Logo Design 101




Logo Design 101

Posted By: Ben McCoy
Posted In: Branding, BT Case Studies

As a brand marketing company, Bicycle Theory produces far more than websites. We provide everything from strategic consulting to Internet marketing. And that includes logo design and identity building.

In fact, we’ve already announced the creation of two new client logos this year. The first was for Piché & Associates – a new real estate company – and the second for Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (aka MORC) – the Twin Cities’ local MTB authority!


What makes a logo strong?


A logo is more than just a symbol. A logo is essentially a coat of arms or a family crest. It’s the visual representation of the brand itself.

A strong logo is a story telling device. It should not only appeal to its target audience, but should also help that audience understand (or at least reinforce) what the brand stands for. And this can be done overtly using graphic representations of key elements; and/or it can be done subliminally, using elements like color and type.


The Bicycle Theory approach to logo design


Like brands and bicycles, most logos tend to share a set of common features, but what makes them unique is the actual configuration of those elements.

When it comes to designing a strong logo, Bicycle Theory pays special attention to the component parts – including a graphic mark, logotype, and colors – and how they relate to one another.

Take the following BT produced logos, for example. The all include the various elements just mentioned; yet they all have very distinct personalities.

Additional logo design considerations


All stories have a structure. So beyond in addition to the story itself, there are also some technical considerations a good logo designer must keep in mind.

  • Format – All logos should be produced in a vector format. Vector graphics allow designers to scale logos up and down without any loss in visual quality. This is because vector graphics use ‘vectors’ – or mathematical points and lines – for reproduction; whereas raster graphics use pixels that can only be scaled down without a noticeable loss in image quality.
  • Orientation – The plain and simple fact is that the logos above don’t really work for all applications (in their current orientations). For example, a vertically oriented logo won’t fit well in a horizontal website banner or across the down tube of a bicycle. And so Bicycle Theory also takes care to make sure all the logos we produce have a horizontal version as well.
  • Colors and Treatments – BT also believes that a good logo can and should be able to have a strong one-color treatment so that it can be easily reproduced in black and white without the use of halftones or gradient elements. Halftones, gradients, and other effects – in our opinion – should only be used as treatments of a logo. They should not be integral to them. Plus, a strong logo should also include (and account for) standard and reverse (or inverse) applications.
  • Size – And last but not least, it should be legible at very small sizes. So when printed, for example, it should still be readable at sizes as small (or smaller than) half an inch.

A good example of these additional considerations can be seen in our work for Piché and Associates.

How logos inform other design applications for brands


A logo is the cornerstone element that sets the tone for and established the greater visual brand identity. As a result, the elements used to create it and how they interrelate should also inform the design other visual brand assets so that everything plays well together.

And to that end, we’ll finish this topic using the Speedhound bicycles brand we helped establish, starting with their logo and then considering how that identity played forward in creating things like bike frame graphics.

The logo, fonts, colors, and other visual brand elements used to create the base logo (and crest) are also used to create additional graphics – in this case, decals and cast metal badges. And in doing so, they work to create and reinforce the brand’s identity on the actual products they sell.

These graphics then go on to provide the foundation BT needed to design and produce all of the other brand ‘touch points’ our clients need to market the brand – including websites, business cards, trade show materials, promotional videos, social media properties, soft goods, other accessories, and so much more.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out Bicycle Theory’s work with Speedhound bikes for yourself.


Good brands have strong logos


As our readers and clients know, a brand is not a logo; however, a logo is the cornerstone of any brand’s visual identity. And in that capacity, a logo is far more than just a symbol and needs to be treated a such. It is, can be, and should be a storytelling device that helps your brand establish itself in the hearts and minds of your audience.


Bicycle Theory Logo

Bicycle Theory is a full-service brand strategy and marketing company located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.

We steer brands™ by providing Web design and development, brand strategy, Internet marketing, and identity building services for brands of all shapes, sizes, and flavors.

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