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Protect the Power of Your Logo. Design in Some Quiet Space.

19/05/2011

I talk a lot about packaging design on here, so today I’ll dive into the bits of branding that goes into packaging as well as other things. With that in mind, it’s important to talk about logo quiet space and specifically how that works with your brand mark.

When you put together style guides or standards manuals, one of the first things you have to talk about is how to handle your brand mark ( logo). This is pretty important information. Your logo is basically the connector to everything you do and what you stand for as a company. It’s important to treat it right.

The easiest thing to do is to give your logo the breathing room needed to make sure it makes a statement of its own. This is done by prescribing a zone around your logo where nothing can compete – the quiet area. Why is this important? Firstly, you want to make sure that you leave enough space between your logo and other things. Not enough space diminishes the power of the logo and lessens’ your brand presence. People have a hard time making the connection that your company is the driver of whatever you’re looking at. If there’s truly not enough space, they may loose you entirely. Don’t make your logo compete with your message.

The other important reason for the space is that if you’re in a group of other logos, say you’re a sanctioning body or contributor, not enough space between you and the next logo might suggest some sort of partnership. Sure, that might be good if you make video games and you’re next to Playstation but what if you’re The American Lung Association right next door to Phillip Morris? Not so good. Keep a distance.

So, how much space do you need? That’s something that varies from logo to logo. I am sure that large agencies probably have some sort of scientific methods to ascertain the right dimensions, but you can find a nice distance by making a series of mock-up layouts from close to far and find what’s too far and not far enough, like the simple example above. Another method is to look at the materials you already have and locate an example that seems to feel ‘right’ and use that as gospel.

Once you have your distance, you have to tie it to the logo itself. Think scalability. Your logo is going to be many sizes and it’s crucial that the quiet area become a percentage of the logo rather than a concrete number. When the logo gets big, the quiet area will get big too, and the same thing for moving smaller. I like to find something in the logo mark itself to determine the dimension. In the example above, the width of the serpentine sets the quiet area. This guarantees that as long as the logo scales correctly, you can always ascertain an appropriate and proportional quiet area.

Logo usage rules, and quiet space rules specifically, can get far more complex than this and with fairly large corporations, they often do. Some of the variances I’ve seen and produced is two (or more) stage quiet areas – think of a soccer field with the penalty box and a goal box inside. Complexity increases with the treatment of tag lines as well as using the logo with a brand name or a sub-brand. It can get pretty labyrinthine quite quickly. On the other side of things, it’s important not to get too far into the granularity of the matter. Knock out the important rules first and determine the minutia as the situations demand.

The most important thing is to protect your brand mark and to make sure you get that information in the hands of the people operating on your logo. If you get that far, don’t let your brand down. Double check the work to make sure it follows your rules. To manage your brand well, your brand has to look good and look good all the time, making it important to have a plan for all these things.

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