Great Logo Design Now & Then
I have seen a lot of great logo designs over the last 25 years and just as many not so great logos. Technology has brought about a democratization of who creates the logos of new companies. Once the exclusive domain of trained graphic designers and artists. Now anyone with a bit of time and access to the todays powerful software programs can create a “logo”. Some of these well intended logo designers are influenced by and mimic the look of big popular brands in the development of their own logos. I admit, when I was younger, I was guilty of adopting a cool logo trend into my work also. The new modern look was fresh and different and wasn’t that what really mattered? If I created a cool looking logo, just like the AT&T Logo, that’s what a great logo is suppose to look like, right? The sleek, modern logos were seductive to us young designers and it showed in our work. Today many of small new companies are trying to look just like the big national brands. How many variations of the Nike swoosh have you seen in other company logos? Take the swoosh, rotate, stretch place above the type, tweak the color and done, a new logo. Access to the design tools without any formal training and we have the homogenization of logo design. A sameness that’s not necessarily awful, definitely not great, it just exists.
I believe a great logos design starts with a designer that understands the company, service or product. What is the history, it’s promise, where is it going? In my opinion a great logo uniquely represents the company or product in a clever way. Sometimes it is so subtle you have to be told the meaning and then it is forever obvious. Or the uniqueness of a graphic device can be immediately apparent, but with a charm to it, like an old friend. Have you ever noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo? You may have seen the logo for years never noticed the arrow in the negative space between the E and x, but once you are aware of it, you always see it first. It wasn’t just and accident, the designer intended the subtle suggestion of movement, it was a key reason the company adopted that logo. Although it isn’t a snazzy, new logo design technique, the logo is beautiful in its simplicity and purposeful meaning. It is a grown-up smart logo for a grown-up smart company who knows who they are and where they are going. Many years ago, I’m sure my opinion of the FedEx logo would have been: boring, too traditional, not flashy enough. Today I embrace the maturity and straight-forward presentation, of the FedEx brand. I have always believed a logo should be visually appealing, but it should also have a purpose to the design, a simple inner beauty that stands the test of time.