WHAT IS IN A LOGO?


By
Deepa Kumari
Research Scholar
G.H. Patel Institute of Business Management
Vallabh Vidyanagar
Pursuing Ph.D in Management
the Area of Specialisation being Consumer Behavior
E-mail :
deepakumari@hotmail.com
 


" Avoid logorrhea-Make your pictures tell the story. But to tell the story, the picture has to be perfect. What you show is more important than what you say."

David Oglivy in his book, 'How To Create Advertising.'

Once, I came across the logo of once a well-known company. In the first glance, the logo seemed attractive and appealing. However, it did not make much sense to me. In short, I failed to understand the meaning it conveyed.

Sounding confused, I asked the HRD officer, " What does the logo mean?" On and on he went giving a grand and an elaborate explanation of the logo. The officer talked at length about the colors used in the logo, the curves of the logo, the ambition it conveyed and so on.

Indeed, it was a fabulous piece of art. I told the officer that their logo was too artistic to be understood by the masses. (It was like a work of modern art-at the best understood by its creator only.) To my surprise the officer even accepted so.

A study reveals that an average person is exposed to over 200 logos or brand marks per hour. Sound whacked! One starts one's morning with branded tea or coffee and dresses in logo'd clothes. And if, one has an access to internet-the 200mark raises substantially. In the clutter of logos, it is important that a logo not only stands out but also conveys the desired meaning to its' viewers.

The importance of logos cannot be denied. They help to create image of a company. External stakeholders use logos as a label to store information about organizations in mind. It can be considered as a key that opens doors in the information seeking process of an individual resulting in a complex network of meanings about the company, and the logos occupy the central place in the network.

An individual's understanding and interpretation of a logo is guided by perception of its graphical and referential parts. i.e., what is seen and what is interpreted respectively. For the desired meaning to put across, the logo must convey a strong co-relation between the picture and the meaning it conveys.

Therefore, selecting a logo is an arduous task. It includes, difficulties in distinguishing which logo would be remembered best, be most liked and most important of all create a strong sense of familiarity on the initial exposure.

Despite the importance and the widespread use of logos, many of them often end up being only identification marks, instead of communicating the values a company stands for.

As for instance, the corporate symbol of 'Wipro' consists of a sunflower with five different colours on it. " The five different colours are representative of different activities and markets. The sunflower with all its' elements is a representation of their digital advancement." A very beautiful thought applied to a very beautiful picture. But a common would hardly bother to think to such an extent. The symbol of 'HSBC' is a horizontal hexagon filled with red and white colours. No wonder! The symbol has a great visual appeal but fails to convey anything about the bank.

On the contrary, there are simple and effective symbols. There is no grandeur about them yet they convey what they are meant for. The symbol of 'Dettol' soaps and antiseptic solutions is a long and standing sword that brings the idea of protection to one's mind. The symbol of 'Dabur's Chywanprash' is an old sage meditating in the backdrop of nature. The logo is suggestive of naturalness, ancientness and age-old ayurvedic wisdom. And no wonder! The 'chywanprash' has been a popular ayurvedic preparation.

The symbol of 'Air-India'- the grand Maharaja is the finest representative of Indian hospitality. The grand Maharaja with a typical 'namaste' always seems to be inviting people to enjoy the Indian hospitality.

'Lucent Technologies' formed in February 1996 were a $20 million start up with the thousands of customers. Although an immediate member of Fortune 40, the firm did not exist in the minds of public. 'Lucent,' later began $80 million campaign to introduce itself. The focus of the company was the new company's name and logo. The word Lucent means luminous marked by clarity or translucence and the company's red circular brush stroke logo has been called as a " million dollar coffee stain." By June 1996, awareness of 'Lucent' was as high as 90 percent among the members of the financial community, largely attributed to its' name and logo.

A comparative study would be interesting to know. The life insurance corporations, the 'LIC' and the 'NIC' sport different symbols. The logo of 'LIC' is a traditional Indian symbol that stands for light, literally and figuratively. The lamp symbolizes 'light'- light that sheds darkness and brings hope. The purpose of 'LIC' is indeed to bring back 'light of hope' into the lives of many people. On the other hand, there is a symbol of 'NIC'- a peacock that has five wings set out in a definite geometric pattern. One can understand its' association with national but one fails to understand its' association with insurance.

