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A logo is a graphical element (ideogram, symbol, emblem, icon, sign) that, together with its logotype (a uniquely set and arranged typeface) form a trademark or commercial brand. Typically, a logo's design is for immediate recognition. The logo is one aspect of a company's commercial brand, or economic or academic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other non-commercial entities.

History

Early 6th century BC one-third stater coin.
Many inventions and methods have contributed to the contemporary purpose and use of logos, including cylinder seals circa 2300 BCE, coin currency in approximately 600 BCE, trans-cultural diffusion of logographic languages, coat of arms in 1151, watermarks in 1282, the development of printing technologies, and silver hallmarks.

The purpose of such technologies have been to indicate authorship (seals and stamps), verify document authenticity (watermarks), indicate an object’s value (coins), and to document that taxes and fees have been paid (hallmarks).

As the industrial revolution converted western societies from agrarian to industrial in the 18th and 19th centuries, photography, and lithography contributed to the boom of an advertising industry that integrated typography and imagery together on the page. Simultaneously, typography itself was undergoing a revolution of form and expression that expanded beyond the modest, serif typefaces used in books, to bold, ornamental typefaces used on broadsheet posters. The arts were expanding in purpose—from expression and decoration of an artistic, storytelling nature, to a differentiation of brands and products that the growing middle classes were consuming. Consultancies and trades-groups in the commercial arts were growing and organizing; by 1890 the US had 700 lithographic printing firms employing more than 8,000 people. Artistic credit tended to be assigned to the lithographic company, as opposed to the individual artists.



Innovators in the visual arts and lithographic process—such as French printing firm Rouchon in the 1840s, Joseph Morse of New York in the 1850s, Frederick Walker of England in the 1870s, and Jules Chéret of France in the 1870s—developed an illustrative style that went beyond tonal, representational art to figurative imagery with sections of bright, flat colors. Playful children’s books, authoritative newspapers, and conversational periodicals developed their own visual and editorial styles for unique, expanding audiences. As printing costs decreased, literacy rates increased, and visual styles changed, the Victorian decorative arts lead to an expansion of typographic styles and methods of representing businesses.

The Arts and Crafts Movement of late-19th century, partially in response to the excesses of Victorian typography, aimed to restore an honest sense of craftsmanship to the mass-produced goods of the era. A renewal of interest in craftsmanship and quality also provided the artists and companies with a greater interest in credit, leading to the creation of unique logos and marks.

Logos today



Today there are many corporations, products, brands, services, agencies and other entities using an ideogram (sign, icon) or an emblem (symbol) or a combination of sign and emblem as a logo. As a result, only a few of the thousands of ideograms people see are recognized without a name. It is sensible to use an ideogram as a logo, even with the name, if people will not duly identify it. Currently, the usage of both images (ideograms) and the company name (logotype) to emphasize the name instead of the supporting graphic portion and making it unique, by it non-formulaic construction via the desiginal use of its letters, colors and any additional graphic elements.

Ideograms (icons, signs, emblems) may be more effective than a written name (logotype), especially for logos being translated into many alphabets; for instance, a name in the Arabic language would be of little help in most European markets. An ideogram would keep the general proprietary nature of the product in both markets. In non-profit areas, the Red Crossmarker (which goes by Red Crescentmarker in Muslim countries) is an example of an extremely well known emblem which does not need an accompanying name. Branding aims to facilitate cross-language marketing. The Coca-Cola logo can be identified in any language because of the standard color and the well known "ribbon wave" design.

Some countries have logos, e.g. Spainmarker, Italymarker, Turkeymarker and The Islands of The Bahamasmarker, that identify them in marketing their country solely for tourism purposes. Such logos often are used by countries whose tourism sector makes up a large portion of their economy.

Color

Color is considered important to brand recognition, but it should not be an integral component to the logo design, which could conflict with its functionality. Some colors are formed/associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey. For instance loud primary colors, such as red, are meant to attract the attention of drivers on highways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. In the United States red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with the health and hygiene sector, and light blue or silver is often used to reflect diet foods. For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate reliability, quality, relaxation, or other traits.

Dynamic logos

In 1898, French motor tyre manufacturer, Michelin, introduced the Michelin Man, a cartoon figure who was presented in many different ways, such as eating, drinking, and playing sports. By the early 21st century, other large corporations such as MTV, Google, Morton Salt and Saks Fifth Avenue had also adopted dynamic logos, that change over time and from setting to setting.

