The shake-up in the U.S. banking and financial industry in the 1990’s led to a rash of mergers and acquisitions. All of these newly constituted entities needed new corporate logos to identify themselves to the marketplace. A company’s logo is a graphic representation of its business. The idea is that over time a well designed identity will become synonymous with your company’s brand. “Branding” has become a popular buzz word today, extending into the world of politics and even into Social Media. A current hot topic is whether Twitter users who allow their names to be associated with sponsored ads will hurt their “brand.” Legendary American advertiser David Ogilvy defined brand as: “the intangible sum of a company’s assets…” That’s a pretty broad definition so let’s try to simplify things a bit. Say you’re driving down the street and you spot an image on a billboard off in the distance. If you can immediately identify the company behind the image and have a positive reaction to it, it’s a great logo. You don’t need to read anything up close; the symbol alone does the job.
Types of Logos
If you’ve been searching the Internet for information on logos it’s easy to end up “dazed and confused.” Types of design elements, services, and software can easily result in information overload. So once again, let’s try to keep it simple. There are three types of logos. In layperson’s terms they are:
Symbols plus Words
For symbols only logos think of Apple Computer. No words needed, the pictorial representation of an apple with a bite out of it gets the message across. For words only, think of Federal Express, or FedEx. The shortened name of the company is graphically enhanced with a little color and boxes and contrast. Interestingly enough, it was the designers of the original image who suggested abbreviating the corporate name to FedEx for the purposes of the logo. It’s worked so well that today “FedEx It” is sometimes used as a verb. The third type of logo is really a pure type and it’s the way many company identities are born. The advantage of the combined approach is the potential that one day the symbol alone will suffice. However, one would argue that the name “FedEx” enclosed in a box actually is a graphic symbol. In any case the common characteristic of well designed symbol plus words is simplicity. Short tag-lines are what you’re looking for. To get an idea of the possibilities, let’s look at the Bank of America financial logo design.
Bank of America
This identity used an American flag for inspiration and that led to the symbol of an inverted square flag. Shown in only three colors, the symbol is totally functional in that it can be reproduced in black and white and in any size without losing it impact. Initially the symbol always appeared centered beneath a graphically enhanced version of the company name. It was introduced in 2004 and it has been so successful that the financial logo can now appear without the name and be recognized as belonging to Bank of America! That’s the power of a great identity.