Apr 2019

A logo is not simply a name, an icon or a visual signature on billboards, they are everywhere.  They are on your clothes, instant noodles you eat, and so on. Wherever you go, you will find yourself amongst dozens of brand icons whether you carry them on yourself or pass by them.

People are literally, physically interacting with those symbols in a way that they never did,” says Michael Bierut, the partner in the prominent design firm Pentagram.

This is exactly why it is so important to understand logos.


As consumers develop the knowledge and trust with a particular brand, they are more likely to react empathetically, emotion is an important part of a logo to evoke. 95% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, making it vital for companies to choose names that evoke positive emotions. Colour is also as important, it increases brand recognition by 80%. However, it’s not just about being appealing or eye-catching, your logo should accurately represent what your business is all about – making sure it’s not similar to any other companies logo.

The market is full of competition and in order to stay ahead of the game, understanding logo concepts are crucial. Your logo should be so unique that it stands out. Know what your brand is and what your logo means to your brand. For example, Apple’s fruit logo missing the “byte”. A logo is an introduction to your brand – it says it all!

But because of the immersive digital age we live in, it is not enough that your logo is a visually appealing, unique design that captures the meaning of your brand. There’s a new element added – identity process: The crowd. Social media binds communities together that were once geographically isolated. Now that these once-a-remote communities are densely networked, their cultural influence has become direct and substantial.

Design giants never had to contend with the kind of Internet-fueled backlash that can turn a redesign into something as close to a pop culture event. No brand, for instance, wants to endure the Tropicana debacle of 2009.

In an attempt to “evolve” the juice brand “into a more current or modern state,” as the company’s designer redesigned Tropicana’s longtime orange-with-a-straw-in-it logo in favour of a somewhat abstract image of juice in a glass and a sans serif font. Complaint emails poured in, sales plunged 20%, and the older logo was promptly restored.

By now any company pushing a new logo knows that the design will be widely scrutinised. And that may be acutely true for a digital-dependent company that have their logos on people’s phone more than on any other medium.

Let’s look at Verizon – a top telecommunications company that recently redesigned their logo. The complexity of their older logo incorporated a modified italic typeface, a stylized “z” and a V-shaped form on top of the name that sometimes appears on top or next to it and graduations in multiple places which has made it difficult to reproduce across mediums. It was one of the most looked down upon logos showing up in many articles on “Worst logo designs”, “35 of the worst logos ever created”, etc.

Luckily in 2015, their Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti explained the purpose of the long-awaited change of the logo: “Our goal was to define a brand identity that stands for simplicity, honesty, and even joy, in a category that has become overrun with confusion, disclaimers and frustration.”

Following which Pentagram’s new logo design for Verizon was released to the public. Finally, a logo that was much cleaner, and something more human-designed. The checkmark, the universal symbol for getting things done, was used to express the “reliability of Verizon”.  

Companies still face a hard time coming up with a branding model that works well in the chaotic world of social media. The big platforms— Facebook, YouTube and Instagram—seem to call the shots. Companies need to shift their focus away from the platforms themselves and toward the real locus of digital power—crowdcultures.

Old Spice succeeded with a strategy that leveraged the ironic hipster aesthetic, and not a Facebook strategy. Once again, companies can win the battle for cultural relevance with cultural branding, which will allow them to tap into the power of the crowd.

In this digital age where everyone has an opinion of something, you aren’t just making a logo to represent your brand through thought-provoking designs or colours and leaving it at that. People who do not understand logos or the design process are so quick to judge your logo that they create such a hue and cry about it which alone can break your the launch of your brand logo.

In the words of Michael Bierut, it is important to remember that “Most people comment on logo launches as if they’re judging a diving competition when they should be judging a swimming competition’’.

Roxanne Heldt