15 thoughts on “Identity On the Web – Are Logos Relevant Online?”

  1. Take a look at your own page here: you have a favicon in the address bar, your translucent “follow me” tool bar has the RSS icon and the famous Twitter “t”, which is a graphical symbol for the company (you could’ve also used their tweet bird). The point is, while text dominates the web, as it should for right now, symbology is still important, if not more so. It allows us to quickly identify a product; the difference is that the product is abstract, not physical, and lacks a definition than it being there (for instance, you’re not going to find the product logo plastered all over something that you’ll buy from it.

    Besides, the rules have not changed all that much from physical products to the web all that much. Typographic logos exist everywhere. You have Nokia on that list, which is typographic, first one I think of is someone like Verizon, or even FedEx. FedEx shows us why typographic logos are useful: it gives us the name, and provides essential symbology for brand identification. Just because the web seems to be more dependent on typographical logos I would think is more a nature of environment of it’s existence rather than logos in general loosing relevance.

  2. Great article PJ. I think logo’s on the web are very relevant. Like the quote from Rand, the still do all those things, just on the web as well as offline.

    It probably comes down to the fact consumers will take what they see on the web with them when they log off, and marketing is so integrated that the visual anchor a logo provides can tie it all together.

    I like your observation of how the top online companies are text treatments of their url. This is something we logo designers tend to do instinctively to promote the url, plus dot coms tend to be newer so they haven’t built up the brand equity required to drop the name and just use symbolism.

  3. Very interesting article. Thanks!

    “The comparison of a logo to that of a street sign or a flag is both powerful and efficient in this environment. From my perspective, Rand’s description of logos as flags is why they have had such an important role in traditional business and such an unimportant role in the online environment.”

    I do however think that there is a point being missed here, and that is that the identity of a company is simply much more than the logo. When people think of Google (or indeed refer to it during a design discussion) one of the points that comes up consistently is that its simplicity accounts for its beauty and usability. This perception comes from its brand as a whole. Of course the systems that make Google the best search engine in the world are not simple in the slightest!! This shows that Googles brand identity online IS part of the key to its success and without this, it would not have gained such success I am sure. The Google brand is so well recognised that it can afford to change its logo for key times of the year, this is something that even the largest brands do not do.

    If you compare 2 online products or services that offer the same to their customers, almost without fail the more successful service will be the one whos brand identity is stronger and speaks more directly to their customers.

    In the physical world setting up a company with physical products and buildings costs substantially more than the virtual world -therefore it is easier to be credible (regardless of your logo/brand) . Online, any Tom, Dick or Harry can set up an business which in many ways creates a more urgent need for a solid brand identity that communicates a trustworthiness – and to show that this business is serious and can be trusted. Building credibility is key – and this can be done through a solid brand identity and beautiful, simple design.

    We don’t need big physical signs directing people to our websites, but we still need the branding. For different reasons online branding IS equally as important as the physical world. I agree with the general idea that usability etc. are also very important, is this not tied in to an online brand ethos in anycase?… but it’s not just about the domain name. If that was true boo.com would have had more success!

  4. Apple is ranked 20…IBM is 2nd?…That can’t be right! Nearly everyone on Earth has fallen prey to the mighty Apple…I can’t even remember the last time I saw an IBM logo…their method of determining seems to be more financially motivated rather than identity recognizability, which is more the topic of this post.

  5. ‘Are Logos relevant online?’

    Yes.
    For companies who want to highlight their identity, an effective logo is still a must.

    ‘Are Logos more relevant than the other items you’ve suggested (such as a good domain name)?’

    No…basically, they just are not as important. Establishing that relevance very early on in a design process dictates whether a logo is required or not.

  6. Are logo’s for individual personal use anything to have? That’s also a interesting aspect of logos. A lot of designers (specially webdesigner, architects) forms logos of their initials etc.

    I’ don’t know if that’s something for me, but what’s your opinion on that?

    Great article.

  7. I believe that lgo’s are relevant indeed, maybe lesser on blogs then on big brands but still. A logo gives the visual aspect to your websites which will be an important thing in their memory. It’s easier to say that famous brand with the big M then “erm that fastfood thing with those burgers.”

  8. interesting , im gonna start working on my own logo then. maybe some blog/homepages names are hard to remember but if you get a glimpse of the logo you can reconnect again to a previous memory or first impression.

