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January 09 2012


Shape, Color, Content – The Language of Logos

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Before you approve that new logo you’re considering, stop for a moment to consider how people perceive visual information.

The content of your logo is third in the sequence of recognition, behind shape and color, because the brain takes more time to process language.

can be very powerful in creating content and meaning. The use of initials as an identifying mark has been around for centuries, since medieval kingdoms became economic enterprises. Letterforms are often abstracted to create clever symbols which act as metaphor for the core brand positioning.

These symbols combine a strong form and shape that influences content:


Many logos consist of only the name of the destination without any iconic symbol. These wordmarks or logotypes range in complexity from straightforward typesetting of an existing font, to a completely custom typographic mark. The most effective wordmarks have something unique embedded or changed in the typography that create metaphor and imply meaning. It can be a clever graphic inserted into the word, a texture applied to the letters, or the transformation of a letter(s).

Getting to the Heart

Too often brands rely on cliches such as script typography to denote luxury, even though it doesn’t necessarily distinguish or get to the heart of the brand. It’s not that these logos aren’t nice on the surface, but do they really speak to the core of the brand message?


For example, If you’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at the Lake Placid Lodge in New York state, the script type might confuse you. The Lake Placid Lodge is designed in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition – solid, rustic and earthy. The script type has little to do with the resort’s heritage and brand position.

Clearly, there are many decisions to be made in creating a new logo or identity for travel and destination brands; obvious considerations such as which words to include, to more subtle factors like shape and the emotional impact of certain colors. If you’d like to learn more about logo design and how shape, color and language content are interpreted by the human brain, we recommend these sources:

• Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheller

John Wiley  & Sons, Inc., 2006

• ‘Meggs’, A History of Graphic Design, 4th Edition by Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis

John Wiley & Sons, 2006

• An Osteopathic Approach to Children by Jane E. Carreiro

Elsevier Health Sciences, 2003

• “Dual perspectives give science added insight into brain” by Michael Purdy Homewood

The Gazette Online, the newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University 2002, VOL. 32, NO. 2

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