06 Sep Visual identity: Logotypes, isotypes, imagotypes and isologos
In the field of design, always connecting with parallel issues, such as advertising or communication and marketing, the meanings of our rich vocabulary sometimes lead us to intricate recesses of language use. The professional or technical terminology in sections such as computer science or engineering, excludes the profane in the field. In the graphic design something similar happens and words are used that sometimes seem to be the same when they are not (logotypes, isotypes, imagotypes and isologos). The same family of terms applied to the daily task of shaping corporate images and identities for companies and products.
Anything more than logotypes?
If you are designers, you will usually use these words, although we tend to define a generic – logo – to refer to all the expression of a brand. It is logical, avoid pedantry, get the best terminology for positioning in search engines, express yourself clearly to a client … But the truth is that the brand image of a company and its corporate visual identity are very different things. So are the McDonald’s M and the huge burger with the name of Burger King inside, although we always mention them as logos.
Let’s do it … To begin with, it would be convenient to review what the corporate image and visual identity are to which the other terms depend to a certain extent.
This is the trace or trait (if we stick to Latinism) or the graphic design and set of signs (if we modernize the issue to the design theme) that represent a company or organization and that therefore encompasses other terms that we have mentioned and We’ll see later. The name of a company and the visual elements that make it up are its brand and on this depend its logo, its style manual and all the other terms that we will see below. A logo can not exist without its previous mark and it is also immutable to the changes. We can change the logo, the identity of a brand but not the brand itself.
Logically in its visual embodiment, we will start talking about other terms because the brand we can include in the logo, we can represent it with a symbol, with an acronym or with everything at the same time and each one will use a different word depending on what we are seeing . The word – brand – therefore, hovers over others, more intangible but inherent in all of them.
Coca-Cola, Michelin or Sony are brands and will automatically evoke an image, a distinctive that makes them recognizable at first sight and also unique, but that is already provided by the very different nomenclature between them. The brands can change their logo or identification color, but they will never stop being Coca-Cola, Michelin, Sony …
Without ceasing to be an immaterial term, begin to appear here the first terms that will represent a «real» representation of what we are talking about. Incorrectly bounded to corporate identity (which sounds the same for those who are sparing in words, but it is not the same) the IVC is a physical manifestation of both the brand and the brand image (which we will now see what it is).
This corporate visual identity is acquired by shaping, planning and organizing all the elements related to the brand within a homogeneous structure that allows both its dissemination and its understanding, within parameters of identification and visual and graphic recognition.
Starting from a brand and its physical representation (through logos or symbols) and its customization through colors, shapes and shapes, we must compose a Corporate Manual, which is nothing more than a report that organizes and limits the limitations of graphic representation of a brand and its image: corporate stationery, uniforms, signage, interior decoration, signage…
Every company that wants to transmit an image (yes, brand) must plan and study the best adaptation of its symbology within one of these corporate identity manuals that will later apply systematically (ay, who does not attend your manual and finish printing brochures in one color and making the web in another) to unify criteria and increase the ability of the public to recognize and remember a brand.
We continue with abstract terminology, because the brand image is nothing else than the perception of a company or product through its graphic and visual differentiating features by the public or society. That is to say, it is an objective, a result of the planning of our identity and of the tools we use to offer it in an external and tangible format.
We will obtain the brand image after designing our identity, having planned and studied it based on values and concepts that we want to highlight and disseminate and after having promoted and publicized it, making everything interconnected with other factors such as quality of the product, the represented service or media repercussion, reporting at the end a mental association and a series of sensations in the users that will make the work of the brand, its implementation in the market or its maintenance in the popular retentive succeed or not.
LOGOTYPES, ISOTYPES, IMAGOTYPES AND ISOLOGOS
If you have endured up to this point, maybe you want to know then, that they are the logo, the isologo, the imagotype and the isotype and how they relate to all of the above. Obviously all: Once a brand is created, its values are planned and its spirit manifested, we will try to obtain an optimal public image (brand), for which programming a corporate visual identity according to our objectives, it will be time to give it shape, color, body, orientation and style. That is, to design the graphic aspect of our brand.
The most used, to refer to any graphic representation of a brand. Finally a tangible term that we can see, almost feel. However, not all are logos. In design, you tend to call everything logo (in fact, if you want to take advantage of your positioning, do not talk to Google about isologos or imagotypes) and it is the way that everyone knows the representation of the brand.
But the RAE says that logo «is the distinctive formed by letters, abbreviations, etc., peculiar to a company, commemoration, brand or product». If we also attend again to Latin (yes, that dead language that you thought you would never use after the institute), it turns out that logos is a word; and typos, it is a sign, a mark (or in more modern terms, a set of characters of any language), so we discover that a logo is the visual representation of a brand based on a word or set of words. Only fonts.
For this case we sheltered in Greek (another dead language, which was useless … ains …), so we appreciate that iso, is the same; and typos (the same as before), so that we find that the isotype is the real graphic representation of a symbol that exemplifies the brand without mentioning it, that is, a visual abstraction that represents its image. In branding, this fact is explained by understanding that the isotype will be perfect the better it expresses the values and spirit of the company (which is an art) and will be successful when its image is as recognizable as the name of the brand it represents.
However, this element is more complex. We can distinguish a classification of six elements within the family of isotypes.
– Monogram: It is the union of two or more letters, usually the initials of the words that make up the brand and that merge creating a joint symbol.
– Anagram: In which several syllables, especially in long names, come together to form an emblem, generating in turn a new word to name the brand, becoming even the dimension mark itself.
– Acronym: It is also the union of two or more letters, but unlike the monogram, they retain their reading status so that we mention each one to talk about the brand.
– Initial: Only the first letter of the mark, will represent the same in a synthesis of its name.
– Signature: Although it might seem like a logo to use (remember, those that only use typographic characters), the character of personalization that the symbol acquires, expressing in autographed and authentic letters, the values of the company, make it an isotype as a brand Exclusive
– Pictogram: In an abstract or figurative way, these symbols can summarize the name of the brand, represent sensations associated with it or directly exemplify in silhouettes or forms the product that is offered.
ISOLOGO OR IMAGOTYPE
It could come to mean the union of the previous two. Both the logo and the isotype merge and form a more explanatory and descriptive icon. At this point, we could differentiate them in the sense that one contains within the set the typographies so that they form an indivisible element (isologo) while the other is a separate representation of both elements interacting to achieve the objective of making the brand recognizable (imagotype).
All of them, now, well classified, have an objective within the corporate visual identity of a brand that wants to achieve a recognizable image, keep the message’s pregnancy in the user’s mind and make sure that its retentive does not forget the name or the values of a company or product in front of its competitor.