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What's in a logo?

Slogan explores the function and evolution of logos.

Logos have become an integral part of the corporate identity in the modern age. The moment people see a logo they think of the brand name which further testifies to its significance. You think of the brand name the moment you see the logo. Much effort is put in to create and develop a logo that suits the persona of the company. There is a common misperception that it is very easy to develop a logo. People do not realise that a great effort is put in the development of a logo and the design is put through an exhaustive process of thinking, execution, and testing. Every logo represents the philosophy, business psyche, mission, and vision of the company. Each word, colour, dot, line and even the smallest of detail stands for something. The logo is a major aspect of the branding strategy which the company follows. Logos provide customers with powerful brand recognition and an emotional link.

Every company strives to present a clear, consistent and positive association through its logo. Mercedes-Benz introduced their first logo in 1900 which had the word 'Mercedes' written in white placed in a black oval. The company launched the iconic three-point logo in 1909. The star depicts the vision of the company for universal motorization and reflects their dominance on land, sea, and air.

Companies present a logo in a variety of ways. Some express a deeper meaning while others reveal their point of differentiation. The logo of DHL is a simple design with DHL written in red over a yellow background. DHL appears with a forward slant with three lines added with D and L, which instantly describes their swift cargo delivery.

Companies alter their logos to better suit the changing dynamics of their business and to meet consumer preferences. Even the slightest of change comes after careful analysis, brainstorming and in-depth market research. The first Apple logo designed in 1976 depicts the scene when Isaac Newton discovers gravity. The logo was complex, lacked brand associations and didn't relate to the core business. The company introduced the apple shaped logo in the same year with rainbow stripes. It made further variations in the colour of the apple. The monochrome Apple Inc. logo is in use since 2000 which has become synonymous with a company that offers digital products.

The Animal Planet channel revised their logo in 2008. Previously, their logo had Animal Planet written with an elephant and a globe. The revised logo only has the text written with animalistic boldness. According to the channel, the jungle-like theme uses three shades of green which blends with the channel's animal orientation. The elephant used in the previous logo confined the reach of programming to just elephants or four-legged animals. The new logo gives it a wider persona.

Companies in Pakistan seldom put in an effort to create an appropriate logo. Most companies use plain logos based on lettering with hardly any association with the business philosophy. However, in recent times, efforts have been made to create more in-depth logos. The new Allied Bank logo is a case in point. It has the letter 'A' in dark blue enclosed in an orange box. The swoosh running through the A is a calligraphic form, representing Pakistan's cultural ethos while the enclosing orange box depicts brightness and positivity - something that every bank aspires to sell to its customers. With a history dating back to 1942 and with hundreds of branches across the country, Allied Bank has to do justice to both its traditional and new customer base. It cannot afford to change into one of those modern, high street banks because its fears the original customers would be alienated.

Why do most Pakistani companies create obvious logos instead of rendering a distinctive one with a story behind it? The answer might make us wonder if any creative input ever makes its way into discussions between client and creative agency. Most companies don't follow or even have a broader vision and exist only to generate business. Since they lack vision to grow, they lack the basic concepts of brand building. They are hardly aware of their brand identity since their mission and vision do not translate into something meaningful.

Logos help companies communicate a deeper meaning of their business. The Toyota logo is simple yet it defines the Japanese culture. The three ellipses symbolize the heart of the customer, the product, and the advancements in technology the company has made. The parallel ovals represent the company's trust to its customers and a promise of satisfaction. The ellipses also form the letter 'T'.

Some companies refrain from using any symbolic mark in their logo. Sony has never incorporated any shape or design in its logo. The original logo designed in 1955 based on four letters still serves as its brand identity.

During the 1980s, companies began to render logos with negative space to present something extraordinary. The NBC logo incorporates six colours based on six divisions of the company. The negative space forms a peacock while the colour patterns resemble the tail feathers. The head of the peacock flips to the right to suggest it is looking forward and not backward.

Formula 1 uses the same technique to create the numeric '1' in its negative space which communicates speed. The red represents passion while black signifies power and determination. FedEx also uses negative space with an arrow placed in a forward direction between the letters 'E' and 'X', which represents progressive business and speedy delivery.

Origin of famous brand names


Nestle has its origin in the German word meaning 'little nest.' The company removed the worm from the bird's beak to better illustrate the activities of the company and reflect the average modern family of two children.


The company initially known as Haloid Company had their first logo rendered in 1937. Xerox with an 'X' in the background came out 1949. The company removed all boundaries in 1961 and dropped the 'X'. The logo was altered in 2008 and represents technological innovation.


The first logo was in black and white and read Ford Motor Co. Detroit Mich. The company removed the boundary in 1909 with Ford written in joining font. The company adopted the famous blue oval logo in 1927. The last major change came in 1976. A slight change came in 2003 with the logo better known as 'Centennial Blue Oval.'


In the early years of the brand, lnterbank was represented by the "i" symbol-a straightforward means of identifying participating members of the Interbank Card Association. The name changed to Master Card in 1969with a new logo in red and orange and the two intersecting circles with the letter 'i' retained at the bottom. The 'i' was dropped in 1979 and the logo has remained unchanged since 1996.


The first logo was a mussel shell. In 1904 a scallop shell or 'Pecten" emblem was introduced to give a visual manifestation to the corporate and brand name. The form of the Shell logo has changed gradually over the years in line with trends in graphic design. The current logo was introduced in 1971. It has stood the test of time as one of the world's most recognised symbols.
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Date:Sep 30, 2012
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