"Authenticity without expression is like Steve Jobs without the apple.” An interview with Tina Weise from MetaDesign
For companies like Apple, Mercedes or Coca-Cola, the logo is an integral part of the branding strategy. However, recent rebranding efforts from Zara and Douglas prove that brands can face many hurdles throughout the design process. In an interview, design expert Tina Weise from MetaDesign shares her insights into what start-ups need to consider when designing a logo and which logo designs are currently trending.
There are many iconic logos – from Mercedes to Nike and Coca-Cola. Why are logos important for brands and how do they relate to brand identity?
A brand (or brand experience) is a product of many different factors. The most important factor is the brand strategy, which is fundamental in creating a strong brand. It acts as a guide for the company and informs the brand identity, which includes all design elements, for example the logo or trademark, the typography, the colour scheme and all other relevant features.
Consistency over time and across all brand elements is crucial in achieving high brand recognition. This is particularly important for lesser known brands. Humans are predisposed to recognise patterns, therefore without a repeated pattern there is little brand recognition.
What do start-ups need to know when designing a new logo? Do you have a checklist?
The initial stages of logo design are definitely challenging. Above all, it is crucial that the logo matches the company itself. Authenticity without expression is like Steve Jobs without Apple. Therefore, brands must first consider the following questions: What suits us, our company and our strategy? How can we differentiate ourselves from the competition? What do we want to (and what can we) convey with this logo? What are some of the general design trends and do we want to follow them? Which logos are already registered under trademark law?
Additionally, a good logo should contain meaning that is relevant to and associated with the company. A logo should be timeless, easy to understand, recognisable and flexible so that it also works on a smaller scale (for instance Flavicon’s logo is used as an app icon).
How often should a logo undergo a redesign? Are there any rules to determine this?
Brands are constantly evolving, just like us humans. Therefore, there aren’t any rules that determine when brand elements, like the logo, should be changed. It depends on the development of the company’s strategy and changes in the market, economy and society.
One thing is certain: companies are under a great deal of pressure to change and are questioning whether to make adjustments to the brand elements (including the logo) much more frequently today than they were 10 years ago.
The rebranding of Zara and Douglas wasn’t very well received amongst experts. Why do you think this was and what can we learn from it?
In principle, when the changes are so obvious there is always going to be a multitude of opinions, the most of which will be criticisms. However, behind every rebranding is a strategy, often unbeknown to the public. In my opinion, Zara opted for an evolution, whereas Douglas sought a revolution. Zara wanted to become more like a fashion magazine, whereas Douglas wanted to renew its image as a young beauty brand.
If you have a well-thought-out strategy and you are successful in turning it into a design the opinions of harsh critics become less relevant.
Mastercard and Apple are examples of how logos can also work without text. Which companies are best suited to so-called abstract logos?
First of all, it should be noted that both Apple and Mastercard started with logos that were comprised of both picture and text elements. I think that abstract logos work well for companies that have already achieved a high level of brand awareness. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all principle here. The decision to use an abstract logo depends on both the brand strategy and more general factors, including the level brand awareness or cultural suitability.
When it comes to new start-ups that lack brand awareness I would suggest a logo design that includes an attention-grabbing text element. At least in the digital field, we are still concentrating on text and less on visual elements. But who knows – maybe abstract logos will become the QR codes of the future.
What are some of the current trends in logo design?
Logo trends are dependent on changes in society and in the media. The trends to watch are dynamic logos that can alter their appearance and minimalistic and filigree logos that are popular amongst start-ups. There are many logos that use optical illusion or reference technology, for instance the new logo from Quelle. Moreover, many companies are taking their old logos and reviving them for modern use.
What is your favourite logo and why do you think it’s so successful?
One of my favourite logos is the current Google logo. There are three reasons why I think it works well: Firstly, because of the clever choice of name that references the mathematical number Googol. Secondly, the combination of mature rationality and playfulness is clearly represented in the logo design. Finally, I find the flexibility of the logo most impressive as it is used in three different ways, for instance as a navigation tool on the search results page.
This is a prime example of how a well-considered name that perfectly fits the brand can inspire the design. When design and strategy meet, a distinctive pattern is created and only then can the brand be etched into consumer’s minds.