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A brand is more than a logo. But a company’s mark is its calling card, a shorthand for all that other stuff—the quality of the product, the level of service, the history of the company—for its composite brand. To understand the cultural power and currency of a popular logo, all you have to do is survey a set of preschoolers, who, while unable to order off a menu, can handily identify McDonald’s golden arches, as well as the emblems of Disney and Nike, to name but a few.
The newly updated and reissued Marks of Excellence, by Per Mollerup, goes deep into the evolution of logos—charting their origins in heraldry, monograms, and owner’s marks—but, more interesting from a graphic-design standpoint, it also organizes the countless logos we come across every day into tidy taxonomies of recurring themes.