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There is power in great logos. That statement may sound like a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is any less true. A logo is an enduring symbol of a brand and it compresses the core of a company into a graphical mark for consumers to recognize at a glance. Designing a seemingly simple representation is such a massive undertaking. But some people think of it lightly, and so it’s not surprising that most of the world’s logos are forgettable and expendable.
And if a logo achieves its goal of clearly representing a brand and its identity, then it will endure in people’s minds. But behind the representation is a design philosophy that coordinates with the identity and personality of a brand, especially the successful ones. There are logo designers whose core belief is presenting the authenticity of a brand.
Authenticity and identity
But what does authenticity mean and how can a brand and its logo achieve it? There are many businesses that instinctively lean towards modernity and generate an open outlook on certain values. And then there are brands, and by extension their identities, that tend to hold on to their inherent values as they continue in their path in the industry. So here comes the challenge that businesses and logo designers have to face. Whether a particular business involves cooking backyard burgers or preparing custom printed key tags, it’s always best to have the right logo represent a brand. But how do we draw a relevant design that is as authentic as it can be while integrating a brand’s past and present into the graphics?
For some designers, any business project that involves capturing its identity should start with a serious consideration of the brand’s present position. That is a position determined by the brand’s values, philosophy, contribution to the industry, and personality. And if the brand has an existing logo, it is best also to weigh the previous designs that other designers created. Doing so will help a designer achieve a logo that evolved from its prior designs, or might as well be considered revolutionary in form.
And beyond that, we can also put things into perspective by looking into the brand’s history and by respecting and evaluating the merits of the changes that happened and in the things that remain. Often, updates on a brand’s visual identity occur as reactions to current trends or social and technological changes. Try examining the bones of previous designs and strip down their layers for a deeper understanding of the brand philosophy from which you can draw inspiration for your new logo.
Here are examples of logos, which according to some designers, are as authentic and timeless as logos can be as they perfectly capture the position of the brands they’re representing.
The 1968 Olympics
This particular logo pertains to a specific moment in history. Designed by Lance Wyman, the symbol for the Olympic Games which Mexico hosted in 1968 uses geometry that is repetitive in creating a typography, similar to IBM. Though there are design critics who would argue that the design tends to be illegible, some would say it captures the exuberance of that particular decade, the traditional forms of the culture of Mexico, as well as the emergence of corporate identity programs. Another crucial element of the design is its characteristic integration of the popular rings into the distinct visuals that perfectly unifies the place, the time, and the event.
Disney’s Mickey Mouse
Most people would associate Disney with the iconic signature of Uncle Walt written across the silhouette of Sleeping Beauty’s turreted castle. And it is understandable if people were to choose it as the greatest logo of all time.
However, some designers think that the greatest logo there is from Disney was an accidental logo in the form of a triple-orbed profile of the world-famous Mickey Mouse. What makes it a bigger logo than the iconic signature and castle combination is that the meeting of the three circles became a jumping-off point for the creative works of Disney designers these past decades. From that accidental logo, there rose a Hidden Mickey Syndrome that millions of people around the globe experience in every Disney animation.
Even when we go beyond the creations of the entertainment conglomerate, and whether it is our intention or not, most of us are reminded instantly of Disney when we see that particular combo of three circles regardless of medium or context. And that experience brings us together as members of a community that goes across generations and genders.
When a brand identifies with the words luxury and power, the logo also has to convey those characteristics. For a world-renowned luxury car brand, the logo of a prancing horse across a yellow shield also denotes power, speed, and glamor.
The logo was designed after the emblem of a celebrated World War 1 Italian fighter pilot named Francesco Baracca. He was a top fighter ace and naturally, his emblem represents that character which Ferrari has now borrowed and is living up to this day. A powerful and classy personality exists and is recreated in that prancing horse, and it travels through time and space from Baracca to Ferrari.
Included in the list is a big name in brand logos. The iconic IBM logo is regarded as one of the world’s greatest that stood the test of time. It was designed in 1972 and with almost 45 years now, for a brand to have the same logo in what seems like an eternity in the industry, that says a lot about the power of that logo and how true it is to the brand it represents. The famous eight-bar logo of Paul Rand is what many designers consider as timeless in the way it seizes the essence of technology without being stuck to a particular period or advancement in time.
The lines can also take on any meaning that IBM sees fit to their current position as a brand. And the typography works in a way that is smart as it can perfectly fit a billboard or become a little logo on screen without the need to sacrifice recognizability.
The world’s first trademarked logo is also an example of an excellent and authentic logo. The Bass Ale logo is around 150 years old, downright simple yet very iconic with its red triangle that’s now symbolic of trademark registration for brand emblems. The simplicity of the logo relays the character of the brand that is now one of the most classic and complicated designs to beat.
The authenticity of logos depends on how close to reality they can represent the identities of brands. The identities, in turn, rely on the overall placement of brands as determined by their values, philosophy, contribution to the industry, personality, and the reception of consumers. Logos give companies the chance to reevaluate the essence of their brand by letting people build strong emotional associations through those visual symbols. And it is with just the right combination of these complex factors that logo designs can achieve their goals and may as well be considered timeless designs.
Earl Jonathan Tech is the founder of PrintMeister, an online print advertising, and marketing startup that is based in Australia. Earl through his company provides clients with top-notch products and services that range from printing personalized compliment slips, key tags, and designing brand logos. During his spare time, Earl keeps his passion for writing alive by penning relevant business content.
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