Mom, where do logos come from?

posted by Lauren Rauseo on: 06/20/11 in category: design | tags: ,

Okay, maybe this question isn’t quite as difficult to answer as the other question. But pretty close.

Where do logos come from? First let’s define logo: a graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., often uniquely designed for ready recognition (according to

McDonald’s golden arches. Nike’s swoosh. Target’s bull’s eye. Starbucks’ mermaid (though, technically, according to the coffee giant, she’s a siren). These are all examples where the icon is so strong, the company name doesn’t even appear as part of the logo. Most likely, your company or organization doesn’t fall into this category of brands that are so well established, people will recognize them on symbol alone.

Okay, so now we know your logo will begin with the name of your business. What next? When I’m starting the process of logo design with a client, I take them through the following exercise.


What feelings should the logo evoke? What branding image or message should come through when viewing the logo? Take a look at the brands around you. How do you feel when you look at them? Peaceful and serene? Anxious and frantic? Excited and inspired? Happy and playful? What is contributing to those feelings? The colors can certainly play a role, as well as the flow of the text (script vs. serif vs. sans serif vs. display fonts), and the position of elements.


Do you have ideas about the logo? Should it be modern, traditional, serious, fun…? The answers to these questions can help to determine what typeface or typefaces are used, whether paths of elements will follow a straight line or something more organic, and what kind of graphic icons are created.


Are you looking specifically for a text-based logo? Illustration? Graphical element? What symbols, icons or imagery best portrays your business? Many logos are built using only the brand name, with no graphic at all. Just the name of the company, when presented in the appropriate way, can be all you need. Alternatively, you may wish to have a simple graphic accompany that text, whether it is something recognizable (Target’s bulls eye) or something abstract (Nike’s swoosh).

While the process of creating a logo can be intimidating (it is your brand, after all!), it doesn’t have to make you frozen with fear and frustration. If you take the time at the beginning to have this conversation with your designer, you are sure to come out with something that represents you well.

Already have a logo? What questions did you ask yourself? Leave a comment here.

About the Author

Lauren Rauseo is your one-stop shop for print design, websites, HTML email, and more. When she's not busy working on client projects, Lauren enjoys running, doing yoga, drinking a soy white mocha, and having a dance party in the living room with her kids. Shake it off, people, just shake it off.

One Comment

  1. Thanks! My spouse and I loved your article. I am corious what you think of Evergreen Business Systems?

Where do logos come from?
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