Similarly the banks 'SBI' an 'BOB' showcase different logos. The symbol of 'SBI' is a lock that conveys safety. And precisely that is the purpose of the bank. On the other side, the symbol of 'BOB' is a human palm partly covered by a nut. Inside the nut there are a few stalks of wheat. The logo in the first glance itself is difficult to comprehend. And in no way can be associated with banking or Baroda.

It therefore is obvious that familiar looking stimuli tend to be perceived and processed faster. It is important for logos. This could result from a logo representing functional, emotional or self- expressive benefit or design being similar to well known logos. A familiar metaphor or meaning can be maximized without reducing distinctiveness. There are simple symbols with day- to –day associations and yet popular down the ages. A few examples are that of the 'Prudential' rock-a metaphor for strength; the 'Pillsbury' doughboy is a happy chef that loves to bake fresh goods. The doughboy's tummy and smile reflect the popping fresh quality of 'Pillsbury' products. The 'Energizer' rabbit is an upbeat and untiring personality that never runs out of energy just as the battery, it symbolizes that it runs longer than others. However, sometimes the desired response is not achieved because it is too difficult or artistic to store and thus fails to evoke any sense of meaning.

No wonder! Simplicity is the key word. Gandhi's hand yarn, 'charkha' is a world famous symbol for self-dependence. R.K. Laxman's famous cartoon character the common man is symbolic of a typical Indian who is always at the receiving end.

But simplicity must be powerful enough to convey the desired meaning. There is simple but ineffective breed of logos, where the logos are alphabetic or pictorial reproduction and sometimes abbreviation of the corporate names. The symbol of 'Arrow' shirts is an arrow. Similar is the case with channel 'Zee,' where the logo is a three-dimensional alphabet 'Z.' Another case in point is 'SAB' T.V., an abbreviation of 'Sri Adhikari Brothers T.V.'

Another comparative example- the logos of two popular music channels i.e., the 'MTV' and 'V.' the logo of 'MTV' is a mere reproduction of the same. But, it contains weird and funky designs on it. The logo is generally filled with bright colours. The logo is expressive of free and young spirit. On the other hand, the logo of channel 'V' is the capital letter 'V' closed by a bracket. The logo is at the best suggestive of victory or 'we.' But one fails to understand it's victory over what (??) or how unique is 'we.'

Simplicity by itself is no longer meaningful. A case in point is the ex-logo of the 'Videocon' group. It is capital alphabet V. With the passage of time, as the group expanded its' interests, it changed its' logo. It is now a bigger and brighter 'V' enclosed by two ES' that signify the interests of the company ranging from energy to electronics. The 133 years old 'TATA' group also did a similar exercise. The earlier logo was the word 'TATA' written in a drab manner. As the group revamped, it wanted to appear as young and contemporary. It also wanted to reflect its' interests from heavy engineering to tea. And hence, an unusual curved alphabet 'T' to reflect their attitude and wide interests.

As early as 1942, the United States Supreme Court recognized the psychological nature of corporate symbols. That year, Justice Felix frankfurter wrote in a landmark trademark decision: "The protection of trade-marks is the law's recognition of the psychological functions of symbols. If it is true that we live by symbols, it is no less that we purchase goods by them.

The logos act as facilitators to speed up recognition of a company or brand. The reason behind this is that pictures are faster than words. This is important because many communications are seen briefly. Proper selection is critical because logos are main vehicles for communicating image, cutting through clutter to gain attention, and speeding recognition of a product or company.

The fact cannot be denied that logos are important. Their presence can be a key ingredient in brand development and their absence can be a substantial handicap.

The golden arches of 'McDonalds' give a warm and open welcome to its' customers. The 'Utterly Butterly' girl of 'Amul' is suggestive of fun associated with eating butter. There are many such examples of logos that have survived the ravages of time because of their simplicity and effectiveness. They are not an artist's delight or an intellect's invention but a simple and sensible design to let their customers know their corporation.
 


Deepa Kumari
Research Scholar
G.H. Patel Institute of Business Management
Vallabh Vidyanagar
Pursuing Ph.D in Management
the Area of Specialisation being Consumer Behavior
E-mail :
deepakumari@hotmail.com
 

Important Note :
Site Best Viewed in Internet
Explorer in 1024x768 pixels
Browser text size: Medium