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Apple Logo1One of the most crucial design decisions for a new company is the logo. Great logos are instantly recognizable and evoke the brand image with just one image. When anyone discusses McDonald’s, Apple, Nike, or NBC, it is hard not to imagine the Golden Arches, iconic apple, or swoosh because they are so deeply ingrained in their corporate image.

Creating a logo that perfect is deceptively difficult to do however. The business world is awash with bad logos that no one will ever remember. There is no magic recipe for a great logo, but there are some rules to follow that will help a logo stick out. I’ve given some tips on logos before, but Sarah Clare from Vandelay Design had some suggestions designers should keep in mind.

One of the most common mistakes is just over-doing the logo. Clean lines and simple contrast are striking and easily able to be replicated in any format, neon sign to stationary. Text can be included but only when necessary, and limit it to the brand name. Even if you’ve been in business for 200 years and you’re doing a logo redesign, your icon isn’t the place to tell people that.

It is hard to understate how important it is that your logo is able to be reproduced anywhere. Something may look good on a computer screen, but logos are sometimes printed on endless materials like pens, paper, mugs, and even mints, and stress balls. You want people to be able to recognize the logo whether it is 1″ x 1″ on a memo, or plastered on a billboard.

While a logo has to be simple, it also has to convey the tone and personality of your business. A high tech company with a childish logo may have trouble convincing potential customers of their abilities, especially because everyone in tech hates comic sans. Usually bright colors are reserved for companies more associated with children as well, but Google’s logo shows why that isn’t a hard rule.

As a business owner, you will see your logo more than you actually see your brand name, or at least it will feel like it. If you want your brand to be successful in the marketplace, you need a logo people will instantly be able to identify and connect with. It seems like a small task, but being lazy on the logo can torpedo a new brand.

You know how sometimes a group of words are thrown around together so much their meaning becomes blurry? If you don’t understand what I mean, think about how you understand brand, identity, and logo. Almost any article about logo design will intrinsically link these three words together without clarifying where the line between each one is. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.

Jacob Cass from Just Creative noticed this and put it upon himself to clarify the differences between brand, identity, and logo, and what each does. Breaking it down simply:

  • Brand is the “perceived emotional corporate image” of the business all together.
  • Identity combines all of the visual aspects that form a brand.
  • Logos identify a business in the simplest form by using icons.
It is a heirarchy in which a logo is part of the visual identity of a company, which helps mold the brand as a whole.

Branding

It is hard to write shortly about branding, as Cass even points out, but to summarize the concept, it is the audience’s idea of a service, product, or organization. Visual aspects of the brand including its marketing and logo can help mold it, but ultimately, the audience decides the shared perception overall. “A designer can’t make a brand […] a designer forms the foundation of the brand”, which the audience then builds upon with their reception of the product and marketing as a whole.

Identity Design

That foundation the brand is built on is it’s identity, or its image. Every business creates sets of visual devices they use to interact with their audience including color palettes, fonts, layouts, etc. Every visual aspect is considered part of the identity, even things like a web page design, and especially the logo.

Logos

I’ve talked quite a bit about logos before, but when it comes down to it, a logo identifies your brand. It becomes one of the most prevalent aspects of the image, and shapes how customers perceive your brand.
According to Cass, a logo doesn’t sell or describe a company, but that is the only aspect of his article with which I don’t completely agree. Once a business is established, their logo is understood by the quality of the company and product it represents. However, for young businesses trying to establish themselves, a quality logo is important in attracting companies by letting them quickly know what that company does and showing they care about how their audience feels about them.

Conclusion

The three are absolutely linked, but when writing about them we often make it unclear what each seperate part really is. Logos affect identities, which set the floor for a brand. All are important, but they are all unique to each other

Online branding ruins everything you thought you knew about branding. It is no longer strictly a marketing activity for multinationals with million dollar budgets. Online branding is simple and practically free.

The internet allows businesses of all sizes to participate with their webpages, secondary sites, social media outlets, and company blogs. These areas are also exactly where it is important to establish a successful branding strategy. But how?

