Before I talk about logos, let's focus our attention on art in general for a few moments. Trying to answer the question, "what is art?' will bring us closer to defining the role and the place of a logo in our everyday life.
Imagine yourself walking through a gallery; glancing over paintings and sculptures. You're overwhelmed with vivid splashes of colours, mysterious shapes and images of breathtaking landscapes. Or imagine yourself reading a book or watching a movie, seeing important people, falling in love with ravishing men and women, protecting loved ones, attaining impossible goals, and defeating wicked enemies.
Art, whether it is a painting, a sculpture, a book or even a film offers a simulation of life in the most condensed and purified form. It delivers an orgy of well-formed and defined shapes, colours or words, duplicating the experience of seeing real events in a magnified dimension. Depending on the medium, the illusions include: colours, shapes, words, sound effects and animation. When the illusions work, there is no mystery to the question "why people enjoy art?" It is identical to the question "Why people enjoy life?"
Art is a medium designed to defeat the locks that safeguard our pleasure buttons and press the buttons in various combinations. It is an imitation of life stripped of its monotony and dressed in its prettiest costumes.
Now, where do logos fit into all this?
Logos are an important part of visual arts and one of the most difficult to perfect.
Think of a logo as a piece of art with a very defined purpose and think of its design process as a 'conceptual and visual IQ test'.
Just like any artwork, logos can be a true depiction of reality; think of a human silhouette or a simplified landscape. They can be designed as abstract splashes of colours, shapes and letters.*Despite of their style, all logos are governed by the same underlying principle and they all have a well-defined commercial purpose. Their role is to aid and promote instant public recognition.
Various methods are used to combine images, symbols and words, to create a visual representation of ideas and messages.
Many logos earned their recognition through massive marketing efforts via popular media. This doesn't mean that all these logos aren't good. Most of them are good enough to do whatever logos are supposed to do, which is to stick with us and to remind us about the products they represent. There is so much fuss about logos like the Coke logo or a Nike logo but if you look at them closer and think for a while, it really is hard to find any other reason for their popularity then their repetition. Yes, we all know the Nike swoosh or the rounded script of Coke, but if ht wasn't for the millions of times we were bombarded with these logos, there wouldn't have been a real reason to remember them in the first place.
Apple logo is a different story. For someone who doesn't know the meaning behind the bite taken out of the apple, the logo is nothing but an icon, just like Nike's swoosh. However if you do know that the bite is a reference to the Bible story of Adam and Eve, in which the apple represents the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, your perception of the logo will change. From now on every time you see an Apple logo you will automatically associate it with an event that represents the company's mission delivered in a simple yet very unique way. And this extra level of meaning is what makes logos like Apple true pieces of art.
Tomasz Borowicz is an experienced strategist and designer providing award-winning identity programs worldwide. He not only creates brands for new enterprises, but also refreshes the brands of established ones.