A logo (Greek λογότυπος= logotypos) is a graphical element (ideogram, symbol, emblem, icon, sign) that, together with its logotype (a uniquely set and arranged typeface) form a trademark or commercial brand. Typically, a logo's design is for immediate recognition. The logo is one aspect of a company's commercial brand, or economic or academic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other non-commercial entities.
Logo design is an important area of graphic design, and one of the most difficult to perfect. The logo (ideogram), is the image embodying an organization. Because logos are meant to represent companies' brands or corporate identities and foster their immediate customer recognition, it is counterproductive to frequently redesign logos.
Today there are many corporations, products, services, agencies and other entities using an ideogram (sign, icon) or an emblem (symbol) or a combination of sign and emblem as a logo. As a result, only a few of the thousands of ideograms people see are recognized without a name. It is sensible to use an ideogram as a logo, even with the name, if people will not duly identify it. Currently, the usage of both images (ideograms) and the company name (logotype) to emphasize the name instead of the supporting graphic portion, making it unique by its letters, color, and additional graphic elements.
Ideograms (icons, signs, emblems) may be more effective than a written name (logotype), especially for logos being translated into many alphabets; for instance, a name in the Arabic language would be of little help in most European markets. An ideogram would keep the general proprietary nature of the product in both markets. In non-profit areas, the Red Cross (which goes by Red Crescent in Muslim countries) is an example of an extremely well known emblem which does not need an accompanying name. Branding aims to facilitate cross-language marketing. The Coca-cola logo can be identified in any language because of the standards of color and the iconic ribbon wave.
Some countries have logos, e.g. Spain, Italy, Turkey and The Islands of The Bahamas, that identify them in marketing their country. Such logos often are used by countries whose tourism sector makes up a large portion of their economy.
Color is important to brand recognition, but it should not be an integral component to the logo design, which could conflict with its functionality. Some colors are formed/associated with certain emotions that the designer wants to convey. For instance, loud colors, such as red, that are meant to attract the attention of drivers on highways are appropriate for companies that require such attention. In the United States red, white, and blue are often used in logos for companies that want to project patriotic feelings. Green is often associated with health foods, and light blue or silver is often used to reflect diet foods. For other brands, more subdued tones and lower saturation can communicate dependability, quality, relaxation, etc.
Color is also useful for linking certain types of products with a brand. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) are linked to hot food and thus can be seen integrated into many fast food logos. Conversely, cool colors (blue, purple) are associated with lightness and weightlessness, thus many diet products have a light blue integrated into the logo.
In 1898, tire manufacturer, Michelin, introduced the Michelin Man, a cartoon figure who was presented in many different ways, such as eating, drinking, and playing sports. By the early 21st century, other large corporations such as MTV, Google, Morton Salt and Saks Fifth Avenue had also adopted dynamic logos, that change over time and from setting to setting.