the 5 types of logos

: the 5 types of logos

Before you design (or pay someone else to design) your logo, you should first consider what type of logo you need.

Deciding on a logo type should be one of your very first steps in developing a visual identity.

It’s only after you decide which logo type will work best for your company, that you should then create the logo, color scheme, fonts and other details that will represent your brand.

Download your FREE brand checklist here:Grab your FREE brand checklist!

Each logo type has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, so keep this in mind: form follows function. As you review each logo type below, think about how it will be used and where it will appear so you’re sure to have a logo “with legs” that can represent you in a myriad of mediums: be it online, in social media, in print collateral, or on signage, apparel, packaging, etc.!

wordmark

Wordmark logos

A wordmark is a logo composed entirely from text that spells out a brand name in stylized type treatment.

Successful wordmarks rarely use just a common font, but instead alter it in a way that makes it special. This can mean using a hand-drawn or custom font made especially for the company. Whether the font is custom or not, the weight, shape, size and style of the type used always conveys meaning so it should be chosen carefully to have the intended impact on your audience.

Some examples: script fonts imply a sense of formality and refinement, thick fonts have weight to communicate strength and power, italic fonts convey a sense of motion or movement and hand-drawn fonts can be seen as unique, home-spun and not definitely not corporate or cookie-cutter with a sense of hand-crafted informality.

Regardless of style, the most important thing to consider with wordmarks is legibility, especially when it’s scaled down in size because all it has is the company name to communicate the feeling you want to convey to its intended market.

So if the name of your company is short, really unique or distinctive, a wordmark logo may be a good choice for your company!

lettermark

lettermark logos

A lettermark is a logo that uses just initials to represent the company name.

Simplicity is key to a good logo and lettermarks are as simple as they get as it typically conveys a simplified version of a company’s long name. Some examples: IBM (a much catchier and concise logo than “International Business Machines”) and “EA” (a simple mnemonic for “Electronic Arts”). But, it may take some time to develop recognition to the point where people identify a lettermark or icon with a business name.

Like wordmarks, a specialized font, or a font that’s been stylized to add distinction to the letter forms, is typically used or arranged in a way to make it unique to the brand.

Lettermarks are perfect for businesses with company names that are too long, hard to pronounce, or not very distinct. They are a also a good way to save on size and still indicate your brand’s name, especially if you’ll have minimal space available for branding (like on very small packaging, for example.)

brandmark

brandmark logos

A brandmark is a bold, simple symbol or icon that represent a business.

Like a “railroad crossing” sign, an icon can express an idea more effectively, because without any text, it identifies the brand.

Since icons or symbols are universal, there is no language barrier! This makes them very useful for global companies, since consumers in other countries can associate the icon with the brand. They’re also very easy to remember: the Nike swoosh or the Target bullseye are simple symbols that are easy to remember. Lastly, because brandmarks are simple and compact, they downsize well.

However, brandmarks can be risky: using solely a symbol or icon to represent your brand may take some time to develop recognition. For this reason, they are usually used as a secondary or alternative logo for well-known or established brands. They might not be the best choice for a new startup or a smaller company that’s trying to get people more familiar with their brand.

But they can add more versatility and easier recognition factor to communicate your brand’s core values, beliefs and functions symbolically, be they concrete or abstract.Grab your FREE brand checklist!

combination mark

combination mark logos

A combination mark is a logo that incorporates a wordmark with a brandmark or a wordmark with a lettermark.

My graphics grrrl logo is an example of a combination mark:graphics grrrl logo
I’m in good company, as 56% of the top brands’ logos incorporate both text and a symbol! They are popular because, really, they are the best of both worlds: they spell out the name of a company while associating it with a visual icon and can be broken apart and used separately on their own.

From a legal perspective, combination marks are also easier to trademark because the combination of symbol and text helps make it distinctive from other logos.

Because of this and the versatility they afford, in my opinion combination marks make the best logo type for most brands.

emblem

emblem logos

An emblem is a logo that includes the company name inside a symbol or icon to resemble a badge or seal.

Because of this, they are often used in government and political organizations, but they’re also used in sports logos and private companies. Some examples: Ford, Starbucks Coffee and Harley Davidson.

Emblems can be a little tricky and inflexible, because unlike combination marks, the text and symbol are one, making it more difficult to print at small sizes like on business cards.

For that reason, emblems are the least used types of logos. But if you have a need for a compact logo that houses both your symbol and company name together in a tight space, emblems fit the bill like no other!

By understanding the unique benefits of all 5 types of logos, hopefully you’ll be able to pick the form that best works for your or your client’s business.

Is there one logo type that you prefer the most? What trends have you noticed in the logo styles recently? Can you think of any other good examples? Feel free to comment below!

graphics grrrl design red_divider
graphics grrrl design red_divider
trim, bleed & safety! Click through to get your FREE 10-point brand checklist with everything you need to before launching your brand!~graphics grrrl
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