What sets a good trademark apart from an awful one? Why do some trademarks endure and others experience complete overhauls? Lets find out.
One color to rule them all.
First lets set things straight. Your trademark should always be able to work in a single color. Some might argue and shout, “but web 2.0 is the future, MORE COLORS!” This is an uneducated claim that “web 2.0″ will even last. Something else will take its place–I promise. How can we say this confidently? Well you hear it over and over, know history and you wont be doomed to repeat it. All these web 2.0 trademark are really just a revamping of all the old trends, but with more colors. Don’t believe me? Lets take a look at history of trademark design:
Remember that little company called Nike®? How about the swoosh epidemic? Maybe not, just in case lets recap, lest we forget the martyrs (believe me there are a LOT more where these came from):
You smelling what I’m steppin’ in?
Trends come and go. But good trademarks endure. Does your trademark describe what you do? Don’t just do what is popular, make sure you give it some flavor. It’s no surprise that most of these companies have redesigned their trademark.
Money, money, money…
So what are some other reasons to keep a trademark simple? It cost effective, it has legs to move to other mediums and is easier to remember. Why spend millions of dollars on making a trademark colorful and doing complex spot process colors when you can just use a single effective color?
OK, so now to the grey area. This doesn’t mean you can’t do “web 2.0″ style trademarks. It does however mean it should be effective in a single color. what do we mean by that? lets take a look at Apple’s trademark:
You can see that the trademark works in a single color. Doesn’t mean it stays this way, only that its pleasing to the eye without any addition of color. However you can see that apple went gone with the more simple emblem eventually. This is why their trademark has endured. Its effective, simple and runs laps around most trademarks.
we can apply this example the Concept Genius Emblem as well:
It’s clearly made with more of a 3D style, but it’s fitting for what we do here and for what purpose it serves. Also, it works in a single color, the shapes don’t look awkward or strange when broken down.
A little history, not the boring kind.
It’s interesting to look at the development of writing and how it formed.
Abstraction (e.g. an idea) > Oral Tradition > Symbols/Wall Paintings > alphabet to describe the symbols.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it: Abstraction was the first form of higher level thinking unique to humans. They take an abstract notion of a thing like “to hunt” and try to eventually verbalize it, hence language is formed. Now the human brain kicks it into high gear and develops Cuneiform script in an attempt to be more naturally more systematic. Eventually leading to what we know as phonetic form of writing we know.
Why did we form shapes rather than try written language first? The answer is simple. It’s also why developing a good trademark is important. It’s cross cultural. Almost didn’t think of that one huh? Now the Jimbo tribe can send message to the Jenbo tribe even though their languages have developed individually, genius! Enter Nike…
Now lets take a look at how Nike developed their branding campaign. They roughly worked back words from how we got language. Going from trademark to logotype then to just the Symbolic emblem. Eventually they use just pure abstraction in some cases. It should be noted the emblem is seen more so than not, since it’s the most primitive form of communication. Unless you count pantomime, but that would make an aweful trademark, think of all the mimes you would have to hire?!
Most of the time one can recognize the Nike brand just from look or feel of the advertisement. There is something profound when you examine this. It also shows the importance of a good brand. When you look at the history of how it developed it makes perfect sense, it was the first way of communication we had after abstraction or oral communication.
So it goes without saying, trademarks are indeed vital parts of a successful company.