Which one of the logos above is easier to remember? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably have no problem recalling the logo design on the left, even after months pass. However, memorizing the second logo will be much more difficult.
Why is this so? The answer comes in one word — concrete logos.
What is a concrete logo?
A concrete logo features an object you can easily recognize — a man, woman, cat, mouse, house or anything else you’ve seen a million times before. Your brain already knows what it’s seeing when you look at logos such as the bear above, and all it has to memorize is the specific details and intricacies so you don’t mix up the bear in the logo with an actual bear. This process is simple and very fast.
On the other hand, abstract logos are very hard on our brain because there is nothing we can compare them to.We either have to memorize them in full or forget them altogether — there is no middle ground (remember how it was to learn alphabet?). Since we are all stretched for time and attention, you can imagine how many abstract logos get remembered.
Here are the top three techniques you can use to design a concrete logo, as well as the challenges that are involved.
1. Pick an animal
Some of the most iconic brands are actually rooted in animal symbols.
Throughout history, animals have always been a source of inspiration for artists. An animal can be an excellent way to represent a company, product or service because it has a personality and specific traits.
To design a successful animal-inspired logo, first consider what type of animal is the best metaphor for your client A lion can stand for courage, strength and determination. A dolphin makes us think of friendship and joy. Puma signifies speed and sophistication. The options really are endless.
These animal-inspired logos look great, but they are also an excellent example of how style can make the logo stand out. From top to bottom, there are only three animals in this collage — an octopus, a peacock and a fox. However, the style of each logo varies so much they all appear unique.
Once you’ve picked an animal, figure out what style you’re going to use — as you can see from the image above, different artistic approaches can make two logos look completely unrelated, even though they are inspired by the same animal character.
2. Celebrate nature
Probably the most famous logo from this category.
Flowers, leaves, trees and places always attract our attention — we are creatures of nature. This is why subjects like these can make a beautiful and memorable logo.
Consider how Spice Mountain and Kiwi Diamond tell two stories in one. That’s what you usually want in logos like these.
This approach works best for food, travel and restaurant industries, but it can do wonders even in places you least expect (just think of Apple Computers).
For best results, go beyond simple decoration and try to tell a story. Plants and places don’t carry a strong meaning like animals do, so it’s your job to make an interesting point with your design.
3. Put a face on it
KFC and Starbucks are two of the most recognized face logos.
Since the dawn of humanity, people have relied on each other to survive and thrive. No wonder we remember and recall faces best, no matter how similar or different they are.
All of these logos are based on a face which is characterized by one important detail. Can you tell what it is?
Our brains memorizes face and character logos very easily which is why they work so well.
To create a successful version of this logo, make the face as distinct as possible by focusing on a certain detail — eyes, hair, hat or something else. This will give the face special character so it can be easily remembered and recalled later.
A word of warning
Concrete is great for our brains but can be bad for originality. So, don’t take concreteness too far. For example, hundreds of companies use lions in their logos. If you draw an ordinary lion or use some stock illustration, your logo will end up looking uninventive, boring and impossible to separate from thousand others.
The art of interpretation is your best friend here. You have to put your own spin on how familiar objects look, and design them like a true artist. A face can be made of petals. A peacock can look like a diamond.
For inspiration, study book illustration and surrealist painters and see how other artists use imagination and fantasy to interpret everyday objects. Then go make a great logo.
Surrealism (Google Images Search)
A gallery of weird and unusual ideas you can use
Creative Illustration and Beyond
An excellent and inspiring book that shows how to transform everyday objects into artistic creations
The Logo Brainstorm Book
Very useful when exploring potential directions for your logo design