Logo concepts are nothing without delivery. The most ingenious concept will fail if execution is second-rate or contradictory to the brand message itself. How do you get it right and where do you start?
If you’re just arriving here for the first time, you might want to head over to the companion article that kicks this one off: Logo Design Process: Cooking Up a Stellar Concept.
Let’s say you’re a cake maker and you are tasked to make the perfect cake for a very special occasion. What do you need to know before you bring out the ingredients and start up your KitchenAid mixer?
You’ll need very specific information like the occasion, the type of cake, the shades of icing, number of tiers, and is it gluten-free? How the final product will be executed will depend on who it is for and what type of event it is for.
For example, you might not create a Pokemon themed cake with “Happy Birthday” lettering for your parents’ 30th wedding anniversary party at VanDusen Gardens. Just as you may not whip up a 3-tiered Chantilly cream cake topped with fresh flowers for a toddler’s birthday party…who also happens to be lactose-intolerant. No, maybe not.
Before getting too deep into understanding the components of execution, what do we mean by execution in the first place? In the case of the cake, we are talking about the qualities of the final product. The cake’s final shape, colour, and style are all means in expressing the overall message.
Just as with cakes, we see it in logo design through colour, shape, style, tone and typography. These are the vehicles that help convey your brand message, reach your audience and reflect the context.
There are three components to execution to consider. Your business’ logo should relate to your audience, fit within the context and reflect your brand message.
Your audience should be able to relate to your logo. It should speak to them. An 8 year old might best relate to a Pokemon birthday cake (…then again, Pokemon Go has been a hit across the board). The point is that an 8 year old should be able to say, “Hey, this birthday cake was made just for me”.
If we continue with the birthday theme and think about birthday parties, would planning a Chuck E. Cheese’s party (They literally use the apostrophe in their name, who knew?) with young kids be the same as planning a party with adults at the same venue? Likely not. In this case, the location is the same but the audience is completely different. Therefore, the party itself should be different.
Your target audience has a special set of attributes and interests. The execution of your logo should reflect these attributes and draw a connection in something that they can relate to.
Companies have specific target audiences to attract and their logos need to be geared towards them. For example, Nickelodeon is a popular TV network with programming for children. Its friendly logotype and colour reflects its young target audience’s taste. Food Network on the other hand is directed towards an entirely different audience of an older age group with distinct interests.
The Nickelodeon logo would be less effective with their young target audience if it was dark grey and had Food Network’s modern typeface. The Food Network would be far less effective in baby blue with bubble text. These networks made strategic design choices to reach their target audience.
You’ve probably heard it before: Context is everything. What is the context in which your target audience interacts with your logo? Beyond the demographics of your target audience, what are your customer’s personas? What emotions affect their needs and what piques their interests in ways that drive their choices as a consumer?
As a restaurant that mainly serves breakfast, brunch and lunch, your logo should reflect the emotional state of your target customers during that time of the day. Bright, cheerful colours is a more fitting colour palette that would appeal to the morning crowd and what they would expect as a customer.
In addition to choice in colour palette, both Yolks and Cora have a friendly vibe. Cora narrows it down even more with their style—clearly targeting the young family crowd. Can you imagine how Cora would look if it was executed differently?
Where the logo will be placed is also important in the execution of the logo. Will it be on a spine of a book, on the web, a café mug or a billboard? This should all be considered in the execution of a logo.
For example, if your logo needs to be embroidered on employee uniforms and a tight budget is a factor, a logo with 10+ colours is not the best option. Embroiderers charge per colour. If you’re putting your logo on serving boards at your restaurant, there can be limitations depending on the method you go with. Line weight, gradients and other intricacies will cause issues. Application and functionality must be considered in logo design. While the strongest logos will work in most instances and applications, it is always best to ensure a logo works effectively where it serves its main purpose.
Instilling your brand message in the execution of your logo strengthens your brand as a whole. In fact this should be the main purpose of your logo.
Let’s go back to that cake you’re making for that special occasion. Taking into account both audience and context, you now know you need a gluten-free strawberry-banana, sheet cake for an 8 year old’s pirate themed birthday party with 30 kids.
The cake represents how special this birthday boy is to the giver of the cake. It is custom made to Billy’s favourite flavour, theme and has his name on it. The medium is the message in this case. The message he would receive is how special he is to the people around him. That message is reinforced with the care and detail reflected in the final product.
Knowing the message is one of love for Billy, you would never put cherries on top if he hates them. Using your message to your target audience as a guide will focus the message they receive. Even if three of Billy’s friends love cherries, there would never be any reason to consider them because the message would be lost or confused.
This is why concept and execution need to be considered objectively as possible. If you are not your target audience, try to understand who they are. Their tastes may differ from your own. By always referring back to your brand promise and message you will quickly know when the design has gone astray.
The execution of your logo should always be focused. If there is anything that doesn’t fit for any reason—take it out. If it doesn’t speak to your audience or work within the context it won’t add to your logo. It will always subtract.
Addition through subtraction, just as Michelangelo is often attributed as saying, “I just chip away everything that does not look like David”.