Graphic Language: Standing Alone

"Does a Logo Need to Stand on its own?"

It’s a question nearly every designer has heard and answered, with a majority answering, “yes, it does”. My definition of what a logo should do is that a logo should identify something then, communicate a message about it. that, im sure most would agree, is “standing on its own”.

Ive recently written about how a logo should communicate personality, culture, and history, a design brief concept I always try to follow. But id like to expand this concept further. Consider this; if its not possible, or necessary, to represent in a single logo a personality, culture and/or history, what then? Does the logo no longer stand on its own (identify and communicate)? Does it really matter?

The reason I ask if it matters is because we never see a logo by itself in the marketing and advertising world. Its always supported by additional graphics, colors, textures, pictures, jingles, animation, etc. The minimal you may get in a single advertisement is a logo with a tagline underneath. And that tagline, the font its set in, and the background color and texture or photo all play a part in the brand identity. How many brand guides have you seen only have a logo in it? Think of Nike; Many of their advertisements use a “small logo, huge brand” approach. The logo may be small, tucked into the corner, but there’s no doubt what brand is being advertised. Or maybe it’s on a product. But, that product’s style, color, etc. is also part of the brand identity.

This has lead me to rethink my minimal brief concept of personality, culture, history to some extent. I do believe those things are vital, but maybe it dosnt always have to be right there in the logo, because a logo never has to stand on its own. So, maybe it’s the entire brand identity along with the mark, that should identify something, communicate a message about it, and represent a certain personality, culture, and history.