visual identity

Let me start off by saying I strongly believe that each company should hire a branding professional or an experienced logo designer to create their visual identity and signature. Every logo design should be based on a well researched brief constructed on the company's strategies and objectives, as well as on the ever-evolving market. These things being said, where does that leave the "ready-made logo designs"? Do they have a legitimate place on the market? We all know there already is a huge market for them. Ready-made logo designs for sale come out of the designers inspiration, either as exercises the designers make on different themes, or as a result of a sudden spark, a creative wave that "hits" the designer and results in a creative output.

Recently I had the experience of designing a logo for a client who wasn't able to envision it without the branding context. As soon as the client has seen the logo applied on a business card or a letterhead, he was convinced that it was suitable, working and alive. Following on the same idea, a few days ago we had the pleasure to post an interview with the award-winning logo designer Leighton Hubbell, who expressed the idea that a logo can live or die depending on the branding program. I agree with Leighton that some really good logos fail to reach their full potential when the branding is not top notch, while some rather ordinary logos can get a breath of new life with great branding. With these thoughts grinding in my mind I've decided to make a selection of some great visual identities to see how great logo designs work in a branding context. I've followed the way designers manage to continue the design ideas condensed and expressed through logo design and the way they expand the graphic elements and build appealing visual identities.

What is a logo? Well, this might seem a redundant question. "I create logo designs on a daily basis, you might say... I know what a logo is!" But even so, sometimes it seems hard to put it in words and give a compelling definition. We can define a logo as being a distinctive symbol, unique, with character, that belongs and visually defines a company, object, person or service. But then, we have all those other words as mark, trademark, signature, identity, brand... What should we do with those and where do they fit, as sometimes those words are used to describe a logo?