Logo is a key element in branding, whether for your company or for yourself as an entrepreneur. It helps to build brand recognition. Therefore, you need to ensure that your logo represents your brand effectively.

A logo is a combination of typography and icons. But there are many components to it, including color palette, shapes, layout and more.

Today, we’ll explore the basic types of logo so you can decide which is most relevant for your brand. Remember, this strategic choice is a great leap in the right direction!

[Entrepreneurship Tips] 6 Types Of Logos For Branding (Challenges & Tips)

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1. Wordmark

As the name suggests, a wordmark is a font-based logo that features a business’ name in text alone. These logos can use custom fonts, less common fonts, handwriting or signatures. They work really well for brands with succinct and distinct names. But if you have a really long brand name, a wordmark might not be suitable because long text will make the logo look cluttered.

Google’s logo is a great example. The name itself is catchy and memorable. When combined with unique typography, the logo creates strong brand recognition. Other brands that use wordmarks are Disney, Visa, Coca-Cola, Canon and Sony.

Wordmark is also a good choice for startups because it contains a company’s full name and helps build brand awareness. However, if a brand becomes popular, you can consider switching to a monogram or lettermark.

Wordmarks are simple since they’re essentially your brand name in a specific font. Typography is key in the absence of any symbols or pictorial elements. In fact, some people might not be willing to pay thousands of dollars to hire a professional to do this. However, you need to understand that designing a wordmark takes a lot of skill—you need to ensure that the wordmark is simple and distinctive, with only font alone. A good logo designer will be able to manipulate the text in a way that conveys your brand essence and still ensure that the logo looks professional.

Check out this article for more typography design tips, including typeface, kerning and letter-spacing, uppercase vs lowercase as well as color. Or you can also check out my blog post on how to choose the perfect font from a typographic angle~

CultMethod - Wordmark Logos

Source: By Jon Persson via CultMethod

Choose This If

  • Your brand name is short & distinct: short wordmarks are visually impactful while a distinct name in a great font will make your brand stick in customers’ minds
  • You want to build brand recognition: since wordmarks include your full brand name by default, these logos are a growth hack for small businesses in highly competitive markets

Challenges

  • Choosing the right font & manipulating the text such that it captures your brand identity
  • Might not be legible on small screens, even for short brand names (eg. social media profile on mobile devices)

Tips

  • Ensure that font/typography captures your brand essence: eg. fashion brands usually use elegant high-end fonts while legal or government agencies stick to traditional font that feels secure
  • Consider investing in a pictorial mark or lettermark that can be used for small screens

2. Monogram or Lettermark

Monogram or lettermark is a form of typographic logo. Made of text, they consist of a few letters, usually the initials of the brand or company (rather than its full name). The letters can be combined or overlapped. In other words, they are stylized versions of your brand’s initials.

Examples include Cable News Network (CNN), Home Box Office (HBO), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Do you notice a pattern in the abovementioned examples?

These brands have rather lengthy names. Hence, it makes perfect sense that they use such logos for brand identification purposes.

Simplicity is the focus for monograms or lettermarks. By utilizing just a few letters, these logos are effective at streamlining any brand.

Also, these logos can complement your main wordmark logo. You can use these alternate monogram or lettermark logo on social media. For instance, social media profile which usually requires a small logo.

CultMethod - Monogram Lettermark Logos

Source: By Jon Persson via CultMethod

Choose This If

  • You want to shorten your brand name (long, hard to pronounce or difficult to spell), especially when the logo needs to shrink down to tiny sizes like mobile devices
  • Your goal is to make it easier for your target audience to remember your brand, especially in global markets

Challenges

  • Making the logo distinct enough visually such that it becomes instantly recognizable
  • People might not know what your brand actually does or what the initials stand for

Tips

  • Choose the font carefully: align with your brand identity & what your company does, also need to be legible
  • Consider adding your full business name below the logo so people know who you are

Both wordmark and monogram/lettermark are easy to replicate and highly adaptable across branding and marketing materials. Remember, you’ll need to hire a professional who has an eye for detail to design a logo that captures the nuance of your brand.

3. Symbol Logo

Symbol logos are the exact opposite of wordmarks. These logos use a symbol or icon, without any text. Hence, they are more difficult to use as a standalone identifying logo.

Big brands like Apple, McDonald’s and Nike can use such logos because they have strong brand recognition from decades of repeated exposure and huge advertising budgets. It takes a long time for people to recognize your symbol and associate it with your brand. If you’re a startup (and not a global brand yet), it’s better to use a symbol in conjunction with a wordmark, rather than the symbol alone.

There are 2 types of symbols: pictorial and abstract.

Pictorial Mark

A pictorial mark is a graphic-based logo. It contains no text and includes an icon or symbol that represents the brand. It depicts a stylized version of something. For instance, a fruit like Apple’s logo or Twitter’s bird.

This iconic logo is ideal for established brands. It transcends language and ensures that the brand is instantly recognizable worldwide. However, it might not work well for new brands or companies without strong brand recognition. The pictorial mark might represent your brand perfectly but no one will know who it belongs to and therefore, this logo will be useless.

Pictorial marks are simple and great for profile icons. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The brain responds on a deeper and instinctive level to an image than text (which requires interpretation). Thus, pictorial marks help form a psychological connection between your audience and your brand.

Remember, the symbol or icon will stick with your brand for its entire existence so spend some time carefully choosing the right one.

Also, a pictorial mark is not a good idea if your business model is likely to change in the future. For example, you may start off selling burgers and use a burger in your logo. But what happens when you start selling sandwiches or pizzas?

CultMethod - Pictorial Mark Logos

Source: By Jon Persson via CultMethod

Choose This If

  • Your brand is well-known
  • Your brand name doesn’t lend itself well to translation
  • You want your logo to be instantly understood worldwide: image transcends language & culture
  • Your brand name lends itself to a specific image (eg. Apple, Jaguar): pictorial marks are like visual shorthands that make both symbols & brand names memorable

Challenges

  • Whether audiences know what the icon or symbol means: hard to pull off & create a successful logo unless you’re a famous brand
  • Literal depictions (eg. something about the industry the brand is in) are likely to be forgotten & difficult to “own”—you can’t copyright the outline of an apple

Tips

  • Choose the image carefully: represent the product or service (Instagram’s logo features a camera—very apt), evoke an emotion (World Wildlife Fund’s logo features a panda, an endangered species), capture brand essence (Snapchat’s logo features a ghost which highlights the app’s key feature of disappearing pictures)

Abstract Mark

Unlike the recognizable image of pictorial marks, abstract marks use an abstract geometric form that represents your brand. They usually consist of simple geometric shapes like circles, rectangles and triangles.

Examples include Nike’s swoosh, Pepsi’s divided circle and BP’s starburst logo.

Abstract marks work well because they condense your brand into a single image. Also, this type of logo allows you to create something truly unique (rather than being restricted to something recognizable).

Another benefit is that you can convey what your company does symbolically. Through color and shape, you can attribute meaning and evoke emotion around your brand. For instance, Nike’s swoosh implies movement and freedom.

Squares and rectangles convey stability, reliability, strength, order and predictability while circles convey harmony, unity, eternity and timelessness. Triangles are directional in shape and thus, their meaning changes depending on how they are positioned. Right side up triangles convey power, stability and upward momentum. Inverted triangles suggest instability or downward momentum. Triangles pointing to the side convey movement and a forward direction where the point is facing.

CultMethod - Abstract Mark Logos

Source: By Jon Persson via CultMethod

Choose This If

  • Your brand is well-known
  • Your brand name doesn’t lend itself well to translation
  • You want your logo to be instantly understood worldwide: image transcends language & culture
  • You want a unique logo

Challenges

  • Whether audiences know what the icon or symbol means: hard to pull off & create a successful logo unless you’re a famous brand
  • Designing a geometric form that captures your brand essence: requires design professionals who understand how color, shape & structure combine to create meaning

Tips

  • Carefully think through what you want the logo to convey: Do you want to elicit a certain emotion or highlight a certain brand value?

