Logos And Why You Need One

What is a Logo?

The term “logo” is often defined differently and used to describe different things, even within the field of graphic design. Design Action works primarily with social change organizations (grassroots groups, nonprofits, unions and sustainable businesses) so we use the term to describe:

A signature image and text combination that identifies an organization, campaign or project.

  • Logo Design Process

When you start talking logo, you will soon start hearing a bunch of other terms that sound cool and professional. Most are thrown around loosely by people trying to sound cool and professional, and may not really help you understand the process. But when used properly, some of these terms can be useful shorthand, so here are a few common ones:

Identity System:

All the elements that your group uses in concert to communicate a cohesive and recognizable presence. This system includes visual elements such as your logo, your color palette and other print and web communications pieces, as well as writing style, tone, and key messaging elements.


How the world perceives your organization, based on how it has been presented through the use of the logo, identity, press coverage, interactions, etc. We can design your logo and identity system, but how your constituency perceives you (your “brand”) will depend on that, and everything else you do.


Used synonymously with “logo.”


Used to describe the “symbol” part of the logo. Also referred to as the “logo mark.”

Style Guide:

A document describing such things as logo usage, color palette, fonts, images, etc., that have been approved for your organization. This Guide will allow future designers and people producing materials in-house the know-how to make your materials look consistent. Helping everyone adhere to a consistent presentation of your “identity” is part of the strategy for developing your “brand.” Depending on how extensive the Guide is, you will see this document titled “Logo Usage,” or “Organizational Identity,” or “Brand Guidelines.” Or sometimes you’ll see “Logo Identity Brand Guidelines.” As we said, there’s a lot of jargon in this business.

  • Logo on a coffee mug

Lets explore why you need a logo

in this era of visual overload, investing some time and thought into developing a good logo can have tangible benefits . . .

  • Recognition- You do great work. People need to know it’s you doing it.
  • Differentiation- There are others doing similar work. But they ain’t you.
  • Visual Shorthand- “What type of organization is this? Ah, I can tell from the logo.”
  • Credibility- “Is this a real organization or just someone with a website?”
  • Organizational Pride- You know who you are as a collection of people. This is who you are under one banner.
  • Personal Relationship- In a visual society, you need a face.