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What’s the purpose of a logo?

The primary role of a logo is to identify… Remember this, as it trumps all other advice you’ll ever hear. Identification is what really matters. That’s it.

Trends come and go, design tools and techniques will evolve, what we perceive a logo to be may even drastically change with time, but for all eternity the single most important goal of a logo will always remain this – to identify the person, product, business or service you’re designing it for.

This means, as a designer (or business owner), before working on any ideas you need to fully understand the environment in which the logo will be seen. Who are the brands competitors and how do they look? What colours and symbols are already owned by established competition? How can we differentiate the logo so the business stands out from the crowd?

Logo design is a strategic tool – it’s not art.

Logo design is not art – too many people mistake them for art since logos are a visual object.

Our role as designers is not to design a thing of beauty… and not to design something we or the client personally likes the look of, but instead logo design needs to be treated as a strategic business tool that will allow a company to be identified in the vast world we live in. Of course, a logo can still look good, but that should be a secondary factor when designing a logo. Identification comes first.

A logo design doesn’t need hidden meanings

Designers (including myself) often aim to fill a logo full of meaning from the outset, however, this isn’t needed – the focus should be on identification. Any meaning or association will come with time through interaction with the logo.

A new logo is an empty vessel and from day one it has no meaning to onlookers, even if it was added intentionally. With time meaning will be added through ongoing marketing, and the interactions customers have with the company’s brand. To really understand what I mean by this, take a look at the tick and apple illustrations below, and try not to imagine more than just well-designed icons… it’s impossible.

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