Determining a brand’s “look and feel” is both art and science. It’s a research challenge that requires an understanding of a company, its products, its mission, and its unique positioning among competitors. But it’s also a distinctive kind of “artistic” challenge. It requires that the graphic artist express visually a message true to a company’s essence that is at the same time “connected” and “current” with the design “sensibilities” of the market. This holds true as much when a brand’s image is refreshed over time as when the image is first introduced.
The graphic below shows the history of the Apple logo. As we look back at the metamorphosis, it’s easy to see how the shifting expressions reflected both the company’s evolution and the dominant design elements of each period. It is a testament to the graphic designers engaged by Apple who have so adroitly managed this alignment of company with culture.
There may also be another lesson to be learned from Apple when it comes to brand expression. Sometimes, no matter how adept a marketer or a company executive may be, it is advisable to look to graphic professionals for design direction. Apple’s first logo shown here was designed internally in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Ron Wayne. For now obvious reasons, it was abandoned in favor of the Rainbow Apple after the company turned to outside designer, Rob Janoff.