By Ken Gasque
Yes, there is a perfect logo.
It’s my favorite logo, and it’s most commonly found in the South.* It’s abstract. It’s simple. It’s bold. It’s symmetrical. It’s distinctive. It’s easily sized from a business card to a billboard. It’s been in use for over 60 years. So everyone recognizes it. It’s perfect.
I was a child when I first noticed it—it was a single red dot on a white building. Now for some unknown reason over time the single dot has transformed into three red dots on a building. Maybe the thinking is if one red dot is good three red dots are better.
I always thought the red dot was a symbol of the sun and the meaning was as long as the sun was up the store was open. My other thought was that this plain simple symbol was chosen because it was so simple to communicate to anyone from the age of 5 to 100 that this is a liquor store. But that was not what happened.
According to John Moore, South Carolina Encyclopedia, it was a matter of making the sign more noticeable. “Storefront ads so infuriated upcountry dry’s that in 1938 authorities decreed that only a discreet ‘Retail Liquor Dealer’ sign could be displayed. Seven years later, with creation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), they decided to reduce any such sign to letters only a few inches high placed in the lower right-hand corner of a display window or on the front door.
“Under these circumstances, Jesse J. Fabian, a successful Charleston liquor dealer, hired ‘Doc’ Wansley to create a legal sign for one of his shops. When it was completed, Wansley realized that few would notice such minuscule lettering and, inspired by a design then found on every pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, drew a bright red circle around his masterpiece. Thus, was born South Carolina’s famous red dot.”
The first rule of design is to ‘keep it simple.’ If the design is unique your customers will give it meaning and will identify with it emotionally. Other ‘simple’ logos are (see how many you can picture in your mind): Amazon’s smile, Walmart’s sparks, UPS shield, Chanel double Cs, McDonalds big M, Nike swoosh, Orange (French telecommunications company), MasterCard, Mercedes and FedEx are just some of the logos of ‘simple’ design. Some of these logos can be considered ‘perfect’ as well.
On the other hand, there are some embellished or decorative logos you might be able to visualize: Krispy Kreme, Fox News, Carlsberg, Chick-fil-A, Tostitos, Harley Davidson, and Foxfire. Some of these logos are better than others but they exist because they have been around for so long and are too familiar to change. Also perfect.
And then there are ‘different logos.” These are logos that have symbols that do not relate to the product or service they represent, such as: Apple, Starbucks, Undefeated, Shell, Lacoste, and Playboy. These logos are also simple and perfect.
While there are exceptions to the rule, a good name and a simple logo can be the difference for a startup company. A good name/logo should:
- grab attention
- elicit a positive emotional response
- express an appropriate meaning
- be easily recognized/recalled from memory
One last rule. Have someone test the logo with your target audience (that someone cannot be you).
*Outside of the country, the Japanese liked our Red Dot so well that they adapted it as their flag. Or so the story goes down in Charleston.
We buy with our eyes.™
About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad). www.gasque.com