Why Contextualizing Your Logo Design is Essential

Why Contextualizing Your Logo Design is Essential

Why do companies, especially successful ones, concern themselves and invest in designing their brand’s logo?

Conceptualising and creating a symbol that will represent a particular business and its products requires much time, thought, and often money.

Logos are an integral part of any brand image.

They are the graphical representations of companies or organisations’ personality and the core values they hold.

Logos are symbols that make it easy for people to identify a brand or group and what they have to offer.

Every logo stands for an identity and every element found in the logo almost always has a meaning that reinforces a brand’s character.

There are plenty of articles that provide tips for designing logos that successfully represent one’s business or affiliation.

So we will no longer discuss these useful yet generic pointers for logo design one by one.

What we will go over now are a few notes on how to contextualize your design to refine your logo further and to make them work well.

Logos have the power to elicit reactions from people.

Smart ones have a psychological effect coming from the elements that make up a logo.

Components such as colour, typeface, and style often draw inspiration from design principles as well as the arts.

However, people sometimes tend to forget that these components should also consider particular historical, social, economic, and political contexts to be more appropriate and fruitful in delivering the brand’s message.

When we make such considerations, chances are our logos will have greater and more positive impact than when we do not learn to appropriate the use of particular elements into our design.


Related:   What makes a Logo Design Successful?


Failed Logos


Take the following as examples of ignoring or perhaps not having properly thought of some factors that will affect people’s perceptions of their logos and brand.

In 2008, Pepsi redesigned their logo, and people couldn’t help but think of it as an Obama campaign rip-off.

With around five months and at least a million dollars’ worth of design revamp, Pepsi launched a logo with a loosely shaped smile in a circle, supposedly characterizing their brand as adventurous and youthful while maintaining links to other members of their brand’s family.

In 2009, they further raised suspicions when they partnered their logo with a word play campaign that is interestingly and mostly similar to Obama’s ‘Yes We Can.’

People then perceived the utter similarities between both logos as a signifier to political connections with and endorsement of Obama. Hence, some Republicans were not too keen on it.


Another failed logo was a 1973 design for the Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission.

With their logo, it’s easy to see the outline of a priest holding a child, or a young boy by his arms as if guiding and helping him stand up.

However, it’s also not too difficult to notice there’s something awkward and wrong about the positions and leveling of these two figures.

And can anyone remember one of the controversies that plagued the Catholic Church?

Yeah, the logo doesn’t do them any good when we think a bit of the church’s historical and social context.



So what other factors do we have to consider when designing logos to make them work well while being appropriate?


Political Relevance

Just like the Pepsi logo case and the brand’s wordplay campaign, we have to consider the political awareness of our consumers or potential clients.

If the Republican’s move to boycott them is all right with Pepsi, then their new logo successfully delivered the same theme and values as Obama’s election campaign without the need to worry about possible setbacks.

You may still choose a design that can be political in nature as long as it doesn’t alienate or marginalize a group of people.

If it does, then you should weigh in the binding reactions it will generate from individuals and the possible consequences of your logo, which may likely affect your image.

Other brands or companies would find themselves catering to a target audience’s, say bias towards environmentally friendly products and movements.

It is only natural to take advantage of the preference of your niche market and to use this to play to your strengths when designing your logo.

Again, your logo also symbolizes the values and principles your company, brand, or organization holds dear.




Social Relevance

Like the political relevance of logos, you may think of this aspect as something far-fetched that goes overboard your intention just to create a logo.

However, as we’ve repeated in this article, logos are symbols with specific contexts identifiable with them.

Designing a successful logo must also have a touch of social relevance.

Come up with those that either address social issues or appeal to aspirations a society or particular group of people have.

To use one like the logo of the Archdiocesan Youth Commission, which represents a social issue that pervades the Catholic Church can be problematic.

Consequently, this does not speak well about perhaps the intentions that commission has.

Another aspect of a logo upholding social awareness is its intention to refrain from offending in any way a group of persons.

Some organisations or brands will have to take a look at their logo designs from the perspectives of other sectors of the society, like the women, labour groups, PWDs, and other minorities.


Related:   5 Signs It's Time to Refresh Your Logo Design


Psychological Relevance

Logos are also known to evoke emotions.

Considering if your logo is psychologically relevant means bearing in mind people’s feelings toward your design.

Peoples of a different class, education, gender, and other cultural backgrounds will surely have different reactions upon seeing your logo.

And going back to the example above, if you’ve come short with a certain degree of political or social awareness, then expect to generate quite a stir and probable violent reactions here and there.

The backlash may not be something you’d want to encounter if value your reputation.

Other common parameters to take note of when weighing the psychological relevance of your logo are the colour and shape you’re using.

Again, different groups of peoples may define colors and shapes differently.

Even words or phrases may have different meanings, or subtexts, for individuals of various backgrounds.

We just associate ourselves differently to different elements we find in logos or other designs for ads, clothing, or even in artworks.

To elicit a positive response or one we think our organization or brand needs, we have to spend an amount of time with people to get to know how they might feel when they take a look at our logos.

We then have to incorporate certain elements into our design to produce the emotions we want from our target audience or market.


wwf-logoHistorical Value

Another important factor for our logo is being aware of the history, either of the brand or the people they cater to so as to come up with an appropriate design.

When there’s a revamp happening, you will also need to consider how the company changed over time as well the changes in your target market’s reception.

We should also keep in mind the legacy we’re trying to build or maintain.

Another historical importance we have to take into account is the history of the industry we are in, the history of the place we are a part of, and perhaps the history of the people and the environment we are working with.

Take for example WWF and their now iconic panda logo.

Historically, the panda became a symbol for the burgeoning conservation efforts happening worldwide.

And as fate would have it, the panda was recently excluded from the list of critically endangered species, further strengthening the organisation’s logo with the image of successful conservation efforts.


Financial and Economic Value

Like in any other business, we also have to remember how our logo might help our brand or organization financially and economically.

We have to consider if a particular design will improve our brand’s image and thereby increase the odds of gaining sales growth.

We also have to remember how much a logo is worth for our company in the long run especially during the investment stage.

Considering the other factors mentioned earlier will help us answer questions on the relevance of logo in creating and maintaining an image and the significant role it plays regarding our expected return on investment.

There are surely a lot of factors to consider when designing our logos.

Logo design requires careful thought, an extended period, no small amount of effort, and an understandable monetary equivalent.

There’s no question about the importance of aesthetics.

However, the impact and contextual relevance of our logos are just as important. These may be the easily forgotten or overlooked factors, but that doesn’t make them any less significant in our design process.

If anything, the aesthetics and a proper context should go hand in hand.

An aesthetically sound design must be socially relevant just as a contextually relevant logo must still be visually appealing.

After all, these factors have a common function, and that is to represent you or your company the right way, and with an impact, to ultimately help you achieve your goals.


If you need help contextualising your logo, be sure to get in touch with a top Branding agency who will know how to help!




Author Bio: Earl Jonathan Tech is the founder of PrintMeister, one of the newest online companies offering printing services that include basic printing to desktop calendar ideas. His work focuses mainly on marketing and merchandising, but he writes in his spare time.



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