The history of design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the elements of creative design, because businesses need to understand the process and how it affects their corporate identity.
Logo Design and Corporate Identity
In the past, the designer who created a logo, tagline or slogan for their company knew how the logo would be used on all of the promotional materials. However, it soon became clear that it would be necessary to communicate the proper usage to other people both inside and outside the company. After all, the designer couldn’t work at the company forever, and graphic designers also began to work outside companies as consultants. Thus, the corporate identity manual was born.
The practice of creating the corporate identity manual developed after WWII. The corporate identity manual is often a work of art in and of itself, as the designers showcase the many uses of a company’s logo, its color palette, typography, and proper orientations of the logo and other text. The purpose is to communicate to other designers how to apply the corporate identity, including logo, slogan and tagline, in a variety of formats and also how not to use the pieces in a design. Today, a corporate identity manual will describe both digital and print applications to maintain consistent design across all platforms.
A well-known graphic designer, Lester Beall, can be credited with some of the earliest corporate identity manuals. He designed these manuals with care, and the books themselves are a thing of beauty. A spread from his work for Connecticut General, an insurance company, are seen below. The pieces are so appealing that they could be framed and hung on a wall rather than simply be used for their purpose.
Corporate identity manuals can be quite fascinating and beautiful, existing in the unique space of being both practical guides for other designs, as well as works of design artistry themselves. Check out this list of 50 stunning corporate identity manuals for ideas.
What Makes a Good Logo
When you hear the word ‘brand’ there’s a good chance you may have mentally pictured one or more classic logos from well-known companies. Perhaps the Nike swoosh? Or the cursively written Coca Cola? A logo is nothing more nor less than the graphic embodiment of the whole brand. This is why—when you have a logo created for your company—you will want to put a lot of thought and care into the process.
You see, good logos don’t just happen. Yes, if you managed to create an amazing invention, or come up with a fantastic new taste sensation, one of the doodles you penned along the way might make for a memorable logo. But don’t count on it. Nor is this a job for that nephew in high school who has a ‘knack for art-stuff.’ While it’s true that a young design intern came up with the Nike swoosh (and received a whopping $35 for her effort), the company’s own graphics team still spent a lot of time refining the concept.
So, let’s consider what makes for a good logo. There are basically five criteria to be met: eye-catching, unique, enduring, functional and meaningful.
Eye-catching – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? That’s true to a certain extent, but there are certain principles of design that hold up fairly well across all cultures and demographics. For example, balance is always important. We like things to feel even, symmetrical, and in balance. Color choices are also critical for a whole host of reasons for which entire books have been dedicated. Color is very symbolic and can have a subconscious effect on people. Over all, a good logo will have elements composed with clear, distinct lines that imply complexity, yet are quite simple if considered separately, and color will be chosen carefully.
Unique – Distinctiveness is the key objective of any successful logo design. It will go a long way toward making the image—and by extension, the brand—especially memorable. One good way to achieve this is by incorporating the company’s name (or some element of the name) into the design. On the other hand, a visual representation of the company name might prove to be perfect.
Enduring – Imagine how much trouble people would have recognizing you, if every time you left home you had a different face? That’s the problem companies experience if they frequently change their logos. When you select a logo design, think of it as something that’s going to be around a long, long time (though a “facelift” or two over the years may be okay). Stay away from elements that are likely to become dated or obsolete, choosing instead those that can be modified with ease while remaining thoroughly identifiable. Our campaign for Landis Evans + Partners did just that – the company changed its name, but wanted to maintain some aspects of the original brand that made it identifiable like the color palette and some of the shapes. Below is the before and after.
Functional – Just think of all the places that a logo can appear, from business cards to billboards and websites to weekly flyers. Your logo is going to have to step in and say, “This is who we are!” It will also need to be scalable, ready to be plugged-in anywhere, and flexible enough to easily go from being the dominant image to barely noticeable—depending on the circumstances and the communications in which it appears.
Meaningful – A good logo doesn’t have to spell out what a company does, but it should at least hint in that direction. A great logo not only does that, but it also manages to elicit feelings with members of the target audience. A great logo describes an implied value proposition to set the company apart from their competition.
