How Shape Affects Logo Design
Ever wonder what goes in to the design of a logo? Well, there are many essential steps and elements of good identity design, but use of shape is one of the most important things in effective logos. While there are many logos that are instantly recognizable because of their color or imagery, the majority are recognizable because of an overall shape or outline. In fact, there are a host of logos that would be recognizable strictly in black and white outline, and the addition of color only makes them more unmistakable. Today, we’ll explore how important shape is to a successful logo, how shapes are implemented, and why they work.
The first, most important aspect of logo design is that it must be functional. Functional meaning it must match the identity of the company and the logo must have the ability to be shown in a variety of mediums and contexts. If the design of a logo uses too many colors and complex shapes, it will be more difficult to reproduce and may not even be applicable to certain media such as embroidery or black and white printing. On the other hand, too simple can mean an uninteresting and unmemorable identity. There’s a fine balance between too complex and too simple, and a good logo rides right in between the two. Simple, clean, easy to reproduce, yet unique and eye-catching.
Logos like Shell, Apple, and MasterCard have a distinctive outline that is simple, yet would be easily recognizable in a strict shape. Over the years, all three of these logos have undergone changes of every sort, but have retained a similar or unchanging outline. While Shell’s logo has changed the most, all three have undergone minor facelifts. Because the basic outline hasn’t changed, they are still highly recognizable no matter which version you were looking at. In fact, it probably wouldn’t matter what color or pattern they might have, they would still remain distinguishable.
Some logos rely on a complex outline, or even the shape of type to create their outline. The McDonald’s logo, the Cummins logo, and Fed Ex are all great examples of strictly typographic logos that art highly recognizable because of their overall shape. Again, in any color, texture, or pattern — all three of these logos would maintain their original character, strictly because of the shapes that form them.
So next time you look at a logo, picture it only in outline, in black and white, and any context you can think of and consider how well it would work. You’ll probably find that the logos you instantly thought were the best are able to be manipulated this way and retain their identity. Better yet, post links to your favorite logos in the comments and tell us why you like them to continue the conversation!
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