Where does logo end and brand begin?

When developing a logo, we always strive to incorporate as much of the company personality into it as possible. From many points of view, the obvious manifestation of this is to make a logo for an aviation company include a plane or clouds, right?

Looking deeper into the overall brand however, it is paramount that that the brand does not end at the logo, and the accompanying visual system helps to create the overall brand identity. With that in mind, a usable interface (whether web or print) that users can decipher quickly and easily is important in promoting brand value and forming a clear visual link to the brand identity.

In this respect, the logo can – and perhaps always should – be a clear typographic solution, that marks the beginning of a wider brand journey.

“I don’t think that type should be expressive at all. I can write the word ‘dog’ with any typeface and it doesn’t have to look like a dog. But there are people that [think that] when they write ‘dog’ it should bark.”

– Massimo Vignelli in the documentary Helvetica

How can it be achieved? 

Taking into account the lessons from the Swiss Style, without a clear grid structure helping to form a typographic hierarchy, print and web pages alike can make it difficult for any user to navigate in a prescribed manner through any information. With the concept of ‘less is more’ very much in our minds, we strive to look into the core layout first and foremost to safeguard the user journey before any accompanying graphics are applied.

This is not to say that layout should not be visually engaging as well as informative. It has been a problem since day one to be able to reach a perfect balance of form and function without sacrificing one or the other. If you look at the work of Otl Aicher on the Munich Olympics for example, you are able to identify these two aspects working perfectly in unison, outlining a strong brand identity.

Otl_Aicher

This consideration of balance is something that is highly prevalent in classic design approaches within the Chemical Industry. In many of the publications produced within this sector throughout the 1960s & 70s, the clarity of information was paramount, but never sacrificed the inclusion of visual imagery, and in some cases, the ability to inject an element of humour to an otherwise straight talking subject.

Chemical Publications

“The grid is like the lines on a football field. You can play a great game in the grid or a lousy game. But the goal is to play a really fine game.”

– Wim Crouwel

An example from our experience where a brand identity is developed visually, is the abstraction of the Chichester Academy Trust logo, strengthening brand recognition, creating unique brand signatures and engaging on page/screen graphics. We found this project to be a great example of how we were able to take a core characteristic of a typographic logo, and create a strong brand presence throughout all media.

Brand and modern design challenges

When these layout and aesthetic considerations are applied to a business like Twitter however, is there still room to create an elaborate world in which the user should travel through to experience the full brand?

Twitter bird logo

In this case, this type of business need to take a reduced view on how far their brand identity travels (due to both screen and interface restrictions), and the applications with which it will be viewed. With all this taken into account, many social networks have to a degree followed the rules set out by the Swiss style pioneers in that a clear typographic logo/or brand icon and a simple colour palette will give you the tools to apply a brand identity within the constraints of any layout or interface without sacrificing brand recognition, or losing any kind of aesthetic engagement from the user.

Where does this leave us today?

We as designers are going to be continually challenged when applying new brands, as new formats and technologies will always provide a new challenge. However, if the logo and supporting graphical elements are solid and follow strict brand guidelines, brand recognition will always be achievable.