What Your Logo Doesn't Say About Your Business!

Logos are everywhere. The marks that define a business or company. The general idea is that they are recognizable and portray a feeling for what the company behind them is all about. Nearly all designers hold to the idea that "keeping things simple" is the best way forward. Clutter is a thing of the past and clean design is the thing to aspire to. The question for the modern designer is, "In a world so full of logo designs what is it that we should put into a logo design and what should we leave out? Here are a few of our ideas on logo design for the modern business...

Stop Being So Literal - Literally!

Consider some of the worlds most famous brands. Do they depict what the company literally does. Does "Nike" have an emblem of a trainer for it's mark? Does "Coca-Cola" have a picture of a glass of liquid for it's logo? Does "Vodafone" have a mark depicting a mobile phone, "Apple" or "IBM" a computer? No. Why is this you may ask? Well for a start the products and services of a company change over time which may mean that a literal logo would need to change on a regular basis. Why not an abstract representation then, you may ask. Well, the truth of it all is that the modern logo is not something that depicts EVERYTHING that a company does. The modern logo is more about how the company does it.

Logo Examples

A logo needs to embody the culture of the company and most of the time the culture of a company has little to do with the products it sells. For example apple are a computer company but their name and emblem has nothing to do with computers. Their mark is an apple with a chunk taken out of it. This maybe suggests having a 'bite of the apple', getting 'your teeth into something special'. Normally the brand is very clean and non obtrusive. This again gives the feeling that this company creates products which integrate seamlessly into their customers lives and that they offer a slick and professional service. All of these things are portrayed in the simplicity of their logo.Coca Cola on the other hand have a brilliantly swirly typographic logo. This gives the feeling of history, movement and fun. Again these are all attributes of the culture of their business but does not depict the literal products which they produce.

So when considering a new logo, or even an update from an old logo, why not try to think about the culture and qualities of your company rather than what you literally sell. What your logo doesn't say can be more important than what it does say! Your logo will become cleaner, more attractive and will have longevity. It will also have a quality about it, a self assurance which breaths professionalism.

Placement Of The Logo

“Hang on a moment”, we hear you say, “but if my logo doesn’t say exactly what I do then how will people know exactly what I do”? Well, this all comes down to placement.

How many times do you see a logo all alone? Not many at all. Logos are often placed alongside an image and a marketing message which normally display, more literally what your company delivers. On a website for example, your logo will appear but will be accompanied alongside information which tells people what you literally do. On an advert your logo may appear next to an image of a product you are promoting. Again the literal is seen in the image and message but not in the logo.

This way of communicating is far more effective than trying to communicate everything literally in a logo. For a start you can keep your message very simple and direct it to a key audience. For example you may deal differently with a blue chip client than you would with a small or medium sized business. If you can target who is looking at your messages you can make sure you are appealing in the right way to the right people. A simple logo will be able to appeal to all audiences even though it may be placed on advertising directed to different classes of consumers.

Other Ways To Portray What You Literally Do

It’s also a good idea to remember that what you literally do or sell can be adapted an built into your over-all branding style. For example you could develop a series of icons which depict different product areas. You could also have a slogan or catch phrase which you can sit next to your logo. These things can be updated or changed at little or no cost.


So we have shown that what you include in the design of a logo can be just as important as what you leave out. We have seen that in a modern logo, aspirational ideas, rather than literal ideas, are portrayed and that this has many benefits.

Do you agree? Or maybe dis-agree? If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below...

DISCLIAMER: The images used in this post have not been created by Attitude Design and are simply used for reference and examples.


Well done.

The challenge with logo design is that it requires focus to succeed, but unfortunately the approval of a vast bureaucratic committee to be implemented. Organizations with strong leaders -- such as Steve Jobs -- can have a single visionary drive an identity to the top, and then across all products and services. But organizations that are consensus driven have a hard time coming into focus.

The reason most logos stink -- or worse, represent the current basic core product of the moment -- is that mediocrity or product-centricity are the usual outcomes of committee projects.

Thus, as part of logo design, I recommend a touch of organizational psychology. Someone has to tell the Board Steering Committee, gentlemen, you're going to have to let go.

Oh, and keep it small. Please.

Regarding the Apple logo - I believe you will find that the so-called 'chunk' (as you put it) taken out of the apple in their logo is based on the 'byte'.....for a company such as yours I would have expected you to have done your research! Alas not! Shame! Do not pass 'Go', do not collect £100!

I agree with Ben , it takes a strong vision to keep things simple and effective, work almost always gets watered down due to deign by commitee

thank a lot with information )))

I am an artist just developing a logo for my company and I thank you for the info you have provided in this article. As a painter I have always used one of my artworks as a logo, but now as my company is branching out, I need to be less literal. So I am going with a feeling for the company which is "feminine and bold", rather than the obvious and literal paint brush

agree... great explanations..

i asked "should my logo say what I do" and this post answered perfectly: "The modern logo is more about how the company does it."

As my psychic told me... "I am my own calling card" :)

I think the energy, feeling and intention behind a logo or any good design is what shines through.