The first thing that leapt out at me with this assignment among the myriad of detail was colour. Its colour, and its combinations, which acts as a cue to remembering details, just think of how often red and yellow are used for example. The obvious choices are McDonalds and Shell petrol, but what about Lipton Tea, DHL or the Soviet Hammer and Sickle? Here the predominant colour is red, chosen not for so much for its value as symbolising danger but for passion.
New Design Group in their essay The Psychology of Colour in Advertising state that;
‘Red is associated with passion and love but its strong intensity also signifies excitement, determination and courage.’
And of yellow that;
‘Yellow is bright, reminiscent of the sun and full of energy. It also signifies playfulness, amusement, curiosity and happiness…’
It’s easy to see why these two colours are often combined in logo’s especially fast foods.
The issue with colour is that once you start looking you soon start seeing patterns, and very few companies go beyond the three colour palette. The other factor to consider is that any logo or brand must be simple in shape for it to be effective, for it serves three purposes;
1. Identifies the brand and all that it is – Rolls Royce and NASA are two classic examples.
2. It’s easily identifiable and stands out from the crowd – Pam Am hit the nail on the head with Ivan Chermayeff’s iconic design as have Levi jeans.
3. Its simple in design and colour palette – remember the rainbow Apple logo? It stayed with the company for 21yrs (1977 -1998) before being replaced with a simpler design.
In the Ambrose and Harris’s The Fundamentals of Graphic Design branding is described as:
‘The creation of a visual identity [that] seeks to take key behavioural characteristics of an organisation & use them to build an image that can be presented to target customers, other stakeholders and the world at large’.
This is something that big company’s have done throughout the years and done well; IBM, Paramount, John Deere and Land Rover are examples of emotive branding, targeting the consumer as well as present innovative companies to the prospective investor.
IBM, or International Business Machines is a great example of this, starting out making food slicers and time card punching machines at the turn of the Twentieth Century to being leaders of AI in the Twenty First. Yet its logo has remained pretty much the same, signifying stability, which is what both consumer and investor like.
No where else do we see such staunch use of branding as in the field of engineering, be it agricultural or motor. John Deere has built up quite the reputation in the field of agriculture. Their green tractors are as synonymous with quality to the farmer and farming to the casual observer. The same can be said for the Land Rover ellipse, and the JCB rectangle.
Ultimately brands and logos are the result of careful study by the marketing teams who factor in such as aspects as corporate identity, products and brands, company values, consumer perceptions and preferences, competition, quality and trust. Then a designer is approached and had the unenviable task of designing a suitable logo.
For some the results are iconic, the Nike Swoosh, Coca Cola, IKEA are good examples. However there are always the not so good, and even the greatest design houses can have an off-day, Wolff Olins 2012 London Olympic Games logo is case in point. Proof that a logo has to have mass appeal to be successful, and to have mass appeal it must be readily recognisable. As Olins himself said on logos’:
‘[Logo’s] serve the same purpose as religious symbols… they encapsulate and make vivid a collective sense of belonging and purpose’.
Sadly if they’re too abstract, as the 2012 London Olympic Games logo was seen to be, then they fail in achieving the first hurdle of their brief.
For me, the factors that make a logo stick in my mind are those that are easy to recall and associate with a particular colour; red – Coca Cola, green – John Deere, blue – Ford and yellow – Shell.
There there’s physical design, the simpler the shape the easier it is to recognise; Chanel, Nike and Levi and Channel Four are great examples.
So it would appear that logo’s that are the simplest in design are those that tend to stick in our minds the most. Thought there will always be the one that stick out for the wrong reasons.
Pinterest Logo Board – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/Benjskipper/logos/
The Psychology of Colour in Advertising –
Ambrose, G, and Harris, P, (2009), The Fundamentals of Graphic Design, AVA Academia, London.
Olins, W, (1989), Corporate Identity, Thames & Hudson, London