I’ve been immersing myself, of late, in the Quora community: enjoying a diversified array of intelligent, enlightening, and sometimes challenging questions and answers posted via this still relatively new social tool (currently the front-runner in the dynamic social Q&A arena). My most recent answer was to the question “What are some good techniques for making company logos?”, and I offer my rough and ready answer, here below:
What are some good techniques for making company logos?
1. Recognize first that a logo is a reflective representation of a brand identity. (Say what?) – designing and creating a visually appealing or arresting graphic element will not, in and of itself, do anything for your company, except spend some of your valuable upfront assets, and waste time. Before you even think about developing a logo, be sure that you are firmly clear and codified on what the enterprise plans to become down the road (you do not want to have to change your logo unnecessarily), equally clear on how you wish to present this venture for now, and uniformly in agreement across the whole team as to the language you have set in stone to express the aforementioned vision and position.
2. If all of the above is achieved fully, you are ready to begin thinking about graphic reflections and representations of the language you have crafted to represent the through-line between your currently expressed position and your intended longer term objective (vision).
3. Spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing a vast diversity of logos, to assess which resonate with you the most, and work out why (some good resources might include http://www.famouslogos.org/ and http://www.dinesh.com/history_of_logos/worlds_best_brands_and_logos.html )
4. Having saturated your self with logos through time, hire someone who can guide you through the very intense exercise of evaluating the keywords, color palette, representative shapes pool, and other areas of focus you need to explore, in order to begin whittling down toward a collection of resource elements that will constitute the building blocks for your logo concept.
5. Identify a diverse grouping of people whose opinions you respect, each of whom comes from a very different business and consumer sector, some associated with your venture’s market, and others not so much. Position them according to their proximity to your business arena, with the most closely aligned at the center, working out to the least involved. These are your Alpha reviewers, who will give you feedback on your ideas, as they reach some degree of maturity.
6. Develop some sort of beta testing protocol (social media is proving very useful in this area, as most recently exemplified by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation web survey, soliciting input as they begin to redesign their website).
7. Try to marry the necessity for exhaustive market studies, competitive analysis, historical research, and feedback…with the equally core reality that many great logos were borne of creative genius and luck, mixed with a liberal dose of good timing, and marketing flair. A logo should never be the first expression of your company’s identity, but rather the final representation of the culmination of your company’s clear understanding and recording of its identity and purpose. Agencies galore will convince client companies to develop “clever” logos, with hidden “easter egg” elements (see FedEx, Amazon.com, Sony Vaio, et al), but the success of those logos is not due to graphical or creative genius (though those efforts certainly enhanced the final result, much as a well placed cherry makes all the difference on a Sundae), but rather to the successful underlying vision and positioning manifest by the company for which the logo speaks. Who cares if FedEx has a fun arrow hidden in its logo, if the packages don’t turn up in the right place? What matters the smiley face and “A to Z” arrow in Amazon.com’s logo if Mr Bezos and gang were not able to deliver on their vision of a comprehensive and user-friendly online shopping resource?
The best technique for a great company logo is to first establish – and be able to clearly communicate the value and vision behind – a great company.
There is a certain beauty in thought leadership that is almost instantly exposed to the scrutiny and critique of the “crowd”, empowered as they are to comment and even edit your “sage advice”. One of the factors that I least enjoyed about being a consultant was the inability to learn from my “mistakes” as extensively as I might in a full-time employee dynamic. Now, so long as one is willing to dispense a little with one’s ego, and embrace the notion of transparency, one can tap in to a community that will almost always enrich one’s contributions, sometimes in the strangest ways.