  9. I just made a logo and rebranded a SaaS company in LA. After the rebrand their traffic went up, but more importantly they actually converted that traffic directly to actual sales and a spike in RFP’s. This is an online only company with no ad’s outside the webosphere. It’s an interesting conversation and I love questioning the norm, but I would have to disagree with your notion, besides if ten people are selling the same thing how does one set himself apart from the rest, by being awesome, and sometimes that means having a sweet identity.

    PS I hate not being able to see my cursor in this text editor.

    cheers 🙂

  10. Nice comments everyone – sorry it took me so long to reply.

    DStt – Well, in all honesty, in the spectrum of sites, I would say the level of imagery and logo use is quite low. I brought up my frustration on the topic of the RSSNice comments everyone – sorry it took me so long to reply.

    DStt – Well, in all honesty, in the spectrum of sites, I would say the level of imagery and logo use is quite low. I brought up my frustration on the topic of the RSS icon years ago – I simply lost that battle to what I consider a poor visual standard. Ironically, the ‘logo’ for this site was intended to symbolize no logo at all – it’s simply an ‘X’ in a box. It’s also 20 pixels by 20 pixels. You bring up a good point on the Twitter logo – I may actually do some AB testing to see if having the logo there vs some other visual cue makes any difference. I see your argument, I just don’t rely on logos all that much on this site.

    Joe Dollar – I think you nailed it here:

    When people think of Google (or indeed refer to it during a design discussion) one of the points that comes up consistently is that its simplicity accounts for its beauty and usability. This perception comes from its brand as a whole.

    Notice I did not say anything about the lack of relevance to branding, I merely stated that the logo is much less important in a company’s identity/branding. Google’s simplicity is its best brand – not some logo.

    Matt Robin – In a sense, I think we agree. How about this – logos are much lower down in the line of relevance than say, a domain name. If you’re Warren Buffet and have money to blow, by all means, have a logo designed. However, if you’re on a limited budget a logo should not be where the investment is made.

    Martin Lindelöf – Frankly, I am just not too sure. If it were my logo and I was going to work on disseminating in on other sites somehow, I would definitely have it somehow include the domain name. That said, for most of us, our logos exist only on our own sites and act simply as decorated links to our home page. I personally would devote more time on the overall experience of the site than a visual cue tucked away in the top left corner.

    sir jorge – Yes, but how? And why?

    Martijn – But how does remembering that logo help get me back to that site?

    erik – Rebranding is very different than simply refreshing a logo. I am assuming that the rebrand included a design refresh which likely entailed a rebuild as well. Those two factors alone have huge implications on the user experience – many of them having nothing to do with the rebrand at all. I could definitely see how designing a site to be more aesthetically and interactively pleasing would improve conversions. However, I would be highly skeptical of any claims of online sales increases by simply swapping out logos on a site.

    Great comments everyone. I read a lot of people saying how logos are important for online organizations, but little detail as to why or how they actually bring people to their site. Yes, we all know a good logo helps visual recognition of a brand, but I will raise the question again – how does a visual system aid in a medium that we navigate through (primarily) informationally?

  11. Logos are not irrelevant on the web, in fact they work very well when you’ve limited mental/visual bandwidth, like when you’re logo is on the page of another’s site so long as yours is identifiable. What is more important, however – the true heart of the matter, is that the multimedia nature of the web lends itself to more than just a logo and a catchphrase. Someone is giving a talk at the upcoming Flash and the City conference about the parallels between websites and film conventions, I’ve also seen that topic covered by a different speaker elsewhere, and I’m looking to give a talk myself about drawing transdisciplinary guidance from “design patterns” in older, more established media. Basically what I’m saying is why settle for just a logo when you can associate an entire range of emotions, sensual stimuli, themes, and motifs with your brand. In fact most of the big brands that have logo weight have this as well – you don’t just think of the nike swoosh, you think of sweat and strength and toil. You don’t just think of the “golden arches” – you also think of golden crispy fries and the smell they emit. Etc, etc…

    As far as how can we actually exploit logos, brand recognition, and emotional response to engage visitors and draw them to our sites, I’ve been looking into a lot of Paul Rand’s work and ideas involving use of logos. Some of his style guides give some very interesting insight into just how far a logo should be able to be stretched, distorted, repeated, oriented, or have their density manipulated to maintain grey level. All these things allow the for consistent logo recognition, while achieving fresh and innovative spins. -That’s- the kind of thing that would make -me- click through to a site, at least.

  12. Having a logo is merely part of the package. It helps to have something that people can identify with but the user experience is also just as important if not more so. Accessibility, content and support have to be there as well. Good article, makes you think a little 😉

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