It is first important to remember branding is a lot more than a name and a logo. It is a philosophy encompassing the values and way of doing things. Branding alone can increase the perceived value of any kind of product by creating an image that depicts the product as more than its actual value. Gucci is just a clothing designer, but because of the image cultivated around the brand, their products are perceived as higher value than most others.

Ray Vellest, writer for Web Designer Depot, argues the most important aspect of creating this type of image is consistency. Making sure all of your messages are on point establishes an idea in potential customers’ minds.

People associate Gucci with luxury because they only present images of their products with luxury settings. The people in their ads are always dressed in some form of high fashion, and in an extravagant setting.

Similarly, Louis Vuitton has had a long running campaign of images of pop culture icons with their luggage, and they choose these celebrities carefully. Sean Connery, Madonna, and Keith Richards have all been in ads for Louis Vuitton, and the imagery suggests that of the “rebellious” upper class.

When bringing this strategy online, think digital presence consistency. Start with your username, or profile. Using the same username across the web is a big step towards creating brand consistency online. It brings continuity to interactions customers have with the persona or company through various methods.

Another method of establishing consistency is visually. You begin working with the company’s logo, keeping it absolutely consistent across all platforms. But it is also important to design a secondary logo that will fit within the square profile image space alloted by social media platforms. The second logo has to be a visual continuation of the first.

When interacting with potential customers online, you need to be keeping a consistent voice as well. Many companies have multiple people handling their social media accounts, but their voice needs to match the voice of the company. To do this, define your tone by finding one that matches your brand image. Law firms should maintain a serious and formal tone, while a record store, for instance, has more liberty to be less formal and maybe opinionistic.

By creating a consistent image all across the web, you can begin to cultivate the type of branding that huge corportations spend millions on every year. It is as simple as keeping everything focused in the same direction, and sending the same message.

 

In a constantly changing industry, it can be difficult to predict trends for the future. For designers, this means heightened responsibility during transition periods. Designers have to be able to create client pleasing designs based on what has been popular this year, while also constantly learning new tricks to innovate for what is to come. Hopefully, these predictions can help you be prepared for some trends that should become popular within the next year.

  1. Responsive Web Design – At this point, this prediction is more of a foregone conclusion, as new kinds of mobile and desktop devices are constantly being released into the market. Each device has a unique screen size, proportion, and resolution. To create specific websites for each device would cost you a fortune in time and money, and responsive web designs eliminate all of these problems by responding to the size of the device accessing the page. Designers won’t need too make new layouts for different devices, when a single layout will work smoothly with all devices.
  2. Designed Typography – There have never been more fonts and variations for designers to work with than there is today, and choosing what typography to use is always an important decision. In the next year, it seems this will only become more important  and typography may finally cement its place as an essential part of design. Typography is the foundation of any website, and it is time it received recognition.
  3. Vertical Scrolling – Optimizing websites will continue to lead to crucial decisions for layouts. Many websites are still using vertical and horizontal scrolling, but through the next year vertical scrolling will become dominant. Vertical scrolling is convenient and easy. It also allows implementation of vertically scrolling buttons and header menus. All of these features combined make for user friendly navigation across your entire website.
  4. Big Buttons – More and more sites keep optimizing for “touch and tap” on mobile devices, which means buttons are getting bigger. Originally, these large buttons were being used to try to streamline pages and make them more visually pleasing, but they also make using pages on mobile devices infinitely easier. The only drawback is these large buttons require more graphics, which slow down sites. Hopefully designers can find ways around this, or this prediction may never come to full fruition.
  5. Branding Will Take a Hike – All business want their brand to be recognizable, and the year ahead of us seems more likely to focus on designing the brand, rather than trying to build a website based on the newest trends. Designers will choose things that complement the brand rather than choosing features that seem popular at the moment. It will become more important for designers to focus on translating a webpage business through the webpage and represent the brand’s image.
  6. Parallax Scrolling Will Rise – Parallax scrolling has been around for some time now, but it has mainly been used in video games  This year, it seems likely to finally transition to the web. This feature allows designers to control the depth of design objects on the webpage being designed.

While these are only predictions, many of these seem undeniably likely to come true. By studying what looks likely to become popular, you can be on the cutting edge of web design, rather than always playing catch up.

For examples of these predictions, check out Ali Qayyum’s article at Smashing Hub.