We all know what a logo is. It is typically an image that symbolizes a brand. It helps set the tone of the brand and is one of the most important assets in any business. It is the first thing that a consumer will notice at the onset of their encounter with a brand. And it’s the thing that will help them continue to recognize it. According to Renderforest, a logo is the #1 brand identifier. And research shows that 75% of people recognize a brand by its logo.
But did you know that these logos can be of 7 different types? Each type brings to the table something unique. It is therefore important to know the different types of logos out there as it will help you choose the best type for your brand.
Monogram logos are also known as lettermark logos. As the word itself suggests, these logos are made up of a letter or a combination of letters. In most cases, they are the initials or abbreviations of a longer name of a company. This name either describes the service they provide or the founder of the company.
The key characteristic of this logo design is “keeping it simple”.
The sole focus falls on the typography used and for that reason, the most appropriate font should be utilized or created for this type of logo design.
A note of caution for those of you starting up your business or company. It’s best to avoid using a monogram/lettermark logo at the debut of your brand as this is mostly used by already-established companies. Fun fact – the industry that benefits most from monogram logos is the fashion industry. A monogram logo quite effectively elevates the image of a clothing brand.
If you are leaning towards a monogram logo, maybe try adding the full name of the company at the bottom. You can use a suitable font combination to make this work. And through this approach potential consumers will get to know the full name of your brand before they start abbreviating it.
The most common one we know is McDonald’s. The striking “M” is hard to miss and can be identified even when seen from a distance, on a sign, or a billboard.
Other famous brands including HBO, CNN, BBC, HP, Louis Vuitton, and NASA also use monogram logos.
Wordmark logos also use letters as their main design component but with the actual name of the business being the logo. These are also known as logotypes.
Wordmark logos/logotypes are best used for businesses that have a defining short name. It is a good approach for startups because they can get their name out there. On the other hand, it is clearly not an easy task to condense your business down to a word so a lot of thinking and creativity needs to go into a wordmark logo.
Apart from the name itself, the font is the main component to think about when creating this type of logo. Most brands tend to have customized fonts that achieve the look they’re after. Some brands like to use a combination of fonts to create their logo. It’s very important to know font pairs that work well together in such cases. So depending on your industry, you need to give thought to the kind of font, or fonts, that best reflect your brand’s personality. Once the font is established you can test whether all caps or lowercase works best for your business’ name.
Google’s logo is the top example of a wordmark logo. It’s a fun, catchy name and it’s not a difficult one to remember.
Another familiar name is Coca-Cola. This wordmark logo with its striking custom typeface has been etched in our brains to a degree that we know it so well. Statistics show that their logo is recognized by a staggering 94% of the world’s population.
Other famous examples include VISA, Uber, eBay, Subway, and Tiffany & Co. to name a few.
Unlike the 2 logo types we discussed above, pictorial mark logos, also called brand marks or logo symbols, are solely icon-based graphic work. The icon is mostly based on the company name. When consumers see the icon, the brand name will instantly come to mind without having to do any guesswork. At least that’s how it should be.
This brings us to its usage. New, up-and-coming brands should opt for pictorial mark logo designs only during the 2nd or 3rd phase of their brand campaign. It’s important to make your brand well-known before going for pictorial mark logos. It would be a tricky and useless venture to introduce your brand with only an icon if you haven’t created a name for yourself yet.
Once your brand is established it’s important for your icon to closely represent your brand and its values. An image can be highly interpretive in this time and age, so it’s very important to choose wisely when picking the icon that is going to be the “face of the company”
A few pictorial mark logos that have made their presence known are the Apple logo, the Twitter bird logo, the Instagram logo, and the Target logo to name a few. The thing with these brands is that they have established a long-standing place in their relevant fields. People have tested and tried what they have to offer. For these giants of the industry having an icon as a sole mode of recognition is not a problem at all.
Abstract logo marks are also image-based logos just like pictorial mark logos. The difference would be that pictorial mark logos use real images or objects that represent the brand, while abstract logos use various shapes, patterns, or meaningful symbols. As the name itself suggests any symbolic abstract mark, creatively manipulated to convey a message about the brand would work in the case of these logo designs.
Form and color are the 2 main components that drive the creation of an abstract logo. Unlike pictorial mark logos, the possibilities are endless when it comes to this type of graphic work.
When it comes to the usage of such logos it’s important to make sure there’s a meaning behind the abstract mark. You can either come up with something based on your brand tone or reverse-play it and create the logo mark and give it your meaning. After all, it’s an abstract form of art.
A good designer with intuitive thinking would be able to come up with an abstract mark that’s unique to your brand. That’s one of the key highlights of this type of logo design. One of the downsides of this kind of logo is the difficulty of successfully marketing its meaning.
The first brand that comes to mind when thinking of abstract logo marks is the Nike logo mark. Nike has risen to the top of the globally recognized brands of all time because of their iconic abstract mark that conveys a powerful meaning. That paired with their tagline makes for an unforgettable brand identity.
