When you begin a branding project or logo design project, one of the first questions your designer might ask you is, "What type of logo are you looking for?"
Chances are, you have no idea. You just know that you want it to look good and represent your business well, right? But there's a lot more that goes into a logo design, and each type of logo gives your brand a different feel and works well for different uses. Let's break down each type of logo and figure out which one is best for your business.
1. Symbol or Icon
aka // brand marks or pictorial marks
Symbol and Icon logos are bold, simple representations of a business. These are the most recognizable types of logos, used by some of the biggest brands in the world. Symbol logos condense your brand into a single image, which can be very powerful for brand recognition.
Symbol logos often take the shape of a recognizable object (think Apple, Twitter bird, and Target bullseye), or they might be an abstract, geometric form entirely unique to the business (think Pepsi, BP, and Adidas).
A true Symbol logo consists of only an image— no business name necessary. Each of the brands pictured above are so established that their marks alone are instantly recognizable.
This can, however, be a tricky logo type for new businesses, or those without a strong brand recognition.
aka // monogram logo
Lettermarks are exclusively typographic. They use the initials or a single letter of the business name rather than its full name.
Lettermarks are similar to Symbol logos in that they use a simple mark to represent a company, but they use type instead of images.
Lettermarks are all about simplicity, and they are great for a business with a long name. NASA is a much more efficient use of space—and much easier to read— than "the National Aeronautics and Space Administration," don'tcha think?
A wordmark is probably the simplest type of logo, where the company's name alone becomes the logo with the use of a unique typeface. Businesses often use custom fonts or handwriting to ensure that their wordmark is unique, but you can also use a font that is not commonly used.
4. Combination Mark
A combination mark is exactly what it sounds like— it combines two different types of logos. Combination marks combine a wordmark with a symbol, icon, or lettermark.
Combination marks are the most popular choice for good reason—they spell out a company’s name while associating it with a visual icon.
Combination marks are also great because they open up the opportunity for businesses to create variant logos. For example, they could use the symbol alone, the wordmark alone, or their combination mark with all elements included.
It is helpful for brands to have a variety of different marks that they can employ for different uses. Chanel's variant logo marks are a great example of using different marks while still maintaining a cohesive brand identity.
aka // badge, seal or crest
An emblem is very similar to a combo mark: It may include a brand mark, word mark, or letter mark, or it might even include a combo mark in its design.
The biggest difference between an emblem and a combo mark is that emblems are enclosed in a single shape, often a circle or shield. In an emblem, the text is included within the design, rather than beside, above, or beneath it, as is usually the case with a combo logo. Emblems are not as flexible as combination marks, because their elements are more difficult to separate out.
Since emblems oftentimes resemble a badge or seal, they have an air of authority and are often used by organizations such as schools, charities, sports teams and government agencies.
So what kind of logo is best for your business?
There are lots of things to think about when determining what kind of logo is the best type for your business.
- Where will your logo be used? Will it be used mostly in print, on the web, or both?
- Will it be used on product packaging?
- Is your business name long or short?
- Do you want to include any specific imagery in your logo?
- What type of business do you have?
- Who is your ideal customer and what type of logo would appeal to them?
Need help figuring out what type of logo is best for you? Drop me a line and let's talk it out, or leave a question in the comments below!