The ABC’s of logo design.

How many of the companies above can you recognize from only part of their logo? Hint: They’re in alphabetical order.

Some were easy, right? They may have all been easy. Frankly, these are some of the most recognizable logos in the world. How do you think that happened? Maybe they were all so wonderfully designed that folks were just drawn to them? No, don’t think so, even though most are very smartly designed. There were a lot of factors that made them what they are. Not the least of which is exposure. All the marks above are viewed hundreds of thousands of times a day. Some even millions of impressions a day. That’s why you can recognize them. If they were people, they’d be celebrities.

It’s important to recognize the difference between a logo and a brand. They’re not the same thing.

Seth Godin, author of The Purple Cow, and multiple other books on marketing, had the best explanation I’ve ever heard: “So, the easy way to remember this is Hyatt Hotels. They don’t have a brand, they have a logo. Because if Hyatt had came out with a line of sneakers. We have no idea what it would be like, but Nike… Nike has a brand, because if they came out with a hotel, we know exactly what a Nike hotel would be like, because of the expectation.”

In the beginning, the company gives meaning to the logo. And over time, vice-versa.

Just because you have a favorable disposition toward a logo doesn’t mean it’s well-designed. Arguably, MTV was one of the worst designed logos ever. Yet it was a very successful brand, because they had a good product and a great company that gave meaning to the brand. Then as the brand evolved, it morphed from a static version to a “kinetic” version, that reflected the nature of the programming. Soon it was part of pop-culture.

The opposite is true, especially for startups. At first, the logo gives meaning to the company. Then over time, as the company grows, it slowly begins to give meaning to the logo. As your company’s reputation evolves, good or bad, so does your brand.

“A brand is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging and price, its history, its reputation and the way it’s advertised.”

— David Ogilvy, Founder of Ogilvy and Mather
MTV’s iconic logo is an example of a poorly designed mark with a favorable disposition. ENRON’s logo was well-rendered and nicely designed. But is not looked upon favorably, as the actions of the company transcended the brand.

Is it time for a rebrand?

If you can answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, it’s definitely time to consider a rebrand or brand update.

A new brand doesn’t necessarily mean a completely new logo.


There have been countless essays and theses examining the subliminal meaning behind Starbucks’ “twin-tailed siren logo. We won’t get into that, but when they decided that they needed a brand update updated their brand, they didn’t “go back to the drawing board”. Their market had changed, but the perception they wanted was, and is, one of superior quality. The logo changed focus by cropping tighter with each transition. Like an artist chipping away at a stone, the design became stronger simply by removing each unnecessary element, including the name.

starbucks-logo-history

A few things to consider when designing a logo.


My esteemed professor, Vernon Merrifield, once said a logo should “roll downhill”. He didn’t mean it should be round, but that the design should be easy to grasp whoever is viewing. From the top to the bottom. It should be easy to remember, and simple enough that a child could draw it from memory. It should incorporate—or at least not fight with—your brand strategy. It should look good in color or black and white. It should translate well to social media. And the colors should be consistent in video or print. This is not an exhaustive list but things often not considered.

Finally, your brand should connect in every visible touchpoint: your business card, stationery, truck design, signage, wayfinding system, collateral and advertising designs. The television network CBS was so focused on this, that even the clocks on the wall were designed within the established framework, using their approved corporate typeface.

Answers to logo quiz: Airbnb; Bridgestone Tires; Chick Fil A; Disney; Edge Browser; Ford Motor Co.; Green Bay Packers; Hilton Company; IBM; JBL; Kellogg’s; Lexus Motors; Motorola; Netflix; Opera Browser; Pinterest; Quiznos; Reese’s; Sheraton Hotels; T-Mobile; Unilever; Visa; Walgreens; Xerox Corporation; YMCA; Zurich

Ad Agencies Reinvented.

This is nothing new. From Burma Shave signs to the Mad Men heydays to the current digital diversification, agencies have always had to evolve to remain relevant and cost-effective. What remains a constant is the power of creative ideas and innovative means of communicating easily understood and persuasive brand stories—two disciplines Broderick Advertising can deliver, no matter the medium.

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