A logo (abbreviation of logotype; ) is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition. It may be of an abstract or figurative design or include the text of the name it represents as in a wordmark.
In the days of hot metal typesetting, a logotype was one word cast as a single piece of type (e.g. "The" in ATF Garamond), as opposed to a ligature, which is two or more letters joined, but not forming a word.Fyffe, Charles. Basic Copyfitting, Studio Vista, London, 1969, SBN 289797055, p.54. By extension, the term was also used for a uniquely set and arranged typeface or colophon. At the level of mass communication and in common usage, a company's logo is today often synonymous with its trademark or brand.Wheeler, Alina. Designing Brand Identity © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (page 4)
As the industrial revolution converted western societies from Agriculture to industrial in the 18th and 19th centuries, photography and lithography contributed to the boom of an advertising industry that integrated typography and imagery together on the page. Simultaneously, typography itself was undergoing a revolution of form and expression that expanded beyond the modest, serif typefaces used in books, to bold, ornamental typefaces used on broadsheet .
The arts were expanding in purpose—from expression and decoration of an artistic, storytelling nature, to a differentiation of brands and products that the growing middle classes were consuming. Consultancies and trades-groups in the commercial arts were growing and organizing; by 1890, the US had 700 lithographic printing firms employing more than 8,000 people. Artistic credit tended to be assigned to the lithographic company, as opposed to the individual artists who usually performed less important jobs.
Innovators in the visual arts and lithographic process—such as French printing firm Rouchon in the 1840s, Joseph Morse of New York in the 1850s, Frederick Walker of England in the 1870s, and Jules Chéret of France in the 1870s—developed an illustrative style that went beyond tonal, representational art to figurative imagery with sections of bright, flat colors. Playful children's books, authoritative newspapers, and conversational periodicals developed their own visual and editorial styles for unique, expanding audiences. As printing costs decreased, literacy rates increased, and visual styles changed, the Victorian decorative arts led to an expansion of typographic styles and methods of representing businesses.
The Arts and Crafts Movement of late-19th century, partially in response to the excesses of Victorian typography, aimed to restore an honest sense of craftsmanship to the mass-produced goods of the era. A renewal of interest in craftsmanship and quality also provided the artists and companies with a greater interest in credit, leading to the creation of unique logos and marks.
By the 1950s, Modernism had shed its roots as an avant-garde artistic movement in Europe to become an international, commercialized movement with adherents in the United States and elsewhere. The visual simplicity and conceptual clarity that were the hallmarks of Modernism as an artistic movement formed a powerful toolset for a new generation of graphic designers whose logos embodied Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s dictum, "Less is more." Modernist-inspired logos proved successful in the era of mass visual communication ushered in by television, improvements in printing technology, and digital innovations.
Ideograms and symbols may be more effective than written names (logotypes), especially for logos translated into many in increasingly globalized markets. For instance, a name written in Arabic script might have little resonance in most European markets. By contrast, ideograms keep the general proprietary nature of a product in both markets. In non-profit areas, the Red Cross (varied as the Red Crescent in Muslim countries and as the Red Star of David in Israel) exemplifies a well-known emblem that does not need an accompanying name. The red cross and red crescent are among the best-recognized symbols in the world. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their Federation as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross include these symbols in their logos.
can aim to facilitate cross-language marketing. Consumers and potential consumers can identify the Coca-Cola name written in different alphabets because of the standard color and "ribbon wave" design of its logo. The text was written in Spencerian Script, which was a popular writing style when the Coca-Cola was being designed.
The logo design profession has substantially increased in numbers over the years since the rise of the Modernist movement in the United States in the 1950s. Three designers are widely considered the pioneers of that movement and of logo and corporate identity design: The first is Chermayeff & Geismar, which is the firm responsible for many iconic logos, such as Chase Bank (1964), Mobil Oil (1965), PBS (1984), NBC (1986), National Geographic (2003), and others. Due to the simplicity and boldness of their designs, many of their earlier logos are still in use today. The firm recently designed logos for the Library of Congress and the fashion brand Armani Exchange. Another pioneer of corporate identity design is Paul Rand, who was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. He designed many posters and corporate identities, including the famous logos for IBM, UPS, and ABC. The third pioneer of corporate identity design is Saul Bass. Bass was responsible for several recognizable logos in North America, including both the Bell Telephone logo (1969) and successor AT&T Corporation globe (1983). Other well-known designs were Continental Airlines (1968), Dixie (1969), and United Way (1972). Later, he would produce logos for a number of Japanese companies as well. An important development in the documentation of logo design is the study of French trademarks by historian Edith Amiot and philosopher Jean Louis Azizollah.Les Marques Francaises 1824–1974
Choosing an organisation's logo's color is an important decision because of its long term implications and its role in creating differentiation among competitors' logos. A methodology for identifying potential logo colors within an industry sector is color mapping, whereby existing logo colors are systematically identified, mapped, and evaluated (O'Connor, 2011).
In today's digital interface adaptive world, a logo will be formatted and re-formatted from large monitors to small handheld devices. With the constant size change and re-formatting, logo designers are shifting to a more bold and simple approach, with heavy lines and shapes, and solid colors. This reduces the confusion when mingled with other logos in tight spaces and when scaled between media. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ use such logos.
In some countries, especially civil law countries, the threshold of originality required for copyright protection can be quite high so logo that contains simple geometric shapes or texts might not be eligible for copyright protection although it can be protected as trademark.