A logo is a picture that symbolizes your company. But did you know that there are 7 different types of logos?
Although they are all a combination of typography and images, each logotype gives your brand a different feel. And since your logo is the first one a new customer sees, it’s important that you get it right. You want to know how to choose the best logotype for your business? Scroll on!
Words & letters
1. Lettermarks (or monogram logos)
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IBM, CNN, HP, HBO … Do you notice a pattern? These are the initials of some well-known companies with rather long names. With 2 or 3 words to remember, they’ve decided to use their initials for better brand identification. So it makes perfect sense to use monograms – sometimes called lettermarks – that represent your company.
A lettermark is a typography-based logo that consists of a few letters, usually the initials of the company. Since you use only a few letters, lettermarks are very effective in streamlining the company name if it is made up of a long name. For example, how much easier is it to say NASA instead of National Aeronautics Space Administration?
With the focus on the initials, the font you choose is especially important to ensure that the logo not only matches what your company does, but is also easy to read when printed on business cards. If you’re not an established business, it’s also a good idea to write the full company name below the logo so people can find out who you are.
2. Word marks (or company logo)
Similar to a lettermark, a wordmark is a font-based logo whose focus is solely on the company name. Think about Visa and Coca-Cola. Word marks work really well if the company has a short and individual name. Google’s logo is a very good example of this. The name itself is catchy and memorable. If combined with good typography, the logo helps to create a high degree of recognition.
As with lettermark typography is very important here. Since the focus will be on your name, you’ll need to pick a font-or design-that captures the core message of what your business is doing. For example, fashion labels tend to have clean, elegant fonts that feel high-end, while law firms or government agencies tend to stick to traditional, “heavy” fonts that feel secure.
When to use lettermark logos and word marks:
- Consider a lettermark logo if your business has a long name. Shortening your company’s name with your initials will help simplify your design, and it will be easier for customers to remember your business and logo.
- A word mark is a good choice if you are a new company and just need to be known. Just make sure your name is short enough to take advantage of the design. Anything that is too long can quickly become overloaded.
- A word mark is a good idea if you have a unique business name that will stay in the customer’s memory. Your name in a well-designed font will make your brand even more memorable.
- Both lettermarks and word marks are easy to apply to all promotional materials, making them highly versatile options for a new business.
- Remember that you have to be very conscientious when designing a lettermark or wordmark . Your company name in one font alone will not be striking enough to capture the diversity of your business. So hire a professional who has an eye for detail.
Pictures and symbols
3. figurative marks (or logo symbols)
A figurative mark (sometimes also a brand or logo symbol) is an icon – or a graphic-based design. It’s probably what you’re thinking of when you think of “Logo”: the famous Apple logo, the Twitter bird, or Target’s target. Each of these logos is so symbolic and each of these companies are so well-known that you can recognize them by their logo alone. A real figurative mark consists of only one picture alone. Therefore, it may be a difficult logotype for young companies that are not so well known.
The biggest challenge with a figurative mark is choosing the right image because that image will forever be associated with your brand. You have to think about the wider meaning this picture will have: Do you want to play with your name (like John Deere with her deer logo)? Or do you want a deeper meaning (like Snapchat with her mind telling us what the product does)? Or do you want to create an emotion (like the World Wildlife Foundation with its stylized panda – a gorgeous and endangered species)?
4. Abstract logos
An abstract logo is a particular form of a figurative mark. Instead of a recognizable image – like an apple or a bird – it’s an abstract geometric shape that represents your business. Some of the best known examples include the star-shaped BP logo, the split circle of Pepsi and the stripy Y of the Adidas flower. Like all logo icons, abstract logos work very well as they combine your mark into a single image. However, you are not limited to a recognizable image, but have the ability to create something truly unique that represents your brand.
The benefit of an abstract logo is that you have the ability to symbolically convey what your business is doing without relying on the cultural meanings of certain images. Through color and shape, you can attach meaning to your brand and develop emotions. (Think of the Nike check mark, for example, which implies movement and freedom).
Often colorful, sometimes cartoon-like and mostly funny, the mascot is a great way to create your own brand ambassador (or brand character).
A mascot is simply an illustrated character that represents your business. Consider her as an ambassador for your business. Among the most famous are the Kool-Aid-Man, the Colonel of KFC and Planters Mr. Peanut. Mascots are great for companies that want to create a soothing atmosphere by turning to families and children. Think of all the mascots at sporting events and the great dynamics they generate by involving the audience!
When to use pictures and symbols:
- A figurative mark alone can be difficult. It’s effective if you have an established brand, but that’s not a firm rule. You can also use them to graphically convey what your business is doing when your name is too long and they can also be very effective if you want to convey a desired idea or emotion.
- Figurative and abstract logos are also good for global commerce, for example, if a company name does not translate well.
- However, a figurative mark is not the best choice if you plan to change your business model in the future. You may start selling pizzas and use a pizza in your logo, but what if you someday sell or even make sandwiches or burgers yourself?
- Abstract logos allow you to create a completely unique image for your business, but it’s better to leave it to professional designers who understand how to combine color, shape, and texture to create meaning.
- A mascot is for you if you turn to young children or families. A big advantage of mascots is that they can animate customers to interact. Therefore, they are a great resource for both social media marketing and real marketing events. I mean, who does not want a picture with the Pillsbury Doughboy?
- Keep in mind that a mascot is only part of a successful logo and you may not be able to use it on all promotional materials. For example, a highly detailed illustration may not print well on business cards. So consider the next type of logo below – the combination logo
6. The combination logo
It’s already in the name! A combination logo is a logo that consists of a combined word mark or lettermark logo and a figurative mark, an abstract logo or a mascot. Text and image can be side by side, placed on top of each other, or combined to create an image. Some well-known combinations come from Doritos, Burger King and Lacoste.
Since the name is associated with the image, a combination logo is a versatile choice in which both the text and the image or mascot work together to enhance your brand. With a combination logo, people will immediately associate your name with your figurine or mascot! In the future, you may be able to rely solely on a logo and not always have to write down your name. In addition, combinations of a symbol and a text are easier to protect because together they represent an individual image as opposed to a figurative mark alone.
7. The emblem
The last big logotype is the emblem. An emblem consists of a typeface within a symbol or an image; think of badges, seals and coats of arms. These logos tend to have a traditional appearance, leaving a lasting impression and are therefore often the choice of schools, organizations and authorities. They are also very popular in the car industry. While they have a classic style, some companies have given them a more modern look to suit the 21st century (for example, Starbucks with its mermaid emblem or Harley-Davidson’s famous crest).
But because of their many details and the fact that name and symbol are closely related, they can be less versatile than the logotypes already mentioned. A nested emblem is not easy to apply to all branding materials. On business cards it may be so small that you can not read it anymore. Even if you want to print it on hats or shirts, you have to choose a really simple design, otherwise it will simply not be possible. So it’s important to make the design as uncomplicated as possible, and you’ll get a strong, clean look that will make you look like a total professional.
When to use a combination logo or emblem:
- A combination logo is a great choice for almost any business. It is versatile, usually distinctive and the most popular choice among celebrity companies. (There are also a lot of combination logos designed on 99designs.)
- The traditional look of an emblem is favored by many government agencies and schools, but it can also work well for any emerging private company, especially those in the food industry: think of beer brands and coffee cups (Starbucks!). But remember to play it safe when it comes to details. You want a design that you can print cleanly on all promotional materials.
That’s you. The 7 logo types that exist!
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