If you’ve been searching the wonderful world of the web for a little insight into the whole logo design field, you might find yourself a tad dazed and confused. You know logos are meant to capture and represent the heart and soul of your business and its products and services. Your company image should be appealing and elicit an emotional response in viewers of the logo. Graphically brilliant, yet economic in its use of color and font size and style. Bold yet safe. Daring yet tasteful -and above all else, simple. If you want your identity to set your business world on fire, why does it need to be simple?
If you stop for a minute and try to think of some of the most memorable logos you’ve ever seen you’ll find that simplicity is a characteristic common to all of them. Think of the apple with a bite out of it. Think of the ReMax hot air balloon. Think of the AT&T blue world of the Wikipedia Planet Earth. They are all simple designs. And they are all extremely functional.
When we speak of the functionality of a logo we are referring to the potential of using it in any application without losing any of the inherent value. To illustrate consider the now famous Century 21 Logo. The name of the company appears stacked and staggered with different font sizes used to accentuate the first letter of the company name and the numerical designation at the end of the tag line. The use of simple line drawings connotes home and yard. So this identity does the most important thing an identity is supposed to do: suggest what business the company is in. We knew they had something to do with homes. But note that the logo has no additional text? Why not? Century 21 is a franchise operation and eliminating text references from the design allows franchisees to use the logo with their own text. That’s functionality.
Here are some other things we can learn about functionality from this example.
First, it’s scalable. By that we mean it can be enlarged or reduced without altering the impact of the logo in any way. You’ve seen this logo on business cards, on clothing, on letterhead, on huge banners as well as smaller signs, and on an array of promotional items. This logo can pretty much go anywhere and do anything. On business cards the image is positioned to the left allowing individual realtors to incorporate a portrait picture directly onto the card.
Second, the colors and graphic enhancements are also transferable to a variety of media. On most signs and in the telephone yellow pages, the Century 21 logo uses only two colors: yellow and black. The significance is once again, the logo loses none of its impact when reproduced in black and white. And the only graphic enhancements are the line drawings and the variation in font size. One of the major drawbacks of many logos designed with slick software like photo shop is the fancy stuff the designers like to add. Many do-it-yourself designers go way overboard here with 3D and shadows and color fades all over the place. Those enhancements will not translate well to a lot of media.
Finally, a word about the lack of text. Whoever did this logo understood the nature of the franchise business. This is an identity that can be used at the corporate level or at the franchise level with text added for a variety of purposes from promoting a free market analysis to an open house.