When I meet clients for the first time, they almost always mention wanting to stand out from the competition. Understandably, I’ve never had anyone say “I want my logo to look just like all the other logos in my industry.” There are many different ways to set your brand apart through color choices, fonts, etc. A less common path to take is abstraction.
In terms of logo design, “abstract” simply refers to the design’s lack of literal depiction of the product or service. For instance, the Nike logo is recognized worldwide without any graphical representation of shoes or sports equipment. The logo is unique, simple, and eye-catching enough that it doesn’t rely on an expected sports icon to get its message across.
You may be thinking to yourself, “sure Nike can pull that off, they are a huge multinational company.” You’re right, of course, but they had to start somewhere, and when the Nike brand was created, no one knew who they were and they certainly didn’t recognize the now famous swoosh. The people at Nike put their faith in a student designer who was willing to think outside the box, stood behind the logo, and the rest is history.
As with any new branding, an abstract logo takes time to become recognizable. People need to see it repeatedly to have it ingrained in their minds. It may seem like a risk at first, to allow your graphic designer to create an abstract logo for your brand, because you assume a literal design will be easier to remember. There’s another way of thinking of it though, and that’s if I gave you six logos for six different zoos, and five of them use an animal and one uses something abstract image which evokes the feeling of wildlife, without actually showing it, which will you remember? There’s a good chance you’ll remember the one which set itself apart.
Unlike literal brands, when you use an abstract logo you need to have faith in the consumer’s ability to interpret the logo. This can be especially difficult for owners of small or very new business. They often get caught up in the idea that their branding should tell their entire story, and they should hold the customer’s hand to make sure they understand. This may seem like a good idea at first, but in most cases your customers are capable of interpreting your brand’s style on their own.
One of the most interesting things about an abstract logo, besides standing out from competitors, is that is triggers curiosity. It makes people stop and think about its meaning, and people thinking about your brand is almost always a good thing.
An abstract logo design isn’t necessarily the right answer for every company, and it’s up to you to decide whether it’s appropriate for your brand. It’s certainly something worth considering, and may be just what your company needs to stand out and be noticed.