Of all the design categories we’ve worked with over the years, the concept of a corporate logo is probably the hardest to define, or even show examples of). Most designers, if asked to define the concept of a corporate identity would use the terms – iconic, staid, solid, clean. Simple logos. Trouble is, over the years, the delineation between corporate logos and their more creative counterparts has blurred, and with the advent of Web 2.0, it’s difficult to define what a corporate logo is – more of a ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ factor. One way to see examples of iconoclastic corporate logos is to view the corporate identities used by most of the Fortune 500 companies. Simple, clean logos that are usually text driven (or if an icon is used – it is brutally simplistic).
Corporate logos are favored by companies that are trying to establish an image of stability – banks and accounting firms for example – avoiding visual cliches that become dated in a relatively short time. These kinds of brands have the longest shelf-life (they tend to avoid design trends and cliched logos) and appeal to the widest market possible – extremely important for companies that are concerned about stockholders and the like. Corporate logos are usually the simplest to reproduce, are adaptable for every media imaginable. They’re also instantly recognizable, even at the smallest sizes. There’s also the added benefit of ‘pushing’ the company name, as opposed to relying solely on a visual image. Some downsides to corporate logos – it’s difficult to develop a truly unique brand, and it’s only through repeated exposure of the mark will it gain any traction.
Corporate logos generally feature highly simplified graphics or symbols that depict an aspect of the company or product portrayed. These graphics are usually abstract in concept but can also feature a reasonably accurate depiction of an idea, concept or item. Generally speaking, it’s the treatment of the image, as well as the subject matter, that defines an corporate logo. Iconic and text treatments are the most common design styles utilized, and is probably the type of design that comes to mind if you were asked to describe “what is a logo?” Despite their relative simplicity, corporate logos are often the most difficult to design – it’s certainly not easy to take complex ideas or concepts and break them down into a few abstract shapes. Doing so requires the services of and experienced designer who is able to understand both the conceptual and technical limitations of developing such a design.
Unlike more complex illustrative logos, designers try to avoid adding blends, gradients and other nifty special effects in order to keep the mark as clean and linear as possible (though we can break logo design rules from time to time). Corporate logos usually feature solid geometric shapes, arranged in a way that very quickly describes the company portrayed (think Apple, Nike, Adidas, etc) – and are probably the most effective in building brand recognition. Simple corporate logos have certain technical advantages over their more complex cousins, the most notable being scalability. When your logo is to be featured at a small size, or in low-resolution reproduction, simple logos hold together reasonably well and are still recognizable at first glance. Corporate logos are sometimes developed with a text and separate icon portion and the the text portion can be dropped at a later date, once your logo has been well exposed. Due to their relative simplicity, corporate logos are the best choice for certain applications – embroidery for one example, flash animation for another – and these are the kinds of designs that have the fastest retention factor for your viewing audience.
A sampling of design work from The Logo Factory®. 2 1/2 minute video features samples of logos and Flash animations. TLF produced soundtrack is also available as an MP3 download.