There are four “C’s” that you are told to look for when you pick out a diamond – Clarity, Color, Cut, and Carat – but no one tells you what to look for when you decide (or design) what logo will represent you and your company to the world…until now.
The need to address this came to me today as I was trying to incorporate a client’s, shall we say underdeveloped, logo into a design. This logo is so bad it hurts my brain, but what can I do? I have to incorporate it into the prescribed design requested by the client. In order to ease my future pains, I present to you – clients and designers alike – a simple guide to the five “C’s” of logo design:
Color: The colors chosen for your logo can say a lot. Think about the feel that you are looking for in the logo design. If the look is “retro” maybe look at movie posters from that era. If you’re looking for something in a specific field, check out what colors other companies are using – to stand out use colors that contrast with your competitors. Colorcombos.com is also a great resource if you already have a color in mind and need some help with color harmonies.
Always design your logo with two color schemes in mind – full color & black and white. This applies for you web people, too. Yes, your company is online only, but one day you may need to photocopy something with your logo, or maybe decide to sponsor an event that requires you to dumb down the colors to only black and white. Do it at the beginning so you don’t frustrate yourself later on.
Clarity: Whether your logo is text based, graphics based, or a combination, you want your message heard, or read, with understanding. If your message is lost within itself no one will get it. This doesn’t mean you have to shy away from a complex logo if it is the right solution to your branding goals, just keep the focus on what your message will be. Have you seen the logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? Look at it closely and you can see that the logo shape actually forms “2012,” but don’t look to long or you might start convulsing. The metaphor is lost in the goat rodeo of color and shape.
Composition: Balance. Balance. Balance. Design 101 comes into play here. Your design does not need to be symmetrical, but it does need to be balanced. Think of a balance scale with weights on it. If you have a one-pound block on one side, and one 1/4 pound block, two1/8 pound blocks, a 1/2-pound block on the other side, it will have more pieces on one side, but still be balanced. The same is true for your design; juxtapose a large single element with a quantity of smaller elements to achieve aesthetic equality.
Compatibility: What is the final output for your logo? Logos get reproduced in arenas that we tend to forget about. Sure your company is solely web based, but one day you may want a sign, a t-shirt, giveaways, awards, billboards, vehicle wraps, or even corporate sponsorship with your prized logo on it. Think about the logo going on these items and ask yourself: What colors look good behind my logo? What color is horrible behind my logo? Should I have a vector logo instead of a raster logo? Hint: always choose vector unless there is a really good reason not to.
Content: What does your logo say – literally and metaphorically? There are some fantastic logos out there that are pure text, and there are some logos that a gorgeous by just being metaphoric. Some of the strongest logos choose to combine these elements. For example look at amazon.com’s logo. Simple text based logo with a yellow metaphoric swoosh. What does that swoosh mean? Well it might be smile, or is it an arrow pointing from a to z?
Now you are ready go forth and choose (or design) a competent logo. With every logo you look at, remember the five “C’s”: Color, Clarity, Composition, Compatibility, and Content. Good luck, and happy branding!
In the wake of Pizza Hut becoming “The Hut” another familiar name is dropping that little part that says anything about what they do. RadioShack is migrating into “The Shack.”
Why would both of these companies shorten their name to two words most people would use to describe a scary building in the woods behind their house – yes, that one; the building that at one time held tools, but over the decades has just turned into a decrepit place that features in the local children’s ghost stories.
A recent report from Wailin Wong of the Chicago Tribune cites some reasons for the change:
“Companies rename themselves for a variety of reasons. William Lozito, president of Minneapolis-based brand-naming company Strategic Name Development, calls RadioShack’s move a “name-ectomy” […] The shortening is a nod to the abbreviated, text-message-driven nature of youth culture, Lozito said.
“For RadioShack, what the heck do they have to lose?” he said. “They have to become more relevant. There’s very little downside to giving up ‘radio’ — who buys radios anymore?”
It’s as if these corporate execs are trying to get hip to what the young kids are doing by just changing their name. What’s next, will we be calling the White House “The House” so that these youngins can remember the name of where “The Prez” lives? Shortening your name works for some companies – Kentucky Fried Chicken shortened to KFC. Why did KFC work as a shorter name…because everyone was already calling it that. I have NEVER heard anyone refer to RadioShack as “The Shack.” I have heard a large amount of colorful names associated with the electronics store, but never that one.
RadioShack in Canada was bought out by Circuit City and renamed “The Source by Circuit City,” after Circuit City’s liquidation another company purchased the franchise and named it “The Source.” This makes sense. The Source says they have solutions to my problems, and I can get what I need by going there. The Shack sounds like I’m getting spare parts from my cousin’s junk computer collection – ooh, look! Punch cards and reel-to-reel recorders, fun!
There’s an entertaining post about the RadioShack’s rebrand on The Y Marketers Blog. I agree with them. I can’t count the number of times I would walk into a RadioShack, and ask if they have something only to be told they never carried it. Then 5 minutes later find what I was looking for and proceed to explain to the staff what the part was, what it does, and that, yes, they have a whole shelf dedicated to it. Facing this new economy isn’t about slapping a trendy band-aid on your brand and hoping that people will flock to your establishment because it’s hip. RadioShack is having trouble because it’s letting the consumer down on their needs – Give your stores a facelift, pay attention to the market, and look for legitimate long-term solutions.