Logo design

A logotype for a fictitious entity: Narrow color range and recognizable design.
Logo design is an important area of graphic design, and one of the most difficult to perfect. The logo (ideogram), is the image embodying an organization. Because logos are meant to represent companies' brands or corporate identities and foster their immediate customer recognition, it is counterproductive to frequently redesign logos.

Examples

Corporations, businesses, and products

Due to the design, the color, the shape, and eventually additional elements of the logotype, each one can easily be differentiated from other logotypes. For example, a box of Kellogg's cereals will be easily recognized in a supermarket's shelf from a certain distance, due to its unique typography and distinctive red coloring. The same will be true when one is at the airport looking for the booth of the Hertz Rent-A-Car company. The logotype will be recognized from afar because of its shape and its yellow color.



Some well-known logos include Apple Inc.marker's apple with a bite missing, which started out as a rainbow of color, and has been reduced to a single color without any loss of recognition. Coca Cola's script is known worldwide, but is best associated with the color red; its main competitor, Pepsi has taken the color blue, although they have abandoned their script logo. IBM, also known as "Big Blue" has simplified their logo over the years, and their name. What started as International Business Machines is now just "IBM" and the color blue has been a signature in their unifying campaign as they have moved to become an IT services company.

There are some other logos that must be mentioned when evaluating what the mark means to the consumer. Automotive brands can be summed up simply with their corporate logo- from the Chevrolet "Bow Tie" mark to the circle marks of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to the interlocking "RR" of Rolls-Royce each has stood for a brand, and clearly differentiated the product line.

Other logos that are recognized globally: the Nikemarker "Swoosh" and the Adidas "Three stripes" are two well-known brands that are defined by their corporate logo. When Phil Knight started Nike, he was hoping to find a mark as recognizable as the Adidas stripes, which also provided reinforcement to the shoe. He hired a young student (Carolyn Davidson) to design his logo, paying her $35 for what has become one of the best known marks in the world (she was later compensated again by the company).

Another logo of global renown is that of Playboy Enterprises. Playboy magazine claims it once received a letter at its Chicago, Illinoismarker offices with its distinctive "bunny" logo as the only identifying mark, appearing where the mailing address normally appears.

Corporate identities are often developed by large firms who specialize in this type of work. However, Paul Rand is considered the father of corporate identity and his work has been seminal in launching this field. Some famous examples of his work were the UPSmarker package with a string (replaced in March 2003) IBM, and NeXT Computer.

An interesting case is the refinement of the FedEx logo, where the brand consultants convinced the company to shorten their corporate name and logo from "Federal Express" to the popular abbreviation "Fed Ex". Besides creating a shorter brand name, they reduced the amount of color used on vehicles (planes, trucks) and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in paint costs. Also, the right-pointing arrow in the new logo is a subliminal hint of motion.

Starting about 4 years ago, certain companies, especially online technology companies, began to adopt a common look and feel. Many people refer to that standard as "web 2.0", but there is no official "web 2.0" standard. Web 2.0 logos often use small chunks of large type, with bright and cheery colors. Although there are literally hundreds of fonts used by web 2.0 companies, the logos are generally dominated by soft, rounded san serif fonts such as VAG Rounded (Crowdspring) and Helvetica Rounded (Skype). There are, however, numerous exceptions, as some web 2.0 companies have used classic fonts (Trade, News Gothic, Frutinger, Helvetica), while others have chosen to differentiate completely, using fonts like Klavika (Facebook).

Sports

Baseball

See: Baseball uniforms#Graphics and logos and Major League Baseball#MLB uniforms (image of baseball-cap logos of the 30 MLB franchises)


Logos in subvertising

The wide recognition received by the most famous logos provides the brand's critics with the possibility of meme-hacking, a process also known as subvertising, turning the marketing message carried by the logo (either in its pristine form, or subtly altered) into a vehicle for an alternative message, frequently highly critical to the brand in question. An example is the AdBusters' corporate flag, a U.S. flag with the stars replaced by major corporate logos.

Virtually all distinctive design elements related to brands or logos can become subjects to subvertising. The best-known organizations subverting established logos and brands are ®™ark and AdBusters.

See also



References

  1. Wheeler, Alina. Designing Brand Identity ©2006 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (page 4) ISBN 978-0-471-74684-3
  2. Herodotus. Histories, I, 94.
  3. A. Ramage, "Golden Sardis," King Croesus' Gold: Excavations at Sardis and the History of Gold Refining, edited by A. Ramage and P. Craddock, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 18.
  4. C. A. Stothard, Monumental Effigies of Great Britain (1817) pl. 2, illus. in Wagner, Anthony, Richmond Herald, Heraldry in England (Penguin, 1946), pl. I.


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