Behind the scenes of designing a logo

Today our logo designer, Chuck, gives you some insight into how and why he creates some of our great logos!

While logo design refers to the activity of creating a logo, and the term logo is used to refer to any symbol created for the purpose of identification, the psychology of logo design is the study of any meaning that can be found in a logo outside the simple means of identification. In this article, I’ll cover the essence of the topic, bring my own personal perspective to the discussion, and hopefully help create a captivating debate around the subject.

People will understand and interact with your logo the same way they do with words: from their own personal perspective, which is ultimately led by their own cultural views and personal experiences. If people with distinct levels of education see different meanings for the same word, the chances are they will do the same with your logo.

You should think of each part of your logo as an attribute, reflecting on how each attribute will be interpreted by the viewer. The more time you spend working on the meaning of these attributes, the more control you will have on what people comprehend when reading your logo.

Since every potential attribute of a logo is virtually infinite and renders the writing of this article a nearly impossible task, I’m going to focus on the two most common attributes people use to create added meaning: color and shape.

Color

The role of color in the psychology of logo design is often misunderstood, usually by the clients themselves, but not without reason. Considering the sheer amount of articles on the web stating that red is this and yellow is that, it becomes evident that the result may be catastrophic. The oversimplification of the meaning of color is the main generator of this typical briefing: “I want my logo red, yellow, green, purple and brown because…”

Somewhere, in a mystical place, a fairy dies every time I hear this sort of request. My main advice when picking a color for your logo is to pick just one. That’s it, just one color. Choosing a single color gives you more control of what people will see in your logo, and on top of that, you can also use it as your branding strategy. With time people will start to associate the color with your brand.

Shape

From a psychological perspective, there’s nothing more relevant than shape. The human brain is hardwired to understand and memorize shapes. It’s the way we learn things. A distinctive shape is remembered long after we have seen it. Do you remember the shape of Nike’s logo? The McDonalds sign? Or perhaps the Olympic Games’ symbol?

 

Lindon Leader knew exactly what he was doing by adding a hidden arrow in the Fedex logo. This is one of the best examples of the use of psychology in the design of a logo. The arrow shape created by the negative space formed by the letter “E” and “X” is, in my opinion, the work of a genius. I wish I had designed that logo myself. In an interview Leader said: “I thought that if I could develop this concept of an arrow it could be promoted as a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx communicative attributes.”

There are very few things that are more relevant to my design process than what feelings and emotions my work will evoke in viewers, more specifically the primary target audience of my clients. Choosing the right combination of color, type, and mark can easily become a purely aesthetic exercise, but it is when you take the time to think about the psychology behind the design that the best work is produced.

By: Charles “Chuck” Roberds

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