Types of Design: Utilizing Nostalgia and Vernacular
Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main emphasis. In looking back, you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Coca-Cola’s logo is a great example of this.
During this time, the transition from hand-made goods to industrialized society’s machine-made, mass-produced items was alarming for most people. Consumers’ trust had to be won in order for these products to be viable. An interesting method of building trust and imbuing familiarity in a product or advertisement was the use of the vernacular. This was language used in everyday life. Words that everyone in a specific region or part of the country could understand.
Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, the methods and styles evolved with new technology. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them. By appealing to consumers’ comfort with familiar objects, companies were able to sell more products and build market share. Examples of nostalgia in graphic design still permeate today’s brands. Vintage fonts and sketches are used in logos and slogans on a regular basis to establish an old-world, “good old days” feel for a brands’ fundamental message. A couple good examples of this in our own community are the logo for The Pearl on First Apartments and Green Bench Brewing Co.
The Pearl on First’s logo uses the Broadway font to bring us back to the classy, elaborate Art Deco era that exudes luxury and high style. The apartments themselves are designed with an Art Deco flair – the materials and colors are classic and sophisticated.
The Green Bench logo uses fonts in both their logo and their wall mural that are reminiscent of old postcards. This nostalgic reference brings to mind family vacations and good times – perfect for Green Bench’s family atmosphere, games, and outdoor space that encourages family time with dogs and kids.
Even in our own logo—the “circle P”—there is a reference to old typewriters with the circle itself representing the circular keys from early typewriters. Our brand promises intelligent, effective communications for all of our clients. In this era of fun, cool, and edgy marketing, Pinstripe stands out as something a little more polished, yet still highly creative. The typewriter font is austere enough to resound with professionals, but the vintage edge of the font indicates a sophisticated creativity that is still hip and artistic.
We see examples of historical reference and vernacular design every day – can you think of any other local businesses that use this technique for their brand? Check out these actual vintage logos for design ideas: http://www.vandelaydesign.com/vintage-logos/
Other Examples: Logo Design and Stationary
Kokolakis Contracting is one of those clients whose logo we just couldn’t wait to see in action. We re-envisioned their logo, created new stationery, completed head shots and produced a video for their new website.
First we tackled the logo. They wanted to keep the original idea behind their logo, but give it an update and modernize it. So, the main thing that we really wanted everyone to buy into was a new, more modern color palette. This was a major departure from their old logo and the industry in general, but we thought it looked great. They did, too! They loved the bold color palette over the traditional blues and grays. They are really proud of it because they are putting it on everything they can!
Once we completed the logo, stationery was next. They chose a fairly classic look, and used Moo.com to print some of their business cards. These cards are super thick and have a beautiful orange-red layer in the center that you can see from the side of the card – the perfect complement to their bold card design. We printed the stationery in spot color with local printer, Lightning, because that orange-red just needed to be “spot” on. It was a tough color to match digitally and we wanted it to really pop and be true to their brand.
This was a really great project to work on and we are proud of the results, plus we added a cool group of people to our list of friends. Many thanks to J. Kokolakis for a great experience.
Heartwood Preserve is a nature preserve and conservation cemetery—only the second in the state to provide ‘green’ burial options. Natural, or ‘green,’ burial is a safe and environmentally friendly practice that allows the body to return to the soil naturally by using biodegradable materials, and avoiding vaults and toxic embalming fluids. Conservation burial takes this practice a step further by burying in a nature preserve rather than a conventional cemetery, and utilizing a portion of the burial fee to help permanently protect the natural environment.
The brand is, of course, inspired by nature. A hand-drawn pine cone referencing the thousands that drop from the long-leaf pines throughout the preserve serves as the iconic mark. The stationery package was printed on natural, FSC Certified, Green Seal certified, 30% recycled paper (minimum). The colors and texture throughout all marketing pieces are earthy and exude the beauty of Heartwood Preserve.
Pinstripe Marketing’s logo design and corporate identity services are built around helping companies discover their personal traits, their corporate character. We can help you create a logo that fits your corporate identity, then create a manual that will set the tone for your company’s marketing success. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the logo you envision.