Here’s what makes a brand-defining logo.
There are many great logos in this world.
There are many bad logos in this world.
With the best logos, form does not follow function and function does not follow form. The best logos are works of (graphic) art that represent their brand extremely well in a wide variety of applications.
A great logo works well on a building sign.
A great logo works well on a t-shirt.
A great logo works well stamped on an automotive part.
A great logo works well on a coffee mug.
A great logo works well on a website.
A great logo works well on a golf ball.
A great logo works well in a PowerPoint presentation.
A great logo can go just about anywhere.
So what’s an example of a great logo?
“What’s so great about the FedEx logo?” you wonder.
It’s easy to read.
Certainly, it has the advantage of consisting of just five letters. But brevity does not necessarily ensure quality. The FedEx logo is made up of strong, bold letters that are plainly visible six feet tall on the side of a truck and a half-inch tall on the company home page.
When a logo requires less space to be readable, that’s always a plus. Conversely, too-tall or too-wide logos can be too difficult to work with.
The arrow that forms the void where the E and the x come together? It’s still cool to me, and I’ve known about it for 10 years. For a shipping company, a right-facing arrow is loaded with symbolism. (Notice how many imitators have popped up in trucking/delivery/logistics, with arrows in their logos.)
It’s a great umbrella.
FedEx is the mother brand with a bunch of baby brands: FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Office, and others. Instead of creating different logos for each (like some brands would), and thereby weakening the brand overall, the “FedEx” portion of the logo changes only in color, with “Ground” or “Freight” or whatever the sub-brand is tucked neatly and subserviently below.
When it comes to automotive OEM suppliers,
a logo needs to be strong, durable and well-designed, just like the vehicles the supplier’s parts go in.
But these days, as automobiles and vehicles advance technologically and become more and more sophisticated (think electric, autonomous, and interactive), great automotive OEM supplier logos may need to start looking as much like a Silicon Valley enterprise as they do a manufacturing company.
It’s a science and an art, this logo design stuff.