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Logo: Symbols and Wordmarks

Lesson 12 from: Creating Brand Identity Systems

Brian Schmitt

Logo: Symbols and Wordmarks

Lesson 12 from: Creating Brand Identity Systems

Brian Schmitt

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Lesson Info

12. Logo: Symbols and Wordmarks

Lesson Info

Logo: Symbols and Wordmarks

now I want to talk to you about how to craft a symbol. It's a vehicle for your brand through time and across the consumer landscape, the best symbols for brands, balance the level of abstraction and simplicity with meaning, they can hold the ideas of a company while leaving room for participation. Consider all prior research, insights and visuals gathered to help inform the design work. Begin by sketching ideas you have in a notebook, redraw your favorites in adobe illustrator on a large sketch file for the project. A brand signifier is often a logo type or a word mark, which is the name turned into a symbol for the brand. A monogram is basically both. Many brands also have a symbol and logo, type or related system that gives them options for how to brand the company word mark is probably the most common type of a logo that you'll see. Word mark is a specific way of typesetting or drawing a brand name in letters. It's been used from the beginning of branding because it's a consistent w...

ay to place brand on products. Have a repeatable way of saying your name, showing your name using your name and through, you know, this kind of use and over time, the form, the general way that, you know, the word looks when it's written that becomes recognizable quicker than reading the whole word word marks can become logos almost become symbolic through use, it's kind of this combination of the typeface. Whatever the name of the company, the typeface that you set it in and then how you said it. The typesetting, that's what's going to dictate the perception of the brand name. So if you're looking at at brands that come out, they have a different feeling based on how they're written and this might be based on the history of the brand cultural attachments that that you might have to it when you see it or just the historical way that it was created. Originally, all typography was created by hand, whether that was carving calligraphy setting, blocked by wood type, it was all hand done and had some kind of hand slash production element that dictated the way that it looked. Um Now with digital design we have unlimited options. So typography can kind of take on any look. But we still have these same tools, you know, cultural signifiers which we can draw upon to create a feeling. And that's what the typography is trying to do is you know, create that feeling for people. A brand symbol is another tool for brand identity systems. They're great because they can act as a vessel or a seed and sort of hold the D. N. A. Of a brand. They're powerful because of their abstraction. They can stand for something but also contain a larger thought like a seed or like D. N. A symbols are also great because they can work in places where name is not appropriate. So you might have something like this Budweiser example where they write their name on the front of the label, then they use their brand symbol, the crown perfectly on the cap of the bottle. You know, this is kind of what we recognize a symbol and uh, word mark together to create a logo. Often symbols for companies are created from the first initial letter or a series of letters. And this is called monograms. Monograms are often used as symbols because they're immediately connected to the brand name by using the first initial letter or a series of letters. This example from the Whitney Museum shows how you can write the name the same with their word, Mark Whitney and use a different kind of monogram, what they're calling a responsive W. And it's actually this sort of rhythm, this variance that they use as a branding system. So in this example of a project, if you're working for dinosaur hardware store Dino's and you want to create a new logo type for them, how do you start? One way is through adobe type kit program that comes with your Adobe Creative Cloud license, everyone has access to it. You know, all the programs, we're using our own creative cloud. So you automatically have type kit. Type kit is also free. You can go through type kit and you can find fonts that feel like right for your brand. So that's something I would immediately recommend trying when you're working on your next brand project and you're creating a logo type. Try setting it in different fonts and really go beyond what you already have on your computer, explore what's out there and use all different kinds of sources for that. Um, I would check out as many different kinds of design blogs as you can. A great one is fonts and use blog is all about typography and it's excellent for showing different kinds of fonts that are actually being used, so contextualizing it and then kind of dissecting it again for you and saying, hey, here's how they did it. So, if I see a font that I like, I can check it out on fonts and use and then I can try it. Um they have great links to different font foundries. So I can once again denies hardware, go beyond what's available to me and keep exploring and trying different typefaces. So here's that same plant I saw, I don't know if this is right, trying a few others and I'm kind of saving the ones that then feel kind of, you know, right for the brand, you know, at this point in the project, I would have done work around the mission, the spirit of the brand and the brand values and all these things that I'm thinking about along with the brief understanding the consumer would be informing my typography choice is another great option for you. It's called what the font if you have a font that you have found that you like and want to use, but you don't know what it's called. You can upload the image to this site, what the font and then they will