Logos that Tell Brand Stories

This clever, friendly variation of the button-downed, pinstriped IBM logo speaks volumes about a change in corporate culture and product mix.There is a new trend in logo design — logos containing visual elements that convey messages about what a company does or stands for.

For years, logos have conveyed a sense of brand. The particular chocolate color is recognizable worldwide, with or without the word "Hershey." The script used by Campbell's sets apart its soup. Ditto for Coca-Cola and its sodas. Now marketers and designers are striving for more from a logo. They want logos that tell brand stories. 

Perhaps the most dramatic redesigned corporate logo belongs to IBM, long the stuffed shirt of high tech companies. The "new" IBM logo supplants the pinstriped three-letter version with one that features hieroglyphs of an eye and a bee. The "M" remains in the old style to remind you this is actually the IBM logo, while the new icons hint at a major change in corporate culture.

The friendly eye and bee connote a more approachable kind of company than the familiar IBM logo designed in 1972. Interestingly, this logo was created in 1981 by the same designer, Paul Rand, who called this version a more relaxed alternative to the original. It seems the company is catching up to its creative side.

Staples, the office supply "superstore," recently began airing TV commercials where its crumpled "L" morphs into a series of products it sells. From the company that gave us the "easy' button image, this is a great example of turning a logo into a marketing marquee.

Many companies resist tampering with their logos, for fear of weakening their brand presence. However, there appears to be a trend away from strict adherence to internal logo rules and commandments to creative uses that help tell the company's brand story. Watch for the trend and share with us examples you find.