A great logo tells your brand story. An even greater one shows your brand story.
Story-telling logos go beyond recognizable trademarks such as Nike’s Swoosh, Target’s red target and Starbucks’ green siren. For example, the McDonald’s logo incorporates the golden arches that mark the beginning of the ubiquitous fast food restaurant along with the “M” in its name. The World Wildlife Fund’s logo features a stylized panda with a piercing gaze as if asking what the viewer is doing to preserve endangered wildlife.
A few logos go one step further and illustrate a brand story. They tend to come from nonprofits. A library in Pennsylvania created a logo consisting of books as the bristles of a paintbrush for a “Library Lovers Art Auction.” The African Wildlife Foundation’s logo is a galloping herd of elephants.
Government also has storytelling logos, including, perhaps improbably, the Internal Revenue Service. Its stylized, highly recognizable logo incorporates its familiar name along with a garland associated with Caesar (“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”) and an eagle with its talons holding the scale of justice. The message is pretty clear – it is your duty to pay up.
Businesses get in on the act, too. A restaurant in Newport Beach uses a cleverly constructed graphic to show it is a different kind of place to eat. A Louisville grocery delivery service makes it visually clear what it does.
One of the latest storytelling logos comes from Neuriva, a brain performance dietary supplement. Its logo is the twin hemispheres of the human brain, with the right half covered by an illustrated montage showing people working, recreating and thinking. The supplement claims it can promote better focus, memory, learning, accuracy and concentration.
Unlike a lot of drug and supplement logos that are fanciful and not especially descriptive, Neuriva’s logo provides a clear picture of what it purports to do. The name itself is descriptive, at least for people with a knowledge of Greek and Latin, by combining allusions to the Greek word for brain with the Latin word for life.
The Neuriva logo is designed to engage people and provide a convenient bridge to infographics that explain how the supplement is intended to work. Marketers launched the supplement with an app that showcases the logo while offering links to brain training, diagnostics and tracking.
The logo also has built-in versatility. The right side can be varied with different illustrations that may appeal to segmented audiences without undermining the overall effect of the logo.
The underlying value of storytelling logos is they can deliver a complicated message simply and with emotional impact, whether you are fundraising, inviting someone to a new hot spot or marketing a brain performance supplement.
Designing a storytelling logo may seem daunting, especially for people with trouble coloring inside the lines. But anyone can doodle. That doodle could be the inspiration of an enlightened logo that tells your brand story in a unique and engaging way.
Gary Conkling is principal and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling.