From time to time, our logo design company is asked to explain the elements that make up a logo. Does every logo include an icon? Can we include your brand’s initials in the logo? How about the whole name of your organization? Should I tell you my daughter’s favorite color?
After more than a decade designing ’em up, we’re breaking down the elements of a logo. This way, you will know exactly what you’re getting when you work with a logo design company.
First, let’s clarify what a logo is. A logo is a symbol of your brand, an identity piece for your business. Keep in mind that a logo is not, in any way, shape, or form, your entire brand. Your brand is a lot bigger than any one element, and if you’re interested in learning more about what a brand is (you should be!), you can dive into that ball of wax in our blog about branding.
Back to logos.
A well-designed logo is a professional and polished representation of your business. It communicates certain facets of your business to all who see it. And it can work in conjunction with your brand support to cultivate a certain perception about your organization. Much of your brand support will be based on the design of your logo. So while the logo is not the end all be all, it is a crucial piece of the branding puzzle.
That said, don’t put too much weight on your logo itself. That is, until you see all of the brand support that will surround the mark. Just viewing a single solitary logo standing alone makes it tough to envision the greatness that your brand will be. We know that. But hopefully, you can trust the branding company you hired, and allow them (us!) to bring the vision for your brand to life.
Okay, now let’s get into the elements of a logo. That’s what you came here for, right?
A logo may or may not contain an icon. These days, it’s a bit more important to have an icon than in days past, simply because of that thing that has stolen way too much of our time — social media.
An icon is defined as a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. Basically, it’s a design, or a mark, that typically is representative of your brand in some way. Check out our example below of the logo icon we developed for Franklin Juice Co.
Sometimes your logo icon is part of your logo, and must always be paired with the logo type. But other times it is just a secondary symbolic mark for your brand, that may be used independently.
Ideally, your logo design company will create your logo with an icon in mind, so you end up with a full logo and a recognizable icon. Nowadays, a really important application for your logo is online. Your logo will be used for branding teeny, tiny images online (think about it living in the corner of your social post or as your profile picture). So if your brand will need to command a strong social media presence, you’ll need a logo icon.
As your organization gains brand recognition, your icon might be able to stand alone as a representation of your brand. This is the holy grail of branding. Ok, maybe not the holy grail, but we do strive for brand awareness that allows certain elements to be recognized out in the wild without all of the accompanying support.
Take Starbucks, for example—their icon is almost always used in place of their full logo. In this blog, we walked through the evolution of the Starbucks logo from a full typographic + icon logo into a stand-alone icon. Read about it, dream about it, and then let’s make it happen for your brand.
The logo type is the font set, or typography, associated with your logo. Almost always, your logo type is the full or partial name of your brand. After a while, and after a few brand updates, a logo icon may be able to stand alone and not require logo type; however, a new business logo should almost always have a strong logo type.
If your logo includes logo type, the fonts that are used in your logo may likely also be your brand fonts. Keep in mind that your brand as a whole may also be comprised of supporting fonts that are complementary to the fonts in your logo type.
Side Note: Font selection for a brand is no easy feat. Our design team is especially skilled at pairing fonts and creating a cohesive, yet interesting experience for viewers.
Your font set is a good way to quickly gauge how good your logo is. If the fonts in your font set came out of Microsoft Word by convenience and not by choice (we’ll admit, there are some really good ones in there), it might be time for a redesign. Also, if you don’t know the name of the fonts used in your logo type, it’s probably time for a logo redesign.
Let’s talk a little bit more about fonts for a sec.
When we create a logo for a client, there are often costs associated with the fonts we use to create the logo. Upon completion of the project, you (the client) do own the logo, but you don’t own the fonts. They are licensed. So, the question we run across from our clients is: “Can we just use free fonts to create the logo and avoid any added cost?”
There are millions of free fonts online that we could use when we design a logo, but the problem with free fonts is that some are also very popular. This means that if we use a free font, there is a good chance that font is already being used in another logo somewhere else. Usually, this is fine, but you’ll want to avoid this in your same industry. If you and your competition both are using the same font, you’re going to run into a (literal) identity crisis.
Free fonts are not bad, and our logo design company actually uses a lot of them in our logo creations, but it’s important for you as the client to be informed of your options.
When we move into purchased fonts, we know we are getting something that is most often times more unique. Purchased fonts are often usually more professionally created, so their curvatures, ligatures, and spacing are more refined. Purchased fonts increase the uniqueness of the entire logo design, and dependent on your company situation, may be necessary.
At times, dependent on the size and growth model for your company, you can even consider having a font designer create a custom font set for your brand that is one of a kind. This is expensive and extremely custom, but the result is what a logo design company’s dreams are made of!
Regardless of whether or not your logo has an icon, type, or both, your logo will always have a color set (yes, black and white are colors). Similar to the font set, your color set includes all of the brand-appropriate colors that are used in your logo.
Because of the psychology behind color, colors affect how a brand is perceived. This is why your final color set doesn’t come down to a personal preference. Color is very important; being thoughtful about this element as you’re developing your logo is hugely beneficial for the longevity of your brand. In fact, the majority of the time, brand colors are determined during the logo development process.
At Nice Branding Agency, we take color psychology into account during the design process. Incorporating this strategy with our strong graphic design capabilities ensures that your logo will be both aesthetically pleasing and in line with the emotions you’re hoping to convey.
When we complete a logo development project, we provide our clients with a logo guidelines sheet. This is a one-pager that highlights the features of the logo and outlines its appropriate uses. The logo guidelines showcase what fonts are used. They also detail what colors are used (including the CMYK, RGB, PMS, and HEX codes for all of the colors in the color set). And they provide an indication of appropriate setups for the logo. It will show proper arrangements for the typography and icon of the logo, approved colors, and a few indicators of what not to do with your logo, such as stretching it out, changing the colors, or rearranging it.
Based on company size, available budget and client requests, we can and will do more extensive outlines. Here we detail all visual elements of the brand.
Along with the logo guidelines, we send the actual logo files. When we send logo files, we send various setups of the logo so you have a complete suite of resources. We include full-color, black, and white versions of the logo in various file types including JPEG, EPS, and PDF. There are certain uses for each of the file types. So read up on our previous post on file types if you’re interested in learning more about why we’re sending what we’re sending.
If there is a horizontal and a vertical iteration of your logo, we would include those as well. Additionally, if we’ve created a stand-alone icon for the logo, we would include the icon separately as part of your logo files. Not all logos have horizontal and vertical versions. And, as you now know, not every logo includes an icon. But, if we’ve created them, you will get them as part of your logo files.
If you don’t have a complete set of logo files and guidelines on hand, or if you got a little excited about what you just read, it might be time for a logo redesign. An easy way to do a quick check on whether you need a new logo is to go over your colors, files, and fonts, and read up on our blog When It’s Time to Say “Yes” to a Logo Design Company.
Let us know if you come up short once you’ve done your research. We would love to equip you with a logo that can support your brand and the incredible work you do. Send us a shout if you need a hand.
Get Your Nice Swag On.