Recently, in my Second year study of Graphic Design, we were required to investigate a topic related to a field within design. I explored a range of topics that I found interesting but decided to progress with the emerging approach to logo design called “Logo Systems”.
In Graphic Design, logos and brand identity have been an integral feature for communication between producer and consumer. Logos also play an important role in the buyers’ decision process. Logos and brands continue to be a central part of our everyday interactions due to the rise of digital culture. The new strategy Logo systems, has been described by Evan Brown as “one of the most interesting developments in logo design so far.” (Brown, 2016).
Logo System: a logo system acts as a ‘graphical framework’ that can shift and change for different situations, allowing brands to start a conversation beyond it’s own name, pointing to other ideas and issues that are important to them on any chosen day.
Previously, logos had been something “static” which remains the same throughout all mediums of use to ensure a recognisable brand to create consistency to build companies/ organisations as familiar providers and trustworthy.
Logos and branding have been in use for thousands of years, such as in Ancient Egyptian times in livestock branding. Branding is a concept that we have adopted most commonly today in a commercial context, however, branding can be seen as an identification process. As humans, we use semiotics when identifying logos and have continued to do so throughout their development. “Symbols are highly subjective and dependent upon cultural reference.” (Redding, 2010) We make sense of symbols by using the context that they are in to further our understanding.
Design historians and theorists Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller (Klein 2009), stated that “logos were tailored to evoke familiarity and folksiness in an effort to counteract the new and unsettling anonymity of packaged goods”. Adding logos acted as a mark of quality, therefore helping to build trust between producer and consumer.
Now, with the development and widespread use of digital technology, brands put more focus on promoting themselves through these digital platforms such as: social media, websites, smartphone applications. With an increasing ability to reach a broader audience, there becomes a need to target themselves to different groups of individuals. Having a digital channel gives brands the ability to use flexible identities as these can be easily changed to fit different platforms as updates can be made cheaply, quickly and easily.
In our culture, we are exposed to a vast number of logos being showcased in a variety of different channels such as social media, websites and apps, that we interact with in our everyday life. The expansion of our digital culture, in terms of the frequent use of smartphones and social media, has meant that as individuals, we are bombarded with logos, brands and advertising. The high density of logos makes it challenging for individuals to sift through to find content which interests them or has relevance to their lifestyle needs. For this reason, brands aim to simplify their visuals for fast recognition and tailor their messages to sell their brand ethos and how they can add value to your lifestyle. (Naomi Klein, 2009) says that “it is not to sponsor culture but to be the culture”. If brands sell themselves as “attitudes, values and experiences” then consumers can buy into the belief that they are part of an exclusive group or culture.
There are many examples of brands that have taken on this trend and development to logo design and see it as a very powerful and valuable approach to logo design which allows brands to set themselves apart from their competitors and allow themselves to be particularly present online.
DC Comics used logo systems to apply to different storytelling. Each logo is designed with a particular character in mind. This helps them to relate to what they provide.
Google use differing illustrations, graphics for different days which are altered in different locations around the world. They use this to raise awareness for historical events. These act to unify people as they can be celebrations which a large group of the population takes part in or have some knowledge about. Sometimes these can be interactive as games. Google is so well known and established around the world that they can afford to use many different styles and be more adventurous while still maintaining an identity that is recognisable to its users.
Zocdoc is a health company that cleverly uses different slight variations which are each very similar to each other showing different facial expressions. These changes are minimal so it is very easy to recognise that they are still part of the same brand.
Logo Systems can be effectively used for digital forms due to their ability to be changed easily and implemented on different channels, being changed slightly for different purposes and audiences. They can be used effectively for contextualising and connecting the logo to different concepts. However, they are not always appropriate for all brands to use as it requires them to be well recognised, consistent, able to be transformed into different variations easily while still being recognisable as a single brand. Most importantly, the brand would need to be active on social media channels and other digital media. (Brown, 2016)
Brown, E. (2016) Logo systems: Here’s why static logos are dead! Available at: https://www.designmantic.com/blog/logo-systems-static-logos-are-dead/
Klein, N. and NAOMI, K. (2009) No logo: No space, no choice, no jobs. London: HarperCollins Publishers
Paget, I. (2017). Logo systems: the future of logo design?. [online] Creative Bloq. Available at: http://www.creativebloq.com/branding/logo-systems-future-logo-design-41619864
Redding, D. (2010) The evolution of the logo – smashing magazine. Available at: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/07/the-evolution-of-the-logo/