A logo is a graphical mark that is used to publicly identify and recognize a company or entity. Needless to say, a logo is a very important piece of branding. Therefore, logo design is one of the most important aspects of graphic design. A logo and its design affect the way people perceive a brand. Depending on the business/company, there are about 8 different types of logos to consider using. At the basic level, all the different types of logos come down to text, graphical marks or a combination of both.
Because the logo is one of the first things customers notice about a brand, special care should be taken when picking out the type of logo to use. A quote from Karl Lagerfeld, a well-known creative director, and fashion designer says: “Logos and branding are so important. In a big part of the world, people cannot read French or English — but are great in remembering signs”
The following paragraphs and images shall help you understand the different types of logos. For better understanding, you shall see the types of logos for a fictional gaming company called Katana Game Studio. We shall use Katana Game Studio to depict the 8 different types of logos. These logo designs will be shown alongside the logos of popular companies. Let’s dive in!
The 8 different types of logos
1. Monogram logos or lettermarks
As the name implies, monogram logos or lettermarks simply depict the initials of a company’s name. This type of logo often looks simple but can be very memorable. Think about companies like HP, NASA, IBM, HBO, and CNN. You can probably identify these company logos after one glance. Did you know that CNN stands for Cable News Network? Kind of hard to remember, when compared to ‘CNN’. Many companies with long names often use lettermarks because they are easier to recall and identify.
Lettermarks are loved for their simplicity, minimalism, and ease to remember. Monogram logos often use two or three letters, designed with a custom font or minor stylish tweaks. Since lettermarks use the company’s initials, a lot of effort should be put into selecting the right typeface. Ideally, a custom font is the best way to make the logo stand out. If you’re a small business starting out, a monogram could be easy to design by yourself or with an online logo maker.
2. Wordmarks or Logotypes
Just like lettermarks, wordmarks are text-based logos that carry the company/business’ name. Wordmarks or logotypes are ideal for businesses with unique and distinctive names. Think of companies like Google and Coca-Cola. Even in other languages, the Coca-Cola logo is still easy to recognize. That’s the power of using memorable and unique typography in a logotype. Google’s logo is also memorable, mostly because of its catchy name, simple typeface and strong colors.
Needless to say, the choice of typography and in a wordmark logo is very important. Because the focus is on the business’s name, the font should reflex the identity and principles of the business. For example, female cosmetic companies tend to use cursive elegant fonts while legal agencies prefer strong bold fonts. Indeed, the shape and style of a font could give an idea into the type of business.
3. Letterforms or Letter Logos
Letterforms are even more minimalistic than monogram logos, consisting of a single letter. Letterforms may look easy, but they are easy to get wrong. By restricting the identification of a brand to a single letter, a lot of thought and effort should go into the design for it to stand out. A successful letterform should spark the brand’s full name in mind when seen. Think of the WordPress, Yahoo and Netflix logos.
Therefore, when creating a letter logo, use bold fonts, colors and interesting styles. Also ensure that the font used is legible, even on small sizes. This type of logo is highly scalable, making it usable and beautiful on every platform, ranging from printed materials to websites.
4. Logo Symbols or Pictorial marks or Brand marks
A logo symbol is also known as a pictorial mark or brand mark. Pictorial marks are logos based on graphics/images. These images are usually associated with real-world objects. Think of the Twitter and Apple logo, and the first thing that probably comes to mind is the iconic bird and the bitten apple. These logos are memorable, mostly because the brands are established. All it takes is one graphic to represent the brand.
That being said, new companies that lack public awareness should be wary when using pictorial marks. Because of low brand awareness, the logo may not resonate with the public. When designing a logo symbol, the most important thing to consider is the image to use. What emotion do you want to evoke from people when they see the image? You may choose an image based on personal preference or a deeper meaning. Because pictorial marks consist of a simple image, they look nice when they are scaled down. They also work well on branding materials like letterheads and business cards.
5. Abstract Logos
Abstract logos are the conceptual types of logos. An abstract logo is a kind of logo symbol. The difference is, unlike pictorial marks, abstract logo marks are not recognizable images. Like the name implies, abstract logos depict abstract, conceptual, geometric forms. A prime example of this is the Adidas flowery logo and the Pepsi circle logo. Just like pictorial marks, abstract logo marks are memorable because they consist of only one image, which represents the brand. In addition to this, abstract logos are unique and can stand out.
When creating an abstract logo, consider what your brand represents. The Pepsi circle logo is thought to be the full round belly of a man, probably full as a result of drinking too many Pepsi colas. Even though abstract marks may look “abstract”, they should have a hidden message or story behind them. The key to creating beautiful abstract logo marks is not to complicate them. Use fewer shapes, colors, and parts. Always consider how the logo will look when reduced in size. With too many elements, it will be hard to recognize it when resized.
6. Mascot Logos
A mascot logo consists of an illustrated character that represents the company brand. Mascot logos are usually cartoonish, colorful and fun. The mascot is the spokesperson of the brand, making it useful across a lot of marketing material. This type of logo is commonly used in family-oriented brands and gaming software. Mascot logos are usually appealing to children, as it gives the kids a character to relate to. Popular mascots include KFC’s Colonel and Planter’s Mr. Peanut.
When creating a mascot logo, you should consider your audience. For family-centered businesses, choose a fun wholesome mascot that will resonate with your audience. Gaming companies tend to use angry and violent-looking characters as mascots.
7. Combination Marks
It’s in the name. A combination mark is a type of logo that consists of a combination of other logo types. It could be a combination of a lettermark, wordmark with a mascot, abstract mark or pictorial mark. The layout matters, as the text and picture may be piled atop each other, put side-by-side or joined together. Notable combination mark logos are Burger King, Taco Bell, and Lacoste.
Combination marks can be the easiest logos to create and identify. They can be versatile, as both the font and images can be used to represent the brand. Combination marks are ideal for new companies, as they may represent the company icon and text name as one. As the business gets more popular, they could decide to drop the text and use the image/symbol only. Nike successfully did this with their logo. At first, the Nike logo was often seen as the “swoosh” symbol along with the text “Nike”. Eventually, once the brand became popular, the company started to use the “swoosh” icon alone.
A successful combination mark should be recognizable when either one of the elements is used. That is, seeing the text should invoke thoughts of the image and vice versa. When creating a combination mark, try not to over-complicate it. Keep the design clean and simple, yet effective.
8. Emblem Logos
Emblem logos were quite popular in the past. Even though usage has died down, emblem logos are still preferred by a lot of designers and companies. An emblem logo is usually made up of a combination of text and symbols like seals, crests and badges. They look traditional, classical and historical, these qualities making them more impactful. This type of logo are often used by government agencies, automobile companies, and universities.
Not all emblem logos have to look traditional, as they can be tweaked to look modern. The NFL logo and Starbucks emblem are prime examples of emblems with a modern twist. The Harvard University logo is more traditional in design. The Harvard logo has stood the test of time, lasting through the founding of Harvard University in 1663. Emblem logos can be very memorable, and you shall often see them last through centuries and generations, from royal stamps to family crests. Even if a brand hasn’t been around for a long time, an emblem logo will give the impression of “forever”.
When designing an emblem logo, you should think about the fonts and symbols to use. This kind of logo has limited use cases, when compared with other types of logos. Emblem logos tend to have detailed designs, making them less flexible and may look bad when the size is reduced.
There you have it. The 8 different types of logos. Which one of these are you using in your next project? The comment section is open for discussions.