9 Nov 2016

The Power of Logo Systems

Traditionally, brand logos have been largely static. Designers typically create a logo in just a few orientations and a small number of varying color schemes. That’s certainly not a problem, but in today’s vast social media landscape there are often needs for a more flexible branding system. That’s one of the key reasons for the emerging popularity of logo systems.

Rather than limit a logo design to a strict set of colors and formats, logo systems allow for almost unlimited flexibility in how the logo is displayed. The goal is to allow the logo to adopt to a variety of uses and messages while still remaining recognizable and “on brand”.

Logo systems aren’t necessarily a new concept. They’ve been in use for decades by brands such as MTV. Google Doodles, which first appeared in 1998, are also a form of a logo system.

Michael Bierut, partner at Pentagram, has designed a few well-known logo systems, his most recent being the Hillary Clinton campaign logo. One of his earlier examples from 2002 is his design for New York City’s Museum of Art and Design. After creating the initial “MAD” letterforms, which are a reference to the museum’s building on Columbus Circle in Manhattan, Beirut applied a variety of color and background patterns to the type. The distinct, custom typeface allows for unlimited ways to present the logo while maintaining its unique shape.

Examples of the Museum of Art and Design logos

Should every modern logo be a logo system? Probably not. Logo systems do require more involvement than a traditional logo. Rather than a set number of variations and orientations, a logo system is forever changing and adapting to new campaigns. This could put logo systems out of reach for smaller organizations. Furthermore, many organizations have done and will continue to do just fine with static logos. But when the opportunity presents itself, the possibilities can be literally endless.