Logo is in itself, a sub-style or sub-genre of a bigger field, which is graphic design. Even though, it is a little bit difficult to actually define why a graphic art is a logo and why another isn’t, there are a few things, features, traits that every logo has or should have. Let’s see how Wikipedia defines what a logo is:
A logo (abbreviation of logotype, from Greek: λόγος, romanized: logos, lit.‘word’ and Greek: τύπος, romanized: typos, lit.‘imprint’) is a graphicmark, emblem, or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition. It may be of an abstract or figurative design or include the text of the name it represents as in a wordmark.
Wikipedia comes from the non-graphical perspective, it says that if a certain graphic art symbolizes, represents a brand or other entity, it is a logo. Fair enough.
Still, there are a few things that most good logos have in common. One is simplicity. A logo is not there for you to necessarily enjoy it for hours, it should be the best graphic that you want your business to be represented by. You can sense that the more complex a logo is, the harder to remember. Also, a logo has to look good. Businesses have their logo on their entrance, on their cars, or even clothing, so it has to be appealing to the eye. At the end of the day, it represents a business or other entity. So it has to look cool.
Simplicity has another way of importance in logo design: a lot of logo designers and experts say that a logo should be working in two colors too (basically, one color and white). This is a little bit of debated area, since there are a lot of logos that definitely cool and definitely need color.
Why experts say that a logo should be working with 2 colors? Well, they are coming from the classical, “old” perspective, since there were times when internet did not exist, computers an printing were less advanced, and there were not too many times where you could actually use a colored version of your logo. Still, to this day, there are situations where colors are not an option.
Think about business stamps. I think it is cool to have your own business stamp with your own logo, but for obvious reasons, you simply can not use colors on a one-colored stamp.
Or, I guess you all have seen a logo on a glass door. I am not sure what kind of technology they use to draw a logo on glass, but the logo needs to work in one color to do that.
Situation is, most logos can be converted into black and white by a professional.
Basically, these are the “rules” of a logo. Be simple, look good, be memorable, and if possible, be black and white compatible.
But, why is the fact that there are industries, sub-industries, fields of business, sports or areas where logos seem to have more common traits than the above ones? Because there are fields that have their own logo sub-genre.
Check out these ones. These are logos of professional darts players.
If you take a closer look at them, you can see that even though they are pretty different, they have a few things in common in almost all.
First of all, all of them are skewed with their right side upwards. I guess it symbolizes the flying arrow, or means “up” for the sake of competition, doesn’t matter, but it is definitely a trait of this sub-genre.
Another common feature is the black strokes around. Every single one has it. Other ones are the relatively vivid, brave use of colors.
You can also realize that all of them are text-based logos. It means their name is the main content of the logo, even if it is in most cases represented with a graphic too.
A case study and a mistake I have made
Recently a very successful darts player wanted me to design a logo for him. He told me his player name is “The Planer”, and wanted me to create a text-based logo for him.
I created this:
He did not like it. I honestly did not know why, my professional ego was hurt a little bit, but I did not want to just accept this and give up. I asked him to help me to find the right direction, and he did it by sending me a famous darts player’s logo.
When he did that, I immediately realized that I ran into the mistake of thinking I already know-it-all, I’m professional for 10 years, so I’m a superman.
I realized I simply ignored the possibility that darts has a sub-genre in logo design. There is a style you have to follow, otherwise you are simply wack.
After doing my ego-check, and darts logo world check, I gave him this:
To be accurate, not this, this is the final version, but more or less it was the same. He immediately replied by saying it is really, really cool. You can understand, that I did not became a lot better logo designer in just hours, just did the right thing: followed the guides, traits, features of the sub-style of darts logos.
Of course, not only darts has it’s own logo style. Think about NFL.
Situation is, here, it is harder to find actual traits that all of these football logos have, but still, you can see there are typical tendencies. Either the use of letters of the team name, or use animals, or somehow represent the team’s name graphically.
In a future article, I may go into a different sub-style of logo design. Have a suggestion? Feel free to comment!