What is the Value of a Logo?

by Steve Zelle, Graphic Designer, Ottawa Canada

What is the Value of a Logo? by Ottawa Graphic Designer idApostle

A logo is often the fastest way to build brand recognition. It is the easiest way to consistently apply a visual brand, and is usually the most powerful single visual or verbal brand asset companies possess—apart from their name. In some cases, where a company suffers the misfortune of a poorly crafted name, the logo can become brand asset number one. How well a logo performs for an organization is often a reflection of the company’s willingness to see it as an investment, one they continually have to nurture.

Without constant investment, a logo can become a visual crutch, a go-to that receives little effort and certainly no evaluation of particular needs. It winds up centered on the top of the letterhead and placed with the same heavy-handedness on every other piece of marketing material. In cases like this, the logo had better scream, “This is how we are different and why you should care about us”—a tall order for any symbol.

Unfair Expectations

It is likely that no other piece of graphic design has the unobtainable expectations placed upon it that most clients have for a logo. Clients widely think that a logo should represent every aspect of their positioning—something just not possible. When attempted, the logo is a tangled mess of ideas without focus, failing to please anyone. Instead, a logo should be designed to provide a glimpse into the brand, a visual clue as to why the audience should care about you. It is a symbol that often avoids depicting what the company does in favor of reflecting a company’s qualities.

It is also often expected that a new logo should have the same impact as known brands. In reality, it takes time for a logo to build associations with its audience, developed through experience with the brand. It is not impossible to think that many of the logos we accept as good today would be swiftly killed if presented by a graphic designer to most clients—would the Google logo survive most committees? Would most companies say yes to simple logos like Nike and Apple without adding just a little bit more?

These examples are successful to a great part because of their ability to work within a larger, ever-changing visual brand. They have developed meaning through time and are now viewed as a stamp of the brand’s promise to its customers. More logos would be successful if the expectations put on them were realistic. A logo should:

  1. Be an honest reflection of the brand’s positioning and promise
  2. Provide differentiation from competitors
  3. Allow for easy recognition and associations
  4. Be based on a strong creative idea
  5. Be able to be used in a variety of ways (black and white, color, large, small)

Creating Trust

A good logo accomplishes all of this, usually through a simple solution without being cliché or trendy. It provides clarity of focus, becoming shorthand for the values of the organization, and the anchor of the visual brand.

Once the audience has an experience with the company, the logo becomes a badge, reflecting their perceived expectations. The company’s behavior, as well as marketing, must then do what they can to influence these perceptions, encouraging the logo to become a trustworthy symbol that the customer can rely on every time, providing a clear competitive advantage.

This article was originally written for More Than A Logo.

Comments have been closed for this post. There are however, a number of thoughtful opinions about it below.

Categories / Branding / Creative Process / Logo Design

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Comments are closed for ‘What is the Value of a Logo?’

  1. Jon Williams says:

    Thank you for the article! Thoughtful pondering of the tangible value of a logo/identity/brand is always appreciated.

    However, I’m not certain that I agree with the need for a logo to undergo “constant investment”. Occasional modifications to account for shifting business models, markets and methods of reproduction certainly. But if a logo becomes an ongoing expense surely something was amiss in its creation.

    Investment must be made in continued careful and consistent application and extension of the overall identity system, of which the logo is the most visible totem. And any business that doesn’t monitor and provide ongoing support for their brand perception is asking for trouble. But I’m curious how you propose an organization consistently invest in its logo alone.

    Also, one more thing… recall that the cited Nike and Apple logos have changed over time, and used to have that ‘bit more’. Initially the iconic swoosh was never seen without the associated NIKE logotype. And Apple’s simple, synonymous symbol once wore rainbow stripes (and often a Garamond logotype).

  2. Absolutely—I was speaking (perhaps a little confusingly) of a brand and not the logo requiring constant investment of time and resources.

    Even with the rainbow stripes, and supporting brand names, both the Nike and Apple logos were simple designs that didn’t try to do too much. The strong emotional associations they now have are a result of time (and brand investment). Far too many clients expect a logo to have these connections built in from day one.

    I very much appreciate your taking the time to comment Jon.

  3. Debashis says:

    Very nice article. This would definitely help most designers to understand how much it is important to work and design a logo that really helps the organization to explain what they are for! Certainly a best lesson for the logo designers like me 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nicholas Hammond says:

    Frequently I deal with clients that do not know or even appreciate the value of any type of art let alone a logo. I think nowadays a logo’s effect is even more important than one might think. I agree with the entirety of your article and think logos in general should be placed at a value a lot higher than they are currently.

  5. Brett Widmann says:

    This article nails it! Logos are very important in finding brand loyalty, recognition and even new clients. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks Brett. Kind of you to let me know you enjoyed it.