Magazine article Arts & Activities

Logos and Wordmarks

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Logos and Wordmarks

Article excerpt

Almost everyone can sketch a memorable logo. Some, like Coca-Cola, have remained virtually unchanged for over 50 years, while other companies feel the need to rebrand, to energize soft markets or lagging sales. What qualities contribute to a memorable logo or corporate mark? How can students make good design decisions when faced with this problem? One strategy is taking a closer look at the corporate symbols that are in their vernacular and analyze a series of them to determine why each is or is not effective.

A handout with a number of successful corporate symbols was given to students and discussed in class. Many graphic designers believe for a logo to work, it must pictographically capture the essence of the product or service being offered--if the public can't identify what's being sold, such a logo would be utterly useless. The problem with this approach, though, is the difficulty of finding purely pictographic solutions for many abstract concepts, and that cultural differences may blur the meaning.

Far more prevalent, and at the other end of the design spectrum, are designers who believe that with proper marketing, people will identify abstract forms or specific shapes and associate them with the company, product or service concerned. Canadian National Railway's famous CN logo is a perfect example of this train of thought (pun intended).

Then there are typographic wordmarks that attempt to create unique letterforms or groups of letters combined with colored shapes that, over time, people associate with a company. IKEA, for example, uses bold extended letters and the colors of the Swedish flag, and Best Buy's bright yellow signs with their bold, black lettering can be seen a mile away.

Good logos must work from a distance in a large format, as well as on a business card. They must print well in black and white and color. …

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