de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
company logo is used to assert a company's identity.
Branding (coherent logo, text style, and visual
style) helps to create a sense of confidence in
a company, and also ensures that users recognise
a company from simple visual cues.
article presents some of the important issues surrounding
Defining your company's visual identity is a significant
step in generating confidence and loyalty. Many
companies, large and small, spend too few resources
and time on designing their logo, and yet a well
designed logo will quickly express many positive
attributes of your business.
It is however very easy to overestimate the impact
that visual identity has in contributing to a company's
perception as a credible, solid, and professional
outfit. The bottom line is that the quality and
value of a company's services and/or products, and
their associated support will sell the company.
Logos do not sell products, they do however play
a significant role in solidifying the customers
loyalty to the company and can help position the
company in the marketplace.
Logos come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Many
logos are text-based like those of Sony and IBM.
In these scenarios, the logos may have a distinctive
text treatment like the colour and shading:
logos seek to sum up the nature of the company's
business graphically. These are often simplified
pictorial logos like the BMW logo below. Note how
BMW support their pictorial element with text:
abstract graphical symbols like Nike's swoosh rely
heavily on public recognition of their logo as it
contains no visual clues as to what the nature of
the business is, nor the name of the business.
general, an effective logo is often built from simple
graphical 'gestures' or geometric shapes: lines,
circles, squares, and triangles.
The First Step
As well as delivering AbleStable, I'm also a Director
of 2BrightSparks and recently redesigned the
logo. One of the first things I had to be very
clear about was to articulate the essential message
wanted the logo to convey. That message would be
that the user was central to the software we deliver.
the case of 2BrightSparks it was important
logo was designed to work well at a very small
size as we provide software products and the
is a default size in Windows. The challenge therefore
was to create a distinct and recognizable logo,
while at the same time making it sophisticated
enough to work at larger scales and in black
The design of the 2BrightSparks logo uses three
elements: the lower triangular shaped section
the figure; rounded squares; and circles. The smooth
lines provide a sense of calm that offsets the
of the figure. Angles in graphic design can convey
a sense of tension.
also a subtle psychological message that might go
unnoticed on a conscious level, but may be why people
feel positive when viewing the logo. Look at the
'user' element in the centre and you'll notice there's
an arc that's formed immediately below the head
of the figure (technically referred to as 'negative
space' in graphic circles). This arc is in the shape
of a smile. This together with what is a welcoming
gesture from the figure, sets off unconscious positive
reactions to the logo in the mind of the viewer.
are additional subconscious associations certain
shapes also convey, but a word of warning here:
different cultures have different interpretations
of symbols. In the West the following applies:
The circle is protective or infinite
• The square denotes stability, equality,
• The triangle suggests action
For all this, the logo also has to look attractive...
It's important to keep a logo design very simple
as it needs to function well in a variety of contexts:
a website; business cards; stationary; office signage
etc. A good logo should be scalable, easy to reproduce,
memorable and distinctive. Logos may also need to
be reproduced in black and white so they can be
faxed, photocopied or used in a black-and-white
Another important guideline is not to introduce
too many colours into logos as that will incur additional
printing costs. You may also wish to trademark your
logo to protect it from use by other companies.
Commissioning a designer to produce a logo can cost
as little as $100 to as much as $20,000. If you
pay peanuts, don't expect too much. Whatever you
end up paying, try to ensure you, and as many people
as possible, get the opportunity of viewing some
drafts of the logo with the purpose of providing
feedback about them. Be mindful that if the designer
doesn't get a real feel for your business, they'll
not be able to express what your business does graphically.
It's advisable to find a designer with a track record
of logo design as the skills to make an effective
logo are very different than for many other graphic
design projects. You should also be aware of the
scope and length of the logo usage (see 'Rights
At AbleStable we've a special page in our directory
of creative professionals under Logo
Design and Branding where you'll find some specialists.
Ask your logo designer what file types are included
in their price. The most common file types needed
are IA (Illustrator) and EPS for most professional
print jobs. These are vector format files. These
files should be in a CMYK colour format. Printers
will often also accept PDF files but you'll need
to check this with your own printer. For some print
jobs TIFF and BMP files are also appropriate. These
are bitmap files and should have a DPI (dots per
inch) of at least 300 dpi, but preferably 600dpi.
last file types you'll need are PNG, JPEG, and GIF.
These are pixel files and are used primarily for
web design. They should be in RGB colour format.
Be aware that not all colours translate well on
the Internet, especially GIF files. Ask if the logo
designer used web safe colours, and review the results
in an HTML page.
You should also receive all rights (copyrights)
to your logo for the life of the logo. Ask for this
in writing if you have any doubts when you sign
the contract with the logo designer. Some designers
might negotiate fewer rights or usage's to your
logo to help save you money. You should ensure you
may renegotiate all rights and usage's at a later
date should you be able to financially afford it.
Whether you're an individual designer
or a multinational corporation, a logo is a crucial
tool for encouraging a sense of credibility and
professionalism in the minds of your existing clients
and potential customers. Effective logos are a lot
easier to remember than a new name. You may have
the expertise to develop your own logo, but you'll
find it's a lot harder than you anticipate. It's
often the simplest of things that take the most