Just out of curiosity, check yourself – what is the first flash in your mind when you hear or read Coca-Cola, Adidas, Nike, Sony, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Disneyland, UPS, FedEx, McDonalds? Right, once the business logo gets popular globally, people start recalling the company by its logo only. History says that the globally renowned Playboy magazine once received a letter at its Chicago, Illinois offices with its distinctive “bunny” logo as the only identifying mark, appearing at the mailing address spot.
A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).
Numerous inventions and techniques have contributed to the nowadays logo, including cylinder seals (c.2300 BCE), coins (c.600 BCE), trans-cultural diffusion of logographic languages, coats of arms, watermarks, and silver hallmarks.
But the history of contemporary logo started when English immigrant William Procter, a candlemaker, and Irish immigrant James Gamble, a soapmaker (who both settled in Cincinnati in the midst of XIX century and who both married sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris), formed the company to produce inexpensive candles and soap. Alexander Norris, their father-in law, called a meeting in which he persuaded his new sons-in-law to become business partners because they both needed the same raw material – animal fat. On October 31, 1837, as a result of the suggestion, Procter & Gamble was born.
Companions’ products, obviously, were not unique, but the quality was a little bit better and the price was a little bit cheaper. Step by step, the shop owners of the area started prefer Procter & Gamble stuff against the other manufacturers. William and James would probably never thought about their company special sign, if one day in 1851, Procter paid his attention to the crude crosses that illiterate barge workers on the Ohio River painted on boxes with soap and stars – on the boxes with candles, to identify them. But after one vendor returned all products back to the company only because the boxes were not marked with familiar sign, which was very suspicious, no one box left the company’s doors not having the logo. Religious Procter eliminated crosses and altered this symbol into a trademark that showed the man in the moon overlooking thirteen stars, which were meant to commemorate the original thirteen colonies. (In the 1980s there were a lot of speculations that the moon-and-stars logo was a satanic symbol, but this is a different story.)
Also, we cannot help mentioning that as radio became very popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the company (as a part of its marketing campaign) sponsored a number of radio programs. As a result, these shows often became commonly known as “soap operas”. When the medium switched to television in the 1950s and 1960s, most of the new serials were sponsored and produced by Procter & Gamble. Two of them, As the Words Turns and Guiding Light are still on the air.
We hope the story we have told you gave you a general idea about three main functions of a logo:
- to visually communicate what the company does or provides
- to create a memorable and recognizable mark in peoples mind for future encounters
- to guarantee quality of the products or services
One well-known fact: when Phil Knight started Nike, he was trying to find a mark as recognizable as the Adidas stripes. He hired a young student, Carolyn Davidson, to design his logo, paying her $35 for what has become one of the best known marks in the world (she was later compensated again by the company).
Your logo is like a face of the company to the whole world. The human mind remembers images and pictures before they will remember a name. It’s all about memory tricks. Most people can associate your logo with your business a lot easier than with your company name. This is probably the most important reason why any business needs a business logo. Even some countries whose tourism sector makes up a large portion of their economy such as Spain, Italy, Turkey or the Bahamas Islands have logos that identify them in marketing their country. A business name is very important but it will never be as catchy as a great logo. That’s why, currently, the usage of both image (ideogram) and name (logotype) is widely spread.
Think carefully if you are creating a logo, design it to stay for long because it cannot be changed frequently. It must be unique and accepted worldwide regardless geographical location or ethnic group. Your logo is your business asset and long-term investment. Sure, you may change your logo through the years – “changing with the times” – but not dramatically. Through the past 50+ years Pepsi and Coke have modified their logos, but just a little bit. So, it must be kept in mind that whether online or in print, the appearance of your logo should be the same.
Funny thing happened to the FedEx logo, where the brand consultants persuaded the company to shorten their corporate name from “Federal Express” to the popular now abbreviation “Fed Ex”. By doing that, they reduced the amount of color used on vehicles (planes, trucks) and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in paint costs. Also, the right-pointing arrow in the new logo is a good hint of motion.
Logos could be business-makers or business-breakers. They have proven to work both ways – good or bad. If your logo is confusing and ugly, a customer might remember you as such. If a client has already had an experience one way or another with your company, from that moment on, that person’s memory will remember your business logo and associate it with that experience. There is nothing worse than a great business that is easy to forget.
Although Color should not be an integral component to the logo design, it is very important to brand recognition. For instance, in Canada white and read are used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with health foods or environmental protection. Coca-Cola’s script is known worldwide, but is best connected with the color red. The Western Union logotype is recognizable from afar because of its yellow-and-black color. And we could continue … ad infinitum.
A logo could be dynamic. The best example is the Michelin Man, a cartoon figure who was presented in many different ways, such as eating, drinking, and playing sports and was first introduced in 1898 by tire manufacturer, Michelin.
Please remember, the logo of your company must be placed very wisely. It has to be used at all prominent spots, on your website and every banner, email, letterhead or invoice. It is also very helpful in Internet marketing, as it travels with its prospects every time.