What does your logo say about you?  Your logo is your company encapsulated into an image.  It becomes the identification mark with which the marketplace associates your company.

Tim Gray’s article in Young Entrepreneur states, “Your logo is the most powerful and immediately identifiable part of your brand. Properly done, a logo instantly communicates and reflects your company’s personality. It also connects with your consumers. Done poorly, a logo can turn people off to your business and damage your reputation before you’ve had a chance to make your pitch.”

Once you create a logo, is it set in stone forever?  No, many major brands have recreated their logo as the company evolved.  Apple, Starbucks, Pepsi Cola and Nike have continued to adjust their image.  IBM made a dramatic logo and name change; however, their current logo has been in place for nearly forty years.

Creating the company logo is as significant a part of the business image as the company name. Even though you make the best decision possible at the time, “everybody makes branding mistakes. Early missteps in retrospect often are as big as the eventual names of some of the companies who made them — Google was originally called Back Rub, Pepsi-Cola was known as Brad’s Drink, and IBM started out as Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, to name just a few” states Gray in his “Logo Mishaps of Giant Brands” article.

Apple started with an intricate, confusing and uninteresting design in comparison to the clear, crisp and definitive current apple design.  They not only took a bite out of the apple, they have now taken a significant bite out of the entire technology industry.  Note the new logo is more in keeping with the clarity and simplicity of the Apple product line.  Co-founder Ronald Wayne’s 1976 original design was replaced within a year.  Apple icon Steve Jobs demanded a logo redesign which would be easier to stamp on computers.

Starbucks is another giant who simplified their original design.  The modern green logo is not only less complicated but also the siren’s attributes are less obvious than the 1970s version.  Note also that the original logo displayed coffee, tea and spices where the new logo does not mention any products.  The new logo portrays a more conservative, contemporary and environmentally green image.

The Logo Design Workbook by Adams Morioka provides a hands-on guide to creating logos.  Not only does it detail the types of logos but also the ten rules of logo design.

  1. Who, what, why
  2. Identify, not explain
  3. Understand limitations
  4. Be seductive
  5. Make mnemonic value
  6. Pose a question
  7. Design for longevity
  8. Make the logo the foundation of a system
  9. Design for a variety of media
  10. Be strong

Logo design should move easily from one media to another.  Color choices are significant.  Your printed media marketing allows you to be precise about your color representation; however, various online browsers may unintentionally distort your logo color.  Even though testing your logo on various browsers helps, the color is never as pure and accurate as in your printed marketing media.  And when it comes to maximizing the effect of print, there is nothing else that can be more comprehensive, stay durable and portable and yet still possess aesthetic charm than printing your own postcards.  You do not need a marketing or business degree to know that your logo needs to be clear and consistent in all of your marketing media.  After all, it’s what binds your brand identity kit together.

Rebranding, changing your identifying image, can not only be expensive, it also carries a risk factor.  “A company’s brand is a succinct but comprehensive embodiment of everything the company stands for. The best logos are recognizable, memorable and let you know what the company is about with just a glance.”

What if the new logo is not well received in the marketplace?  A few of the industry giants have completed multiple logo redesigns.

Pepsi Cola echoes the trend toward simplicity through multiple logo changes.  Pepsi’s original flourishing name resembled their competition Coca Cola’s design.  The most recent version of the logo required over five months of research and an approximate cost of $100 million to complete the changeover.

The Nike swoosh logo is universally known.  It may surprise you to know that it was created in 1971 by a graphic design student; she was paid $35 for her work.  Though the logo has transformed over the decades, Nike has not retired the original logos.  Nike is one of the few giants who have retained the availability of “vintage” gear.

IBM not only changed their logo but also their name.  Wikipedia records the history of IBM’s name change “The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company (CTR) through a merger of three companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company.[4][5] CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924,”  The company was affectionately nicknamed Big Blue.

How do you want your company to be identified?  Select a logo which represents your culture as Apple did by designing a simple identifiable and name associated image.  Starbucks, Pepsi Cola and Nike have also chosen an image without any company name on their current logo.  IBM has selected the simple letters to identify themselves.

The company logo is a powerful and immediately identifiable representative of your company.  The logo is a significant segment of your brand.  Choose it carefully but be flexible enough to adjust with marketplace trends.