Logo Development Hurdles
Brand Logo: Is a dimensional logo worth the cost?
A brand logo is often overcomplicated. There are a number of cool-looking three-dimensional brand 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 the often see three dimensions as representing that advantage over the traditional two-dimensional logo. The question to ask is whether the perceived benefit is worth the cost? Or whether there is a benefit at all.
The purpose of a brand logo, and all brand identity, 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. That is because its purpose is to convey the strategy. And to do so 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. Because those who usually see it do so 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. And 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. As a result they lose the concept and forget it altogether. (See some of Stealing Share’s logo design work here.)
Dimensions add complexity
In contrast to two-dimensional logos, a brand logo with several dimensions adds immediate complexity. The third dimension adds another layer. Unless the design considers the potential for this complexity, the viewer is forced to work harder. MUCH harder in order to get the concept. Instead of immediately seeing the single action point (and concept), the viewer has to digest more information. 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.
So, 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, three colors are required. With 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 and 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, computer graphic designers and advertising agencies the world over jumped to adding dimensions. Computers allow brand logo designers to “dimensionalize” symbols and art with the touch of a button. 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. As a result, they did this in order to signal that they were part of the new technology age.
They took their well-established “world” symbol and gave it dimension. And they 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 still two-dimensional.
Think Nike, Samsung Apple and others, who prove that two-dimensional does not mean a company is any less progressive or current. Three-dimensional logos require greater management and production costs. They take discipline and commitment. And brands usually don’t get much back in return. As a result, 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.