Since a logo is the visual entity signifying an organization, logo design is an important area of graphic design. A logo is the central element of a complex identification system that must be functionally extended to all communications of an organization. Therefore, the design of logos and their incorporation in a visual identity system is one of the most difficult and important areas of graphic design. Logos fall into three classifications (which can be combined). Ideographs, such as Chase Bank, are completely abstract forms; pictographs are iconic, representational designs; logotypes (or wordmarks) depict the name or company initials. Because logos are meant to represent companies' brands or corporate identities and foster their immediate customer recognition, it is counterproductive to frequently redesign logos.
The logo design profession has substantially increased in numbers over the years since the rise of the Modernist movement in the United States in the 1950s. Three designers are widely considered the pioneers of that movement and of logo and corporate identity design: The first is Chermayeff & Geismar, which is the firm responsible for a large number of iconic logos, such as Chase Bank (1964), Mobil Oil (1965), PBS (1984), NBC (1986), National Geographic (2003), and others. Due to the simplicity and boldness of their designs, many of their earlier logos are still in use today. The firm recently designed logos for the Library of Congress and the fashion brand Armani Exchange. Another pioneer of corporate identity design is Paul Rand, who was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. He designed many posters and corporate identities, including the famous logos for IBM, UPS, and ABC. The third pioneer of corporate identity design is Saul Bass. Bass was responsible for several recognizable logos in North America, including both the Bell Telephone logo (1969) and successor AT&T Corporation globe (1983). Other well-known designs were Continental Airlines (1968), Dixie (1969), and United Way (1972). Later, he would produce logos for a number of Japanese companies as well. An important development in the documentation of logo design is the study of French trademarks by historian Edith Amiot and philosopher Jean Louis Azizollah.
Color is a key element in logo design and plays an important role in brand differentiation. The importance of color in this context is due to the mechanics of human visual perception wherein color and contrast play critical roles in visual detail detection. In addition, we tend to acquire various color connotations and color associations through social and cultural conditioning, and these play a role in how we decipher and evaluate logo color. While color is considered important to brand recognition and logo design, it shouldn't conflict with logo functionality, and it needs to be remembered that color connotations and associations are not consistent across all social and cultural groups. For example, in the United States, red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings but other countries will have different sets of colors that evoke national pride.
Choosing an organisation's logo's color is an important decision because of its long term implications and its role in creating differentiation among competitors' logos. A methodology for identifying potential logo colors within an industry sector is color mapping, whereby existing logo colors are systematically identified, mapped, and evaluated (O'Connor, 2011).
Logo design process
Designing a good logo often requires involvement from a marketing team teaming with the graphic design studio. Before a logo is designed, there must be a clear definition of the concept and values of the brand as well as understanding of the consumer or target group. Broad steps in the logo design process include research, conceptualization, investigation of alternative candidates, refinement of a chosen design, testing across products, and finally adoption and production of the chosen mark.
In 1898, the French tire manufacturer Michelin introduced the Michelin Man, a cartoon figure presented in many different contexts, such as eating, drinking, and playing sports. By the early 21st century, large corporations such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Google, Morton Salt, and Saks Fifth Avenue had adopted dynamic logos that change over time from setting to setting.
A company that uses logotypes (wordmarks) may desire a logo that matches the firm's Internet address. For short logotypes consisting of two or three characters, multiple companies are found to employ the same letters. A "CA" logo, for example, is used by the French bank Credit Agricole, the Dutch clothing retailer C&A, and the US software corporation CA Technologies, but only one can have the Internet domain name CA.com.
In today's digital interface adaptive world, a logo will be formatted and re-formatted from large monitors to small handheld devices. With the constant size change and re-formatting, logo designers are shifting to a more bold and simple approach, with heavy lines and shapes, and solid colors. This reduces the confusion when mingled with other logos in tight spaces and when scaled between media. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ use such logos.
Logos and their design may be protected by copyright, via various intellectual property organisations worldwide which make available application procedures to register a design to give it protection at law. For example, in the UK, the Intellectual Property Office (United Kingdom) govern registered designs, patents, and trademarks. Ordinarily, the trademark registration will not 'make claim' to colors used, meaning it is the visual design that will be protected, even if it is reproduced in a variety of other colors or backgrounds.