What is your logo story?

Basic Graphic Design

As a student in graphic design school, I loved to play with different means of graphic design to see where I landed. My favorite activity was experimenting with one-bit shapes, which could be interpreted in more than one way.

When I succeeded in creating something funny, I conceived a suitable business for it, put a name alongside the shape, and called it a “logo.” While this is tremendously entertaining and a good exercise for creativity, as a logo process, it is totally bonkers because it starts with WHAT I MANAGE TO CREATE in isolation and then invents a suitable business. 

Logo processes, in real life, are totally the opposite. We first need to start with the business and create a suitable shape for it. An icon that can tell the story of what the business does for its clients. A logo that the owner can identify with and be proud of owning. A graphic shape with its own meaning and high symbolic value. It is the logo owner and her graphic designer, together, who define the symbolic value and infuses the icon with it. It may not be obvious to others if they are not told the story behind it. The POWER of the logo is found in the consciousness of the symbolic value in the logo owner herself.

I will not pretend that creating a logo in this way is not challenging. It is indeed, and sometimes it requires a lot of time, alongside a true engagement and co-creation from the logo-owner-to-be. She cannot provide a brief and then go off on vacation for two months and expect a finished logo to come back to. She has to think and contribute. Sometimes we go two steps forward and three steps back. This engaging and co-creative work builds ownership of the new logo.

When looking at the ready results, I will gladly admit that I sometimes wonder – how did we take so much time to reach it? The complexity of the finished logo is not, however, found in the graphic shape alone. From a neutral viewpoint, two graphic objects may look almost the same, but have totally different meanings to their owners.

For instance, compare my logo icon with my client, Regina’s. Both consist of 3 circles inside one another – this cannot be explained away. Imagine that Regina and I are sitting together with our logo icons having ice cream (a shared passion.) Then a spaceship from the planet Figura lands, where the inhabitants only have the ability to see shapes, not symbols.

The Figura inhabitant stares first at Regina’s logo, then mine, and asks:

“Why do you have identical logos?”

“We don’t!” I protest.

“Yes, you have,” he says. “Your logo consists of 3 circles, and Regina’s logo consists of 3 circles.”

And it is true, of course, when seen in isolation. 

My circles make up an eye, a symbol very central to my work, which is all about VISION, the ability to see, both literally and metaphorically. Regina’s circles create a model from which she can explain her coaching method KLARHEIT VON INNEN – “Clarity from Inside.” We know the stories and values we have charged our respective symbols with, they exist first and foremost in our conscious minds and give energy to our communication with others. The Figura inhabitant does not know this, and he is unable to see it because he can only see shapes.

A logo process has 2 main results: A graphic shape and an identity.

A graphic shape that has nothing to do whatsoever with your business can be purchased from a stock-photo base or Fiverr. There are thousands of designers out there who did what I did in Design School: Play with fun figures and shapes and hope to find businesses to suit them.

Identity, ownership, storytelling, and self-confidence can only originate in co-creation between the logo-owner-to-be and a graphic designer in an authentic logo process.