A good logo does more than just catch the eye – it conveys a brand’s identity with the simplest of designs. Digit broke down this unique creative challenge.

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Logos are like haircuts, believes Interbrand UK’s design director Jon Edge. “Someone can have a cool haircut, but if they ’re not a cool person people will see through the haircut.” 
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And this makes the logotype – to give the logo its full name – an extraordinary graphic construction, because its strokes, fills, spaces, and colours must express that most ethereal of concepts: identity. 
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Identity is sought by every company – from BT, which in 1991 spent £60m on its infamous ‘prancing piper’ rebranding, to local firms with just business cards and letterheads to consider. 
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Top US logo designer Gary Dickson believes a good logo “can seem magical”. Dickson, creative director of US-based Epidemic Design (<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.epidemicdesign.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">www.epidemicdesign</a>), adds: “A respectable logo requires research, brainstorming and a great attention to craft.”
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A decent designer will begin by spending a significant amount of time researching the company, its industry and the competition. Dickson says designers spend plenty of time producing dozens upon dozens of pencil sketches. 
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“In 1986 Paul Rand designed the logo for Steve Jobs’ Next Computers for $100,000. From this we can guess he spent around 1,000 hours in developing that logo.” What of the ethos of the logo? Interbrand’s Jon Edge believes they cannot be meaningful unless they’re holistic. 
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“I’m wary when a client asks for a new logo. The logo is not the brand. You have to look at the congruency of the whole brand and ask if it is relevant, if it needs realigning or repositioning. The logo is a signature to the brand, and the brand has a viewpoint. The logo must be sustainable and honest. 
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“I always try to give clients a logo at the last minute, because otherwise it is too easy for them to fall in love with a design too early in the process.”
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A further consideration is how brands must operate across all channels of the multimedia age – from phone screens to computer monitors, via PDAs, television, print, and radio. 
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<h2>Flexible friends</h2>
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“When working with logos in a cross-media way, the key thing is they shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all thing,” advises Daniel Letts, former interactive consultant for brand specialist Wolff-Olins. “The most successful logos are flexible.” 
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A complex logo may not translate to a phone screen, for example. There needs to be consistency but also flexibility, says Letts. “When a logo goes online there’s a whole set of intangibles. You have to consider where it crops up, how it crops up, and the kind of brand experience being offered online – ease of navigation and usability, for example, and the tone of voice of the copy.” 
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<h2>Sign of the times</h2>
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Letts stresses that a logo alone does not define a brand: “What is it that defines BBC Online? It’s not just the Gills Sans BBC logo, but the expectation there’ll be a certain way of experiencing the content, such as the way it always offers discussion threads and have-your-say areas. 
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And with Amazon, the one-click usability is very much part of the brand.” Multimedia age or not, some things will never change. Dickson warns companies that cutting corners on logo design will cut their own throats in the process. 
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“Bad logo design is detrimental to the health a business. A logo represents the company, and often will be the first or only impression someone might get of a company – on a business card for example. It will be present on almost every product, package, piece of company literature, and property a company may have. 
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“A poorly designed logo will speak volumes about the quality of services or product, even though the quality of a logo is not always proportionate to the quality of the company, product, or ser vice it represents. But not everyone out there will know that.” 
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Dickson and Letts agree that part of the job of the designer is to free clients of preconceptions and outlooks that can only limit the effectiveness of a logo.
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“Too often clients get worked up about colours,” reveals Letts. “In the old days when print was a much bigger medium, a Pantone colour was chosen and that was that. But electronically it’s not like that – if the user’s monitor isn’t calibrated it doesn’t matter how accurate the logo colour is.” 
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<h2>Say what you see</h2>
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Dickson says: “ When clients first see a new logo it’s like a Rorschach inkblot – they read all kinds of things into it.” 
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The late US graphic designer Paul Rand once said that when he unveiled the striped IBM logo to the client, an IBM executive quipped that it reminded him “of the Georgia chain gang”. 
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“How many exemplary works have gone down the drain because of such pedestrian fault-finding?” says Dickson. 
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“Bad design is frequently the consequence of mindless dabbling. Many clients are illiterate when it comes to design. Designers need to step up and help clients better understand what good design is.” 
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Dickson says working with a client means teaching them about craft. “Make it clear that your design decisions are based on knowledge, and boldly express your opinion,” he says. “I love it when people begin to understand the value of good design and the work that it requires.”
