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What Is a Logo? A Desktop Publishing Glossary

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 5/31/2009

Using or designing logos is part of almost every desktop publishing project. But, what is a logo? Read on for a concise working definition of a logo as well as a description of a logo's development components.

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    What is a Logo?

    A logo design or brand is a concise image that is used to represent a company, organization, product or event. It is a visual representation of the name and often provides a simplified illustration of the products, services, or general tone of the organization it signifies.

    Logos are a vital component in the desktop publishing project arsenal. The success of many other types of DTP projects hinge on the use of a logo that effectively communicates a business or product name. A company, organization, or product can gain the most marketing success by selecting a single logo that is used consistently regardless of the application. The arrangement of the logo components may vary slightly depending on horizontal or vertical formats. In addition, budget constraints often dictate that a logo design be printed in one color or multiple colors. However, consistent use of a select set of logo configurations and color options will ensure that it is more readily recognized by the target audience.

    The components of a logo vary depending on the goals of the organization or company it represents. Because the logo is a snapshot of a wider marketing message, it should be designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of the target audience and should be flexible enough to represent a company or product effectively over time. Many logo designs include three elements: a logo "wordmark," a logo "icon" and a logo "tagline."

    The logo "wordmark" refers to the specific way a business or product name is shown in a desktop publishing logo design project. It encompasses the font or typeface used, the size or proportion of the name as compared to other elements in the logo and the specific font attributes chosen. As a logo "wordmark" is put to use in various applications, font attributes such as color, upper case, lower case, bold, or italic should remain consistent. Sometimes the "wordmark" is the only component required for a finalized logo design solution. However, even when an "icon" or "tagline" are employed, the "wordmark" should be able to stand alone and effectively communicate the company, organization or product name.

    The logo "icon" refers to the graphic or illustration used along with the "wordmark" in a desktop publishing logo design project to convey more information about the product or services represented. When developing a logo "icon" consider its size relative to the "wordmark", its location, the level of detail presented and how broad an appeal the image will garner. It is important to differentiate between an appropriate image for a logo design and an actual illustration. Because logo designs require use in a variety of applications, sizes and formats, simplicity is the hallmark of an effective "icon." Most illustration styles are simply too complicated to be used effectively in a logo design, and many can not be adequately produced as black and white options required in many logo applications.

    The logo "tagline" is a concise phrase used in conjunction with the "wordmark" to offer a description of the organization it represents, beyond the actual name of the company. It often defines the industry or product category in which the company operates with phrases like "residential and commercial construction" or "a leader in the financial industry." It can also convey company history or longevity with phrases such as "a family owned company" or "serving clients since 1935." A logo "tagline" can also serve to position the company, organization or product in the minds of viewers with phrases like "fine dining" or "luxury accommodations."

    Although logo designs don't always include all three of these components, each can serve a valuable marketing function for your desktop publishing logo development project. In addition, each component provides text, images, and attributes that can be expanded and repeated in other marketing materials for greater name recognition and appeal. Consider incorporating the "wordmark," "icon" and "tagline" in your next logo development project.