A dynamic and distinctive logo is the cornerstone of a brand’s identify – we speak to designers and studios to see what ingredients make up the winning formula
On 6 October 2010, Gap opened its stores like any other day. Same staff, same merchandise, same prices. A seemingly calm day for the retail giant, yet away from the shop floor something was amiss. Online forums and Facebook buzzed with heated chatter; something had changed and customers weren’t standing for it. The cause of offence? Helvetica.
Designer Gareth Hardy (featured in the boxout over the page; www.behance.net/garethhardy) recounts the story of Gap’s misguided logo change as an example of just how much a well-designed and iconic emblem means to people and how vital it is for the designer to crack it. Gap made a hasty retreat and brought back the original within a week. The serif font on a simple blue block has been its logo for more than two decades.
Do a mental flick through the most recognisable logos – the golden arches of McDonald’s or the onomatopoeic Nike swoosh – and you’ll realise they all have at least two things in common. They’re simplistic in form and try as you may, you couldn’t picture them any other way. The brand and the design just fit. When you are designing your own unforgettable logos for clients, these are the golden rules to adhere to. “A good logo is like a tailor-made suit. It tells everybody who you really are,” says designer Denis Olenik (www.denisolenik.com).
Creative director of Pixelfish (www.pixelfish.co.uk), Dan Hinton, would agree with that. For him a good logo needs to embody the brand and the tiniest details can make the biggest difference. “A logo, more than any other piece of design, needs to get the look and feel right, as the rest of the design will follow what has been established in the logo,” he says. “You need to make sure it represents what the business stands for, whether that be a literal mark that tells someone exactly what they do, or a concise piece of typography that conveys the right image. Questions such as do you use a serif font over sans serif are incredibly important.”