arts expertise along with technical expertise in information technology, computer systems, computer graphics applications, modern printing media, television, film, web, advertising and marketing communications, they are adept at multiple disciplines. Graphic artist provide highly skilled services and occupy a very special place in business and economy. Authoring intellectual property such as a logo has a real value. 

So what is a ridiculous hourly rate for a professional to create a logo? Well guess what purchasing creative services and intellectual property is not like shopping at Wallmart.

Take these ideas and realities into consideration the next time you’re thinking of putting together a budget and timeline for a logo project. Most people know that it requires time, effort and skill to turn nothing into something good.