The Logic Of Symbols: How Do Corporations Choose Logos To Shape Their Image?

Think about the iconic corporate logos that stand out as memorable, familiar and enduring. Whether it’s the McDonald’s arched M, the Nike swoosh or the Apple … apple, there are certain icons that have worked on multiple levels.

The art and science of corporate logo design incorporates multiple elements. Best-practice design techniques, color science and testing all factor in to the development of a strong and effective corporate logo.

These decisions are critically important. A study of corporate logo design published in Harvard Business Review showed that logo choices – descriptive or nondescriptive, simple or complex, symmetrical or asymmetrical – can greatly influence consumer behavior, funding decisions and brand performance and equity.

How do corporations develop their logos? Here’s a look at the steps that result in excellent, powerful and resonant corporate logos.


The first step is to iterate what the desired outcome is for logo design. How will the logo be used? What will the logo say about your brand.

You want a logo that communicates what your brand is all about. The logo is a critical element of your broader brand strategy.


Logo design is about far more than finding a cool graphic and adding some text. It also needs to be relevant to and representative of your brand. The team working on your logo should conduct research into the following:

  • Competition. This work will assess what competitors have for logos and are there common themes and approaches within your industry
  • Versatility. Logos need to work in multiple formats and channels. You want a logo that will work on your website, social media, signage, letterhead and business cards and advertising
  • History. Is there a historical significance to your company, location or name? If so, incorporating that heritage into a logo is an ideal opportunity
  • Resonance. The logo can look fantastic on your website, but does it resonate with your target audience? A good logo will form a connection with customers

Brainstorming and Designing

Logo design is a process that will have multiple waves of presentation, discussion and refinement.

Brainstorming meetings that allow designers and executives to share ideas, concepts and approaches can elicit powerful ideas that lead to great logos. This creative process may involve initial rounds with larger groups before shifting to a smaller group of decision-makers who evaluate different rounds of options.

Some designers choose to present initial concepts in black and white, leaving the decisions on color to later in the process. A minimal approach to colors is usually the right approach, choosing hues that may already be incorporated into your brand.

Other considerations in this phase will include:

  • Typography. What fonts and faces will be included, if any, in your logo
  • Longevity. Will the logo endure and not become dated
  • Shapes. The shapes you choose say a lot about the brand. Circular shapes are perceived as softer, friendlier and caring. Angular shapes evoke a more formal and firm position
  • Icons. Whether derived from your logo or paired with them, the icons you may choose to use as part of your brand need to be aligned with the logo

Finalization and Presentation

When the logos have been finalized, they will likely go through multiple layers of approval. Marketing teams, C-suite leaders and even boards may want to share their feedback on the logo. That’s why presentation is so critical. In this phase, designers will provide examples of how the logo will look on your web page, on social channels and in company marketing materials. These presentations will be accompanied by narratives about the process, the purpose of the logo and what it is intended to evoke in customers and other stakeholders.

Logos are an important part of a brand. Using a careful process can result in an end result that’s appealing, compelling and effective.

Posted in Art

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