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<b>Client:</b> BAA <BR>
<b>Agency:</b> Interbrand UK <BR>
<b>Executive creative director:</b> Andy Payne 
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<h2>Evolution of the BA brand:</h2> 
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British Airways was formed in April 1972 when the government merged the two state airlines, BEA and BOAC. Its most infamous rebranding was in 1997, when it introduced world-art liveries on plane tail-fins. The latest brand incarnation is the work of Interbrand. 
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<h2>Why the change? </h2> 
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<b>Interbrand’s Andy Payne: </b>The old look was considered to be too imperialistic. Part of the livery included royal crests, and the press referred to BA planes as “flying fag packets”. 
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When we began working on the evolution of BA’s identity we were trying to get a more open and appealing sense of Britishness. There also needed to be more brand balance. Before, there was much emphasis on categories of travel such as BA Club. The master brand needed re-establishing. 
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<h2>How does the logo work? </h2>
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<b>Andy Payne: </b>We cut a new font called Mylius, which was more open and softer and took a look at colour. The previous logo employed a very dark blue that, when backlit on signage, appeared black. 
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We introduced a brighter blue that maintained its colour. This is particularly important in outlaying airports where BA aren’t the sole owner. The most difficult task was to make a marque that had the power to stand by itself yet could encompass Britishness, which is why the red and blue ribbon ‘speedmark’ was created. 
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The shape was cut to have synergy with the font’s serifs. It was basically the design that was being used for Concorde that was translated to work across the organization. We did look at more expressionistic approaches, more of a flowing ribbon, more celebratory, but these lacked the gravitas of the final version. 
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The tail-fin logo is a modern adaptation of the British Flag – again, to capture Britishness but in a modern way. There is lots of movement in the way it was done. 
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The design process took two years and went through a lot of approval processes. We had to show how it was going to work across all areas of their business, such as cargo and engineering. We had to have buy-in from these areas and show that the change would help them communicate what they are doing. 
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<h2>How does it work across multiple media? </h2>
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<b>Andy Payne: </b>Once we had agreement on the marque we had to work out a matrix of positive and negatives for use in all channels. 
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We sent artwork files for testing to printers to see how the colours scanned, and to TV production companies to check there was no onscreen flare or vibration from the artwork. We also looked at how it held up at a small size on-screen. The trick is to keep resolution low but with no loss of definition. 
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<b>Client:</b> BT<BR>
<b>Agency:</b> Wolff-Olins/Rufus Leonard <BR>
<b>Head of Design:</b> David Mercer 
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<b>Evolution of the brand:</b> The original British Telecom logo was first introduced when BT split from the Post Office in June 1981. The “prancing piper” rebranding by Wolff-Olins was unveiled in 1991. 
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The current BT logo was initially designed by Wolff-Olins for the planned merger of BT and US telecoms giant MCI Communications. That deal collapsed in 1997, but BT used the logo for its broadband arm, Openworld. In April 2003 the Openworld logo was adopted by BT as its corporate insignia, with design agency Rufus Leonard adding the letters “BT” from the Piper logo. 
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<h2>Why the change?</h2>
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<b>BT’s David Mercer:</b> By 2000 it was clear that the piper logo had become outdated. It was designed when BT was a telephonic company and was all to do with two-way communication – speaking and listening. BT’s business was becoming much more diverse, taking in broadband and global networked services. 
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<h2>How does the logo work? </h2>
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<b>David Mercer: </b> Once the decision to move from the piper logo was taken, the starting point was a complete rethink of what BT’s identity was, and it was this that led us to the BTopenworld logo. 
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It shows us as a company operating in a world in which people and businesses everywhere need to connect with each other. Our vision is to enable people to connect with whomever they want, whenever, in whatever way suits them. 
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Some have misinterpreted the logo’s colours as representing continents, but they don’t. We didn’t want to create another globe. The logo is a visual representation of a world with no boundaries. 
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<h2>What is behind the colour selection? </h2>
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<b>David Mercer: </b> They reflect the fact we’re a colourful company. Our colour palette is derived from the colours in the logo. 
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This allows our design and communications to be tailored to our varied audiences and still remain identifiably from one company. 
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The continually moving display of colours on top of the BT Tower is an exciting way of illustrating our identity, and allows us to differentiate ourselves. 
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<h2>How does it work across multiple media? </h2>
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<b>David Mercer:</b> In the past, our identity had been created to work in TV and print but because of the way communications were moving online it was important the design could be easily animated. 
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<h2>Quark’s double trouble</h2> 
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