What Is A Logo and What is NOT a Logo

Logo (ideogram): Simplified  graphic symbols or elements and typography to represent an idea or concept for a business, organization or enterprise.

The role of a logo is to point, to designate—in as simple a manner as possible, the concept of a message. Thus, a logo is an icon, symbol, or brand mark that represents an idea. It is only by association with an organization, a service, or a product that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes.

A logo can consist primarily of typography that makes the letters distinctive to that business, use of typography with a symbol or icon that represent the industry or an abstract symbol of the company with or without the typography. Think of Nike…we know that swoosh and what company it stands for without seeing the “Nike” name attached.

Logos need to be clean and functional, void of heavy detail and capable of understanding no matter the scale.

Too detailed “artwork” or use of fancy symbols and icons can make a small logo difficult to understand and may lose it’s message where a minimized version of the symbol may present a clearer concept.

 Artistic Labels and Hangtags: Many times a logo can be designed into a more complex design or even a small advertisement “logo” that looks like a logo, but is more on the lines of a label or hangtag. These designs can also be very elaborate and full of artistic and graphical elements, but the more complex the design becomes, the less of a logo it appears.

Take a look at the labels and hangtags to the right, and you decide which designs look more like a logo and which designs appear to be a label or hangtag. The more elaborate the design and less symbolic the icon, graphic element or symbol the more the design begins to take on the characteristics of a graphic design or artistic creation and less like a logo.

Illustrations can still remain simple in their construction and still be incorporated with typography to create a simple logo, but once several special effects, layering, shading, depth and details are added the less of a logo the work becomes and the more of an art or graphic design it turns into.

The key to a successful logo design is the test of simplicity and a minimized conceptual design. Less is better when it comes to a logo that gets the point across while making a visual impact on what the business represents.