4. Mascot

Mascot logos contain illustrated characters that represent your company. They are usually colorful and cartoonish. You can think of them as ambassadors for your business. This is a fun way to create your very own brand spokesperson.

An example of a famous mascot is KFC’s Colonel.

Mascots are great in appealing to families and children.

99designs - Mascot Logos

Source: By Kelly Morr via 99designs

Choose This If

  • You want to appeal to young children or families
  • Your goal is encouraging customer interaction: mascots are great for social media marketing & real-world marketing events

Challenges

  • Might not be able to use a mascot logo across all marketing materials (eg. a highly detailed illustration may not print well on a business card)

Tips

  • Consider using another type of logo for marketing materials where mascot logos don’t work well

5. Emblem

Similar to badges, seals and crests, emblem logos consist of text inside a symbol or icon. They’re more traditional and are often the go-to choice for schools, organizations or government agencies. The auto industry also uses emblem logos. Although emblems usually have a classic style, some brands have effectively modernized the emblems. Just look at Starbucks’ mermaid emblem.

Because emblems are more detailed and due to their rigidly entwined name and symbol (it’s difficult to separate out the various elements), these logos are less versatile. It won’t be easy to replicate an intricate emblem across all brand and marketing collateral. Shrinking an emblem logo is necessary to fit into small collateral like business cards and this makes the logo difficult to read.

99designs - Emblem Logos

Source: By Kelly Morr via 99designs

Choose This If

  • You prefer a traditional classic logo with an air of authority: emblems are favored by public agencies, schools, automobiles, food & beverage businesses (eg. beer labels, coffee cups)

Challenges

  • Less flexibility than combination marks: might be difficult to replicate across all brand & marketing collateral

Tips

  • Try to keep the design simple if you intend to use this emblem logo across all collateral

6. Combination Mark

Combination mark combines a wordmark or lettermark and a symbol logo. The icon and text can be laid out side by side, stacked on top of each other or integrated together.

In combination marks, both the text and icon work together to reinforce your brand name and what your brand does. The symbol adds value to the text while the brand name adds clarification to what might have been a confusing or meaningless symbol alone.

In other words, you can visually convey what the brand represents and what it’s called. This makes it particularly useful for new or less established brands. People will also associate your brand name with your symbol. When your brand becomes renowned, you can choose to drop the brand name and rely only on the symbol logo.

Combination marks are also easier to trademark since they’re distinct logos (unlike pictorial marks). People are less likely to confuse your logo with another brand’s due to the inclusion of your brand name.

This type of logo is highly versatile. You can choose to separate the various elements and use them across collateral. This is better than wordmarks which might be long and don’t scale well.

Moirae - Combination Mark Logos

Source: By Daniel Jones via Moirae

Choose This If

  • You want a unique logo that features your brand name & a symbol (also easier to trademark)
  • You want the best of both worlds: clarity of typography & visual appearance of an icon
  • You’re aiming to build a brand identity that makes a great first impression & is easy to remember

Challenges

  • Might be difficult to apply across all collateral if the text & symbol are highly intertwined

Tips

  • Try using the text & symbol independently—without losing too much meaning

Now It’s Your Turn

Your logo will be front and center across all brand and marketing collateral, from business cards to social media.

Therefore, you need to ensure that your logo visually represents your brand and communicates the right information about your brand’s identity.

Do take some time to pick the type of logo that is most suitable for your brand.

If you just started your business or own a small business, I recommend that you download logo templates from Creative Market and customize it for your brand. But note that this requires Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.

Another alternative would be hiring a logo designer from Fiverr or Fiverr Pro (I did this actually. Check out my author branding experience). Or you can create a professional logo in a few clicks with Fiverr Logo Maker. The prices are affordable so you can save some money and use it on other important things like developing or enhancing your products or services. You can always hire a better logo designer when you generate more profits~

 

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Nicole C. W. All Rights Reserved.

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