Purpose of Logo and Principle of Logo Design
In the past several years, i realized i have a heart for logos. Probably because the nature of logo's simplicity, and often geometrical elegance, and my personal penchant toward these qualities.
Purpose of Logos
Logos, is a graphical representation of a entity. It is the visual analog of names. Logos are particularly important in our modern, capitalistic, corporate environment. Look around you, you can find tens of logos in your immediate surrounding, and recognize each of them or the company, without conscious thinking.
Logo is not a fashion statement. It has strong ties with marketing and public perception, which is a general property to anything representative, such as book covers, corporation's names, your attire.
Principles of Logo Design
Bad Logos: Generic
A good logo is not something generic, even if it is beautifully rendered.
Early logo of GNU HURD OS
Early logo of Python
Good Logos: Symbolic
One quality of good logo is that it is reminiscent to what it represents. Here are some good examples:
GNU's gnu head.
Microsoft Windows's window.
Apple's bitten apple.
Red Hat's red hat.
X-Window's sharp X.
GnuPG's lock with wings.
Be media's eye-ear.
NeXT's geometrical cube.
BSD's BSD daemon.
GNU Hurd's recursive arrows.
Wikipedia's puzzle-piecing globe.
Taco Bell's bell.
Yamaha's tuning forks.
Good Logo: Distinct
Sun Microsystems's symmetric SUN blocks.
ATT death star.
General Electric cursive font
ATI Technologies (computer graphics chips)
Coca-Cola cursive font
Good logo should be distinct, a impression lock, even if it isn't reminiscent of what it represents. For example: AT＆T's death star (globe connotation), Apache Webserver's plume (panache). General Electric's curlicue typeface in circle. Even typeface alone can do very good if in distinctive style: IBM stripped blue, Coke drink's cursive typeface, ATI's high-tech typeface, ebay and yahoo's colorful typefaces.
Note that many of the good logos mentioned above are in fact designed by renowned graphics artists.
Note that the logo of popular corporations are not necessarily good. Examples are: SONY, JVC, TOSHIBA, RCA, Microsoft, Google. These are just simple typefaces that are unremarkable.
Good Logo: Simple
Good logo should not be overly complex. It shouldn't be photographic or complex drawings.
Besides all the above general principles, a good logo has some artistic merits and quality in its execution. Good logos are often created by experienced graphics designers who have years of experience. A ugly drawing, even if satisfying all the above principles, does not make a good logo.
- The Unix Pestilence (A gander into unix info tech industry and a logo tour)
- Unix Tools and Software (Unix Apps logo tour)
- Lambda Logo Tour
- Lisp Needs a Logo
- Frequently Asked Questions about Logo and Lettering Design By Scott Kim. At
http://www.scottkim.com/graphicdesign/faq.html(local copy Scott_Kim_graphicdesign_faq.txt)
- Graphic Design by Scott Kim By Scott Kim. At
http://www.scottkim.com/graphicdesign/index.html[internet archive https://web.archive.org/web/20131031125056/http://scottkim.com/graphicdesign/index.html ]
- History of the Tuning Fork Mark By Yamaha. At https://www.yamaha.com/en/about/history/logo/
- Logo Doctors: AT＆T's Not-So-New Logo By Rob Giampietro, Kevin Smith, Businessweek.
- Wikipedia article: Logo.
- History of wikipedia's logo: Wikipedia:Logos and slogans.
- A Tale of Two Seahawks (hilarious essay on NFL football Seattle Seahawks's logo change)
- Scott Kim
In addition, your local libraries probably have many books about logos and logo history. Alternatively, ask a friend who is a full-time professional graphics designer, or a art student, she'll probably show you colorful books and periodicals and logo collections, and logo design social awards etc you didn't know existed.
PS: Logos, as a subject among human animal's activities and histories, is rather a trivial subject. And, of course, different person can have different esthetic tastes. Nor are logos a critical matter in view of the whole human endeavor. However, a minimal understanding of logos, and logo's design principles, is good to have as a general knowledge in our complex modern society inundated with computer graphics and corporate logos. (actually, recently i found out that there are academicians who calk up the issue to a term visual literacy with full discourse, which i think is overboard.)