A logo should tell a story

A logo should tell a story.

Your logo is an extension of your brand, and your brand is a story. Your story.

Who you are and what you do is one part of that story; the combined experiences, feelings, and perceptions that your brand evokes are the other. The designer’s job is to distill that “special something” as neatly, and as elegantly, as possible.

When successful, a logo will tell the story of the brand without requiring any words. It will tell a compelling story about your brand, consistently. It’s how your customers will remember you, and it’s the way you will stand out in a crowded marketplace. It’s how the most beloved brands are born.

Thoughtful design involves far more than simply choosing colors and stock images. To craft a brand identity that clearly (and effectively) communicates the core of your story takes an in-depth process of research, exploration and refinement.

The logo is only the final product.

Research

Information gathered in the research phase of the branding process will help you better articulate the vision behind your brand. This includes an analysis of the marketplace your brand is a part of—such as who your target audience is, how competitor brands are perceived, and most importantly, how your brand can differentiate itself. Mind-maps and other exercises can help crystallize the associations linked to your brand, and generating keywords can help define the core values of what it stands for. These essential attributes serve as a guiding light for the rest of the process.

Exploration

The exploration phase involves seeking inspiration—often in unlikely places. Gathering images and notes from various historical, cultural and contemporary sources helps to build a collection of references that can be drawn from. Next, sketching begins. This involves exploring different symbols and letterforms—and as many variations of each as possible. Creating many iterations not only nudges an idea into a new, meaningful direction, but allows it to go the distance.

Refinement

After pursuing each direction thoroughly, the strongest logo concepts are selected to be refined. Concepts are fleshed out further through many rounds of review and revisions—taking into consideration elements like typeface, colors, and symbolism. All of these elements taken as a whole will form the brand identity—the visual representation of all the meanings, perceptions, and values associated with the brand. A successful brand identity effectively communicates the story behind it.

Execution

The logo concept that best communicates the brand and its story will be selected and finalized. Many technical considerations factor in to the final design: everything from how the logo will be used to the size at which it appears will play a role. A well-crafted logo will accom­modate many different applications, and often will require multiple versions to suit different uses. A con­sistent, recognizable visual identity helps establish a strong brand story—and an even stronger customer bond.

A good logo is both powerful and unique.

Here are a few examples:

The success of Rdio’s logo is in its simple type that hint at musical notes within negative space of the letterforms—and also the name, which plays on the old word “radio” and turns it into something modern and hip.

This logotype was designed by cutting the figure 8 into pieces and reassembling them to create the letterforms in the word “Eight”. A clever and effective example of seeing things simply. It’s also an example of excellent typesetting.

A logo for a horror film production company. The letter forms “W” and “S”, make up the woodshed—with rough brush strokes to evoke a screeching, haunted look and feel.

A source for stock photography; the logotype de-emphasizes the company’s product while focusing on Masterfile as a creative, intriguing and aspirational brand—a place that attracts savvy industry professionals searching for images.