Branding Concepts: Corporate Activity

A. Michael Shumate

A. Michael Shumate

Design concept is quite different from the issue of identity components mentioned previously. Among all the different logos and corporate identities that you have ever seen, there are only four basic categories of concepts.

They are:
1) Corporate Activity
2) Corporate Ideals
3) Corporate Name
4) Abstract

Corporate Activity
These identities show something about the product or the activity of the company. The monogram for Westinghouse, which makes electrical and electronic appliances, is a W that resembles an electronic circuit. The monogram for Allied Van Lines is the letter A, made to resemble a two-lane highway, because Allied Van Lines moves your household belongings “down the road.” The logo for the tire manufacturer Uniroyal is a stylized tire on pavement. This kind of identity shows what a company does or makes and is, perhaps, the first thing that many designers think of when developing identity concepts. It is a tried and true approach, but it is not the only kind of identity concept and not necessarily the best for every client.

When developing new identity concepts, think of ways to visualize what a company does, and try to make a logo from each concept.

Then, see if each of your corporate activity concepts can be incorporated in the logical initial of the company name, making a monogram.

Next, determine which combinations of activity concepts can be made with the whole word(s) of the functional corporate name. Here, different fonts will allow different possibilities, but avoid fonts that sacrifice clarity for decorative, stylistic or trendy elements. They will become dated most quickly.

If you don’t consider how each concept could be incorporated into each of the three possible components, many good possibilities will be left unexplored.

Corporate activity logos illustrate what the company does or makes. Top Row only: The Arthur Ashe Stadium covers the attendees. SwissAir flies you in jets. Alied Van lines takes your stuff down the road. Uniroyal makes tires. Lufthansa flies. Ducks unlimited is all about ducks. This veterinarian cares for pets. Cable TV is self-evident. WWF cares for endangered species like pandas. Burger King has burgers between buns. All of these show something about what these companies do, make or provide to their customers.
Designers need to determine how the corporate activity can be visualized while being combined with the appropriate letterform, which is almost always the first initial(s) of the functional name.
Wordmarks with a corporate activity concept.

This is only one of the four possible conceptual approaches to a corporate identity. There are three more to follow.

Adapted from Logo Design Theory: How Branding Design Really Works

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