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An effective logo is easy to grasp

Dan Antonelli...

If a logo needs explanation, readers miss the message

As designers, we're often asked to create new logos based on a client's existing logo. Often times, the logo has not previously been designed professionally, or if it was, has not functioned properly. For logos without obvious connotations, we're often given a very odd explanation of how the previous logo has come to fruition.

Sometimes, I have to scratch my head and say to the client, "Huh?" I mean, I think I'm a bright guy, but the explanations and obscure symbolism they sometimes describe makes me wonder how they ever might have thought anyone could decipher their logo. Even someone who is obsessed with them like me.

We then bring the conversation back to why it is indeed an ineffective brand and identity. I explain the need to redo the logo because it fails to meet the marketing objectives for which they are hiring me. Say we're hired to design a Web site for a beautiful, high-end company. They give us a logo that clearly is not beautiful and high-end. We have to explain that it will be difficult to achieve An effective logo is easy to grasp A their goals with the site because their current logo doesn't communicate their stated goals.

So we lay it on the line: Get a new brand.

Start fresh moving forward, and allow us to lay the foundation for a better identity for the business -- or we're probably not going to be able to assist you. More than likely they haven't had a professional tell them anything about their logo. A few articles ago, [Overcoming the "I Don't Need a Logo" syndrome, in the November/December 2005 issue of SignCraft] we explored why no one has already told them they need a new logo.

So our mission becomes how do we design an obvious, simple-to-decipher logo and brand for this company -- one that is recognizable and communicates their core message without being common, and/or boring. Sounds simple enough, right?

I think as a firm, we've grown more astute in this approach. Perhaps it's simply because we're getting larger clients. We're also working with several illustrators, which allows us to offer more options.

Finding and Identifying Solutions

Let's look at few recent logos and see if they were successful in fulfilling the mission. At this point, I'd also like to thank my illustrators Will Harmuth and Jeff Devey, Jr. who assisted with the artwork in some of the following logos.

Lightstream Electric

The client gave us a lot of latitude here, only telling us that he didn't want to look like every other electrical contractor. Jeff came up with the graphic, and I worked on the typography, opting for colors that are a little more unique, and not often used together. We also printed their four-color stationery and business cards. Their vehicles were to be lettered with the logo as well, so legibility remained an important consideration.

Light Stream

Riverview PoolsRiverview Pools Logo Sample

This simple graphic is easy to recognize. I think it represents the business type well. Just by seeing the icon you know it has something to do with water. We also added a tagline to the name to further clarify the main copy. Obvious color choices here, but, what other colors work for a pool company? Jeff helped with the design of the logo and the icon.

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©Dan Antonelli

See Dan Antonelli's excellent series of books on logo and graphics design...

Copyright Dan Antonelli This article originally appeared in the May/June 2006 issue os SignCraft and is reprinted here with permission and kudos to SignCraft and Dan Antonelli -- Dan Antonelli, President and Creative Director, Graphic D-Signs, Inc. and SignShopMarketing.com. Please contact Dan Antonelli

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