An image, an icon, a symbol, and a statement, your logo is your corporate identity in pictorial form, and choosing the right artist for your logo design is very important. As you commission an artist to develop your logo, you must be fluent in artist-speak and proficient in describing your business, its mission, objectives, and distinction. You cannot afford to settle for anything less than perfect; and, although you probably will recognize perfection when you see it, it cannot hurt to know these basic terms and principles.
Five Fundamental Principles of Logo Design
Start with the art-school basics. The finest logos honor five fundamental design principles: They are (1)simple, (2)memorable, (3) appropriate, (4)versatile, and (5)timeless. Of course, the iconic logo designers harmonize the five elements so masterfully that critics cannot deconstruct their work for the sake of demonstrating how each principle manifests in a design. The designers themselves cannot always account for how and why a design “just works.” Among the five elements, “appropriateness” always emerges as most elusive. A Wall Street investment firm cannot risk cute, clever, or “edgy,” because its logo must signal stability, prudence, and wisdom. A high-tech electronics manufacturer cannot risk over-complication, because the association between technology and complication triggers viewers’ acute technophobia.
Experts most often point to the Nike “swoosh” as the archetype of all great logos. Simple enough that teenagers can doodle it on their notebooks, and versatile enough that it works on everything from swimsuits to basketballs, the swoosh became an instant classic—a design for the ages. In addition to exemplifying all the standards in action, the swoosh makes the case for scouting the unknown designers as well as the hall-of-famers, because Nike founder Bill Bowerman found it buried in a Portland State design student’s portfolio.
Who Can conceive and Execute a Fine Logo Design?
As you begin your search for a logo and designer, you must have a crystal clear concept of your corporate identity. Ask and answer, “What do we do?” or “What do we make?” in a simple declarative sentence. Then, begin conjuring an image that represents your simple answer. The rest probably will be a process of trial-and-error until the design “clicks.” Marketers strongly recommend you take a crash course in logo design and artist-client relations at logoblog.com, a clearing house for logo-related information and a great place to scout for starving artists. When you feel confident you can speak fluently in the language-of-logo, choose among any or all of four options…
- Option One: Look for an up-and-comer. The Art Institutes have campuses all around the country, and each campus is home to skilled faculty and a legion of starving students, all of whom willingly will compete for your business. Satisfied customers say they contacted prominent, well-placed faculty and negotiated terms for a contest, a paid internship, or a commissioned project for a distinguished student. The deal naturally helps talented students build their portfolios, and it helps you save money.
- Option Two: High-Powered and high-priced. Two websites showcase the work of the world’s top designers, the people who crafted all the most recognizable and memorable corporate logos. Look at http://www.logodesignlove.com/ and http://www.logosdesigners.com/ and then follow their “resources” links to contact the artists whose work you like best. Be prepared, however, because elite work comes at elite prices.
- Option Three: Find an innovator. The best of the cutting-edge designers show the best from their portfolios at dailydesigninspiration.com. There, you will find a diverse array of ingenious designs that capture companies’ identities so perfectly the critics cannot recreate their magic in words. The images range from cute to clever and all the way to compelling, so that you can develop your sense of where on the continuum you want you logo to land.
- Option Four: The Wal-Mart of logo design. More than 33,000 graphic designers routinely compete at http://www.logodesignguru.com/. In the same way that freelance writing sites invite writers to compete for the privilege of supplying your web content, Logo Design Guru invites designers to compete for the privilege of rendering your corporate identity in pictorial form. You describe what you want and how much you will pay. Then, an average of more than 100 different artists submit samples according to your specs and timeline. The site has received favorable reviews from all the major business publications, all of which have praised its efficiency and economy.
You cannot afford to under-estimate your logo’s power. Coca-Cola owns the world’s most recognizable logo, and it dominates the world’s soft-drink market. Of course, the logo drives sales. Be patient and picky enough that you discover precisely the right logo to drive your company to the top of its industry.
Photo credits: Kelly being a graphic designer by jessica mullen/flickr; Voltage logo design by Fabio Comparelli/flickr; Spime Design Workshop Logo by David Orban/flickr