Elements of brand logo design. The brand Logo
There are a number of cool-looking three-dimensional logos in the marketing landscape now. It’s a trend worth noticing because, in this highly competitive selling environment, companies of all sizes are constantly reaching for a visual advantage and often see three dimensions as representing that advantage over the traditional two-dimensional logo. The question to ask, however, is whether the perceived benefit is worth the cost – or whether there is a benefit at all.
The purpose of a brand logo is as a symbol for the brand strategy.
When done properly and most effectively, a brand logo is a symbol or distillation of the brand strategy. Its purpose is to convey the strategy in the most immediate and direct way possible. In order to do this, there must be an idea – a concept – not a mere decoration. And its design must be simple in order for it to have meaningful resonance for audiences who usually see it in a blink.
Simplicity is key to communicating the concept.
Simplicity is key because complexity means interference between the viewer and the concept. The primary goal of the brand logo is to create focus for the concept that can only be achieved when there is a single point of action. If target audiences are distracted and allowed to wander, they lose focus, lose the concept and forget it altogether. (See some of Stealing Share’s logo design work here)
Dimensions add complexity.
In contrast to 2-dimensional logos, a brand logo with several dimensions adds immediate complexity – and the third dimension adds another layer. Unless the design considers the potential for this complexity, the viewer is forced to work harder in order to get the concept. Instead of immediately seeing the single action point (and concept), the viewer has to digest more information – and the single action point may be diminished.
Dimensions add cost.
If the only application of a logo were for multi-tonal media like onscreen or halftone printing (print ads and brochures), then cost would not be a consideration. By adding dimensions to the logo, tones are necessary in order to achieve the effect. Notice the additional tones needed to turn these simple shapes into 3D. For the square, 3 colors are required. For the circle, gradient tones are needed. For signage, packaging and premiums (folios, shirts, pens, etc.), extra tones require extra costs for each additional tone. Even in halftone printing, which breaks up solid colors into tones by way of small halftone dots, there are limitations regarding size. Small logos (1/2” or smaller) will begin to look rough as the halftone dots cannot adequately render a sharp edge at very small sizes (without extra expense). Dimensional logos are also impossible to stamp or etch on products.
Dimensions are less readable small.
Dimensional brand logos are less readable at small sizes because of their complexity. The tones tend to blend together and the definition of shapes is greatly reduced.
Logos with dimensions are a trend.
With the advent of the technology age and the ubiquitous computer monitor, graphic designers and advertising agencies the world over jumped to adding dimensions to their artwork. Computers allowed brand logo designers to “dimensionalize” symbols and art with the touch of a button. That simply, a trend was instantaneously set in motion. Whether it helped reinforce a particular strategy or message was immaterial. The “look” was “in” and it was king.
Dimensions and the resulting need for two logos – AT&T.
AT&T was one of the first to turn to adding dimensions in their logo in order to signal that they were part of the new technology age. They took their well-established “world” symbol and gave it dimension with added tones, gradations and transparencies. It looked great on TV and online, but for all physical products (phones and equipment), a single color version had to be created. It simply wasn’t feasible to print tones and gradations on every product that, up to this point, had a single color silkscreen or emboss. In effect, the second brand logo was a symbol for the first brand logo. Two logos are not a good idea for any company. Although the differences may seem slight, it causes a loss of focus and some subtle confusion among target audiences.
Today’s world of logos
Dimensional logos have become part of an entire landscape of logos today. Many are three-dimensional, but the majority of the big brands are 2-dimensional. Think Nike, Samsung and others, proof that two-dimensional does not necessarily mean a company is any less progressive or current. Three-dimensional logos require greater management and production costs throughout a company. They take discipline and commitment, and brands usually don’t get much back in return. They can provide a measure of a progressive presence but the extra dimension does not help most meanings, especially when you consider the additional cost.