When you think of the Nickelodeon television station a familiar splat may come to mind, but not anymore. Nickelodeon has decided to rebrand for it’s 30th anniversary eliminating all signs of the splat that reminded us of so many shows from our youth – Double Dare, You Can’t Do That On Television, etc. That’s right, the fun, iconic, dare I say sophomoric splat that defined more than one generation of TV audiences is now circling the drain.
The reason for this as explained by Nick and MTV Network’s Kids and Family Group president, Cyma Zarghami, is:
“The decision to streamline the network identities came after they started putting all of the channels’ logos on the same business card—and decided that it looked like a mess. We wanted to clean it up and allow Nick to be the stamp on all of these channels… In asking ourselves if everything could live under the splat, we decided that the splat was dated. It just couldn’t be done in a streamlined way”
Now that we’ve heard from the brass, lets hear some critiques from their target audience:
Eleven-year-old: “I think the old logo is more exciting for kids. I like the splatter because it looks alive. The new logo is too boring and lacks detail. Being lower case it doesn’t stand out on the poster examples. I do like the Teen Nick look a lot though.”
Fourteen-year-old: “The old logo is more kid friendly and represented who Nick is much better. The new logo is too plain, boring and not as much fun. Does that mean they are doing away with sliming? The Teen Nick logo is better than the new Nickelodeon. At least Teen Nick shows personality.”
And there you have it, out of the mouths of babes…
There has been much debate over what the connection between the lower case “i” and it’s dot is meant to represent – Is it an abstraction of a child? Is it a lame attempt to incorporate the splat somewhere? If you read through some of the comments from other blogs you will see the humorous outcries from the public; it seems this new “arcade retro” logo is a little too web 2.0 trendy for most people, and overall lacking in a more timeless and child friendly design aesthetic.
In the wake of the transitioning brands for Nickelodeon one thing should not be overlooked; that is the childlike simplicity in the 1984 logo design by Scott Nash and Tom Corey for Fred/Alan Inc. It was adapted, developed, and refined for 25 years, one thing is for certain – this new logo will not last nearly as long.
Roaming the aisles of Target over the last few months you may have noticed a “new” brand on the shelves. Target Corp is adding “up & up” to their list of exclusive brands, which already include Archer Farms, Market Pantry, Choxie, Sutton & Dodge, and Wine Cube. According to a May report by Nicole Maestri of Reuters this rebranding will affect the Target brand line used for sunscreen, tissues, diapers, and other household products.
Reuters also reports:
“According to a study commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, three out of 10 consumers said they are “buying more store brand products” compared with a year ago.”
The redesign has taken the old bulls-eye logo, normally seen in white or red, and morphed the entire brand to feature bright colors, a soft-edge arrow, and the new name, “Up & Up.” The newly repackaged products started hitting shelves in March. By the time the rebranding is complete, some time this autumn, it will include roughly 730 items across 40 product categories.
I think the rebrand will help Target Corp get market share. The old bulls-eye logo was a little anti-climactic for current packaging trends. This new branding vision adds a fresh look to the packaging and a more upbeat look to the brand. Let’s hope that the name is just reminiscent of the phrase “on the up and up” and not a foreshadowing for the pricing structure.
Pizza Hut has decided to rebrand to The Hut, add an in-house TV channel, and fight it’s junk food status. The reason for the change is partially an attempt to recapture the over 35 crowd, who does not frequent the restaurant like they did in the good, old, sticky-red-checkerboard-tablecloth-days. Pizza Hut is also trying to create “home meal replacement solutions,” and a healthier menu.
It is reported that the name change was prompted in order to connect with the mobile generation, we’ve seen this with Pepsi Co. changing Mountain Dew to Mtn DEW. We’re well on our way to the world exhibited in Mike Judge’s 2006 film, Idiocracy, where English has been dumbed-down to a almost Neanderthal level.
Many people have associated the new change with Jabba the Hutt, and the spoof Pizza the Hutt. The new logo keeps the iconic roof detail, which newer generations may not understand, as less of the Pizza Hut buildings actually carry this roofline. Personally, it reminds me of a bloated Spy vs Spy fedora.
We’ll have to see if Pizza Hut goes full force ahead with this new moniker, which is being tested throughout the country. Judging from the public outcry it might be another case study like the Tropicana debacle. If you want to see some of these comments check out echodemic.blogspot.com, and blasphemes.blogspot.com.
Have you noticed your favorite premium brands looking more and more like generic brands? We started noticing around January that there were changes here and there, but now it’s everywhere. Is this in response to the economy – are premium companies thinking you’ll remain loyal to them if they look cheaper? Some redesigns are tastefully done. Like the examples shown on IDY Creative’s blog from January 27th. The same blog touts a what-were-they-thinking moment for Tropicana, with a link to a New York Times article detailing the rise and fall of the PepsiCo subsidiary’s package rebranding. I didn’t know it was possible for package design to jump the shark, but since the time of IDY’s January 27th post Ritz has, and sister snack Oreo was not far behind. A redeeming package design aesthetic for parent company Kraft Foods, Inc. is the latest version of the Lunchables package…now if they were only more earth friendly.