Another great example of an abstract logo is the Olympics logo. Not only is this logo recognizable to anyone who sees it but it is brimming with meaning.
The Mastercard logo is also one of the simplest forms of abstract logos. Just 2 colored circles overlapping each other. While the circles represent unity and cooperation the colors symbolize growth, energy, and motion.
Other famous brands that use abstract logos include Adidas, Microsoft, and Pepsi.
A mascot logo is a logo design that has a stylized illustration of a character acting as a sort of brand ambassador for that particular brand. This mascot would ideally be based on a human figure or an animal. Or even a humanized object in some cases. The character illustrated could be the founder of the company, a fictional character, or an animal, maybe even a fictional animal. If a brand has this kind of logo its marketing strategies would center around this mascot.
A mascot logo is a warm and friendly way to draw in consumers. Especially in the demographic of younger audiences, a mascot logo works well in inviting them in to be a part of their story.
But not every niche will benefit from this type of logo. If you’re in the food, tech, toy, or health industry, for example, you would benefit tremendously from the use of a mascot logo. This is because you can easily create a mascot that incorporates elements of your product. But there are those industries that should completely avoid using this type of logo design. Like, the fashion and beauty industry.
In today’s more sensitive social climate, a mascot in these industries could offend or even alienate groups of people by not being inclusive enough. So it’s best to avoid such controversy and simply focus on other aspects of your brand in your logo. You don’t want to draw “that” kind of attention when you’re debuting your brand.
The Michelin Man is one of the very first mascot logos to successfully steer its brand in the right direction. A rubber tire industry sounds quite boring on the surface, but with this mascot and its inclusion in their logo anyone would attest to having found it pleasing and endearing; a contradictory feeling when one thinks about a tire brand.
Another such brand that has made its presence known owing to its juicy chicken and unique mascot illustration is KFC. Colonel Sanders, the beloved founder of KFC is the illustrated mascot of the KFC logo. There’s a story behind the logo that invites people even to this day to go enjoy their food, all controversy aside.
Other brands’ mascots like Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, and Toucan Sam resonate well with younger audiences. They are also known to evoke nostalgia in older audiences as well causing them to keep going back to these brands.
We’ve already spoken about logos that incorporate letters, words, and mascots. The combination mark logo uses a mixture of all of these. A combination mark logo will use either an image, an icon, a piece of abstract art, or an illustrated mascot along with some text integrated in a suitable way. This is a much more commonly used logotype. In fact, its success is proven by the statistics shown in the Fortune 500 list for 2023. Of these 500 companies, over 60% use combination mark logos.
The combination mark logo allows for a lot of creativity. So a lot of thought should go into condensing a brand down into a combination mark logo. And once you get it right, its versatility allows you to use it in many ways across different media formats.
As mentioned above this is a very common type of logo that companies incorporate into their branding strategies. And for good reason. A combination mark logo helps launch a brand identity more cohesively. The inclusion of the brand name and a visual representation helps people remember a new brand more easily. As long as it is designed well, of course. And that’s where the role of designers is paramount. They play a crucial role in combining typography and visuals in compelling ways.
Lacoste is one of the examples that immediately come to mind. They have made adjustments to the famous crocodile mascot and the font used through the years. However, the beloved logo has still maintained its original look and continues to be one of the more luxury brands that use this type of logo design.
Other well-known examples include Taco Bell, Dove, and Dropbox.
Emblem logos use letters and icons that are laid out on a specific kind of shape. It resembles a badge and also reminds us of crests. Most emblems look traditional in their appearance and are often used by educational or health institutions.
An emblem logo is not your typical logotype and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It won’t work for some brands. Your industry and how you want to use it are important factors you need to consider when thinking about creating an emblem logo.
An emblem logo won’t work well across some media forms and therefore must be used with caution. You would have to be creative to come up with a modern emblem design that’s a good fit for this century.
One good thing about these logos, in the right context, is the possibility of including a slogan that can help communicate your brand message. Food and beverage industries could potentially benefit from an emblem logo depending on the design that you come up with. But remember to keep it simple. Too much detail and your emblem logo design could flop.
Emblem logos can also do wonders for vintage brands.
One of the most popular examples of emblem logos that is suitable for this time and age would be the Starbucks emblem. It works well on any media form and looks great on print, like on their coffee cup for instance.
Other logos include the Warner Bros logo, the Harley Davidson logo, and the NFL logo to name a few. These brands, despite their various industries, have come up with well-crafted emblem logos that have stood the test of time and continue to be recognized by their target audiences.
If you’re thinking about launching a brand and you’re still looking for the perfect logo design, these types we’ve discussed will give you some inspiration. Analyzing each of these logos, and how they can be used, will give you a more comprehensive idea of which direction to go in. Take into account the different brands listed, which directions they’ve gone in, and how that has helped them elevate their brands. Think about your industry and the message you want to deliver to your audience. And then combine these ideas into a logo that will help build your brand. Once you come up with the type of logo design you want for your brand the rest will seem that much simpler to figure out.