search and pair your image with fonts that are available so then you can create something with it and then go ahead and try your name. Once again, Tina's hardware store in that kind of a setting. Another option is to create custom typography. This is some custom typography that I did at Nike for their hyper decline of shoes. This was used for a few years um usually on the tongue to identify the shoe line and basically about being as lightweight as possible and using a custom typeface to convey that feeling. For example of wonder. It's my own accessories company didn't really ever need a symbol to me because writing the word in a circle there makes it almost into its own symbol. The logo type is so different than what you're used to seeing that it becomes symbolic on its own logo type for the company. Beneath is an underwear company. We wanted to kind of create a really legible type because they're writing the word beneath and kind of a hard to read way, kind of a new short way. And then on the symbol, it was about very simply saying beneath in a sort of a symbol form the google wallet logo was something that I worked on when I was a R. G. A. With the illustrator Simon chow. Um Together we tried to find a form for the w that felt like the same motion of tapping your phone to pay. This was the first service that let you pay with the phone and this monogram of a W. W. For wallet, google wallet felt like the appropriate design breaking last year with Sirius XM on branding, their spoke social audio app. I wanted to create a symbol that felt like the word but also worked with it. We used the same symbol as the logo for the app. For your logo inspiration. Um go back to all of your research that you've done on the project, the client and the consumer Lauren as much as you can. And then when you're thinking about it creating your strategy, you need to create the branding tools that you believe are needed for the brand to succeed through time. So, you know, do they need a symbol? Do they need a logo type? You know, what is appropriate for them? Do they need both? Um you know, create these tools and might be, you know, an entire system. Think about what this brand needs to work and consider the brain and consumer relationship, business to business brand versus brick and mortar store will have different needs for their logos like digital signage and branding versus physical versions. Production process can also inspire your thinking or limited. You might have a situation where you might have to make it one color logo because it's going to be, you know, written in one color physically or you might have a situation where it's always digital and that might inspire you to do something new with your digital logo, just like every other part of this brand identity course, we're always talking about the spirit of the brand. So, again, for the logo inspiration, you're thinking about what is the spirit of the brand? What feeling does it in part, you know, what feeling do you want? Um people to have when they see the logo? Can you capture that concept in a way that people will immediately understand in thinking about this. I'm I'm writing, I'm sketching in my notebook and I'm just capturing ideas in any form, trying to always build around a concept and think about, you know, how does this concept that I have this idea in my mind that sort of sums up the spirit of the company, how does this take form? And how does this work with the way people perceive it to become that way? How can they kind of finish the story being abstract earlier? How is it something that invites them in and leaves them room to participate with the brand? So, the logo is is very much like a vessel or a seed in this way where, you know, it's summing up the company, but it's always growing into more and working with a larger, you know, a larger hole, larger system that we're talking about. But it's the, it's kind of the cornerstone for everything when I'm thinking about about this, like I said, it's it's always going to be idea based when I'm thinking of a logo and usually it's verbally first, you know, I'll write down something that I want to communicate and then it's designed second. So for me, I'm always trying to create a rhythm with design and this becomes really, really important with logo design so that the rhythm is going abroad to fully understand something and then finding its sharpest point like a key visual idea. Think of a bunch of things that are true for this project. Get all this injection of research and values and then think if I can filter that to one thing, you know, what is that key visual idea? Can I write that down first? You know, and then can I find things that that light that up, Find things that work. Is that idea visually from there? I can go abroad again and try to expand the idea to create a visual world for the brand. So basically what this means is I'm checking out a million things. I'm coming up with some image, some logo idea and I'm saying this is it. And then from there I'm kind of testing it. Um and and trying to create a whole world around it. It's going abroad again. So this is a rhythm of out and in out and in sort of like breathing um that I'm trying to do in a project um and if you're creating multiple options, you might have to do this multiple times. So you know find out a ton about an idea um sort of take a certain path, right and then say this is the best um you know result for that path and then maybe you have a different idea different path and then this is the result for that path. But you're always going to have to go broad and narrow it down and then go abroad again. Once you once you have what your what you want to run with in a good logo, all the elements are working together to become more than the sum of their parts but they leave room for growth and use, this is something I kind of talked about before, you know about how how logos work in our minds. You know they're they're kind of the start of something, they're symbolic right