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Logos, visual language and conventions.

Your logo is your name, only in visual form.  If you could distil the nature of a company or person, the identity, the drive and basically the DNA of an identity and you could turn it into an image, that would be your logo, at least this is the best way I can define it.  This is all well and good but the images that we use to describe things change depending on the visual language.

The whole visual language thing sounds a bit strange, I know…I will write an entry dedicated to that alone but in the mean time think of this way, just like each country has a different spoken/written language they also have a visual language, colors represent different things in different places and for different groups. Just a quick example, in European politics the color red is associated with the left while blue is associated with the right, in the United States the exact opposite is true.  As you can see, not understanding the visual language of your target audience can have dire (even if sometimes funny) results.

Last thing on the menu, conventions.  Conventions have a reason for existing, they are usually simply tried and true methods.  The issue is that we tend to rely on these and take them as gospel. Many are anachronistic and should be challenged, for example:

A logo, needs to be one to two colors max
A logo must be a static image (duh)
It must be simple
It must Appeal to Different Audiences
Relies on trends

Colors and logos…this used to be true back in the day when reproducing blues and reds was difficult for printshops unless they used pantone inks and adding additional plates to a print job was/is expensive so in a bid to keep costs within reason companies would choose the lowest number of colors possible.  Now a days most logos are shown onscreen in 99% of the time where you can go nuts on color, even when you print them however technology has come far since the 50s, reproducing color is no longer impossible/super pricey making this no longer as relevant as in the past. So if your concept calls for many colors I would not hesitate, in fact recently I made a logo with a gradient since the most important thing the client wanted to convey was diversity and what’s more diverse than a color gradient? (don’t worry, it came out fine 😉

So, a logo should be a static image huh, well the truth is we got over this one a while back but only for one industry. The movie industry has for some time enjoyed the use of motion in their logos, this makes sense as what they sell is in fact moving.  Even with these companies the logos tend to animate, then find a static version which is the official logo.  I would argue that there are many instances in which this is no longer necessary, in fact that there are companies that would benefit from a logo in constant motion.  If the company you are designing for is about constant change (say recycling, travel, etc) it just might be what they need, a moving image that reflects that change.

Same applies to simplicity, yes it is great to have a memorable easy to remember image but what if you want to convey complexity? This convention along with the rest should be out the window.

As to appealing to all audiences, this is just silly you may in fact want to exclude everyone but a narrow slice of the population in which case appealing to all audiences would hurt you. It all depends on the company, the situation, the times etc. Think of the aesthetic of a punk rock band, not very inclusive but very effective reaching its intended audience. So enough with this already! Ugh.

Relying on trends, if you want your logo to represent a timeless company then by all means do not rely on trends. Do not discount them however if you are trying to capitalize on a movement or a moment.

In closing, innovation is about adapting to new situations, new technology etc. Design is constantly innovating but somehow things like corporate Identity and logos have been left in the stone age, I think it is time to rethink some of these conventions and pivot to the times in which we live, thoughts?