Logos Don't Have to be Literal

One thing I often encounter, and a mistake that is so easy to make, is trying to tell the entire story of your business via the logo.


“I’m from South Africa, and I love pie. Can you make a logo of me, sitting on a rhino, holding a custard pie in my right hand, with a tattoo of Nelson Mandela on my left bicep, and a tagline that says: ‘It always seems impossible until you taste it?’”


This sounds more appropriate for a poster than a logo. How will this translate to a business card? How will this design live on a tag? Thankfully, with the advent of social media, and the need for logos to appear on smaller surfaces [App icon, Twitter profile pic, etc], more and more of us are quickly catching on.

How can something so simple say so much? The brand is strong.

Logos need to be simple

Logos need to be simple so that they can communicate their message quickly. The only job of a logo is to identify. Ultimately, they exist so that when you see them, you know exactly what time it is.

The psychology behind logo design is that, over time, you start to anchor experiences and emotions to a symbol. Our brains remember things that have less information. The simpler the logo, the easier for us to remember. The quicker we remember, the faster we can identify. Branding is about differentiation. The name of the game is to stand out.


“Ok, logos should be simple. What does that have to do with being literal?”


Literal equals complex

Your business is a complicated entity. Complicated, in this instance, doesn’t mean difficult. Complicated, meaning involved; with lots of moving parts. There are so many things you want to communicate to your audience:

  • Purpose

  • Vision

  • Values

  • Personality

  • Capabilities

… and so much more. How do you say all of that with a logo?

The biggest brands in the world are on to something

Logos are obviously an important part of a brand, but they aren’t everything. This is something many entrepreneurs struggle with. They realize a logo is a big deal, so they want their entire company to be represented by it. That’s a heavy load for one little logo to carry.

Your logo doesn't have to say it all. Trust the totality of your brand to represent your organization instead of leaning on your logo alone. Marketing and messaging go a long way.

Kervin FerreiraComment