there, not the whole story but they're enough to encapsulate it. So a good one will, will have sort of an inviting amount of room that let people participate with the brand and through time the logo then becomes more means more because of what people have injected to it along with the company on the okay project. We had a strategic insight around the product benefit of stress relief, both mental and physical functional wellness beverages are purchased by consumers who are looking for added value beyond hydration to find products that are part of lifestyle of everyday wellness. This was kind of like a competitor to coconut water or other things that someone would drink and say, okay beyond wanting to be go from being thirsty to having my thirst quenched, I want to have some other active benefit. I want to become healthier as a result of drinking this and have some kind of perceived benefits. So there's a whole category of wellness beverages called functional wellness beverages that this is a part of. So in my notes, I focused on the consumer perspective based on their needs and desires and how could I communicate this benefit of stress release to them. So what I'm kind of landing on is what is the opposite of stress. If you're not stressed, you're able to experience all the great things in life of joy. Joy is a wonderful kind of thing to lead with thinking about this um, stress relieving product. I wanted that feeling of joy to come into the way we wrote the name. So as I spoke about before, it's all about kind of typesetting the words and the feeling I worked with the partners had an agency to help come up with this name. Okay, and that ended up being a wonderful gift for us because it's short so we could make it large and easy to read, but it's also, you know, sort of symbolic letters. The idea that the drink was stress relieving and foundational was sort of an inspiration for me to try block letters, letters that felt like the building blocks of art or different things. So using sort of triangle circle and rectangle um as the foundation for this typography made a lot of sense. Um and it started to have that kind of feeling of joy just through the simplicity, but also the sense of movement that happened through the letters, they're sort of hidden. The logo I created for Oki is a logo type inside of a containing shape. The outer shape is a seven sided polygon in the form of Oki Island, the drink's namesake. It also alludes to the fact that its benefits are best if you drink it every day. I believe that the geometric forms of the capitol lettering combined with the asymmetrical symbol, give it a sense of tension, of unique and memorable. The openness of the logo and outlined form, let it be very large and legible on the bottle while still feeling balanced. I suggest to read the book logo by Michael, Even me. It's important to know the different types of logos so that you can create the right one for your brand. This book goes through many logos and classifications of types of logos that you can see what's out there. I also recommend that you do a trademark search with the US patent and trademark office. You may need to have a trademark, lawyer or other consultant ensure that your logo concept and company name is available with the U. S. Patent office in this example for Oki I use it as a containing shape. The logo type and the containing shape ended up working great. Together. As I mentioned earlier in the video it's a seven sided shape about the everyday nature of the product and the benefits of taking it on a regular basis. This ended up being a really nice home for the logo type and if you see it on the bottle, I actually when we talk about strategy earlier because we had the bottle designed in advance and that was kind of set because of production timelines. Then I was able to use it along with any logo and say okay does this work? Does this not work? Having it upright on the bottle was also great because it let the logo type be larger and sort of more symbolic feeling. But then when you drink it and set it sideways then it's right side up. So it's sort of promoting the act of drinking the product. Looking at different versions of of writing the name and thinking about what felt right for the brand. Different things gave different feelings. It's really helpful to try them on the bottle. And some felt too formal. Um Some felt almost oversimplified where it lost that sort of specialness and other ones like like this one that felt sort of playful and fun. Um, and had a sense of joy to them once they found their way onto packaging felt almost too loose to conversational and it felt more like candy to me or something sweet and it lost that sense of possibly being connected to health and wellness and other logos, just even though they had a nice rhythm to them, they didn't always work on bottle. This ended up being a great solution. That was kind of the linchpin of this identity system that we're going to keep going through today. And it was about all these different elements working together and sort of becoming one and that's kind of, you know what we're going to talk about overall is when we're creating a brand identity system and we have the logo as kind of the linchpin for all of it. You want to make something that's memorable that people you know, start to recognize. Um like I was saying for logo type even faster than they could read the word they recognize it as a logo becomes a memorable form in their minds. Um it's something that's repeatable. So if you keep using it, you don't get tired of it. It grows in strength overuse and it's extensible. Something that you can make extensions of so many brands will end up having product lines and they'll need to expand beyond, you know, the initial product to make a whole line. So you need to kind of build that in and work with, you know, your client partners in the beginning and find out, you know, how will this possibly be extended and think of that factor that in from the beginning.