Harnessing the power of a stark, simple logo

Simplicity in a business logo can be a vague concept, and express itself in multiple ways. When a business decides to make a "simple" logo, they need to ask themselves what they really want out of it. Clear lines? Bold text? No text at all? What isn't there matters as much as what is, especially if a customer base is accustomed to certain imagery. 

Sociologist James Bowie recently contributed a piece to Slate in which he analyzed the relationship between simplicity in a design and the professional "standing" of the organization it represents. Using examples from sports logos and international flags, he notes that the "core" brands don't need to use as many crowded visual elements in designs as those that are less prominent in the public eye do.

The launching point for this discussion is basketball logos. Bowie noticed that many teams in this sport use the image of a basketball in them, while baseball, football and other sports teams don't usually represent the ball. He argues that this dates back to the days when the NBA was a "peripheral" organization and needed to draw attention to itself. He says flags functions in the same way for nations.

Whether this has a direct effect on performance or not, it's interesting for all brands to consider the implications of the images they choose. Without knowing it, companies could pick a design that is too "busy" or sends the message that they are not an industry leader. However, this doesn't need to be a bad thing, and could be simply where the company currently is and the statement they need to make to the world.

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