A client of ours has had a logo designed which is simply their brand name in block characters, with stock photos of smiling models within the characters themselves.
Aside from the garish design, is there a technical limitation on using images within a logo? i.e. cannot create in vector format etc.
The logo itself is incredibly high resolution (and the logo will be printed on a very large surface).
- a) Does the client own the rights to the photo outright? If the client does not own the rights, then the artwork can not be copyrighted—meaning, any other company is free to find the same stock photo and use it. This results in brand confusion and possible issues due to competitors diluting the companies brand. Exactly what you don’t want for a logo.
- b) How does the photo look when the logo is 1″ in size? Logos need to be reproduced at very small sizes. Branding should consider this. If at a small size the mark is unclear or indiscernible, then it’s not living up to its purpose.
- c) How does the logo look at very large sizes? Photos, being raster based, have a limitation to their maximum size before broken pixels occur. If at very large sizes the resolution of the photo is not high enough, you may find the mark looks horrible and conveys a very poor message for the brand.
- d) Does the logo reproduce in multiple color variations well? Logos often need to be reproduced in full color, greyscale, solid black (no halftone), and sometimes spot color. Does the photo have enough contrast to be clear when reproduced as a greyscale image? How does the photo reproduce when only solid black without halftones? Is it even possible with the photo?
- e) Non-technical: what are the races/ages of the models? Is the company targeting a specific demographic by using a photo of models that are all clearly a specific group? It is very easy to alienate customers by using general photo of people. If a potential customer sees a photo of a group of 20 year old white people, they may assume the product/service is designed for 20 year old white people and never bother looking further. Using people in a logo is almost always a very bad idea due to this.
In the end, what some uneducated clients feel is a “logo” is really nothing more than an image they use repeatedly with their company name. While that may skirt the definition of a “logo”, it often is more along the lines of “trade dress” as opposed to a “logotype.”
Sometimes you may be able to talk the client into a more practical logo; sometimes you can’t. When the client is unwavering and insists on such a bad image for a “logo,” in my opinion, they are a lost cause. Their business will often have some short-lived initial success then struggle until they give in and change their “logo” or they’ll cling to the bad image until the business fails.
Well-designed, functional logos generally consist of universal elements which work the same at all sizes and all color reproduction methods. The entire point of a logo is to be consistent. Photos are never consistent—substrate, dot gain, reproduction methods all will change how a photo reproduces. While the photo may reproduce well at relatively medium size in full color on a particular substrate, it will often fail in other use cases. Once you need to use a logo with a photo at a postage stamp size or get signage made, the logo falls apart completely, making it useless.