What colors make the most memorable logos

The 7 types of logos (and how to use them)

A logo is an image that symbolizes your company. But did you know that there are 7 different types of logos?

While they're all a combination of typography and imagery, each logotype gives your brand a different feel. And since your logo is the first a new customer sees, it's important that you choose the right look for your brand. Do you want to know how to choose the best logo type for your company? Read on!

1. Letter marks (or monogram logos)

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Monograms or letter stamps are logos made up of letters, usually company initials. 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 decided to use their initials for better brand identification. So it makes perfect sense for them to use monograms - sometimes called letter stamps - that represent their business.

A letter mark is a typography-based logo consisting of a few letters, usually the company's initials. Since you only use a few letters, letter stamps are very effective at tightening up the company name when it consists of a long name. For example, how much easier is it to say NASA instead of the National Aeronautics Space Administration?

Since the focus is on the initials, the font you choose is especially important to ensure that the logo not only fits what your company does but is easy to read when you print it on the business cards. If you're new to an established company, it's also a good idea to write the full company name below the logo so people can know who you are.

2. Word marks (or company logotype)

Comparable to a letter mark, a word mark is a font-based logo that focuses solely on the company name. Think Visa and Coca-Cola. Word marks work really well when the company has a short and unique name. Google's logo is a very good example of this. The name itself is catchy and memorable. If it is now combined with good typography, the logo helps to create a high level of recognition.

As with letter branding, typography is particularly important here. Since the focus will be on your name, you will need to choose - or design - a font that captures the essence of what your company is doing. For example, fashion labels tend to have clear, elegant fonts that feel high quality, while law firms or government agencies tend to stick with traditional, "heavy" fonts that feel secure.

When to use letter mark logos and word marks:

  • Move in Letter stamp logo consider if your company has a long name. Shortening your company name to the initials will help simplify your design and will make it easier for customers to remember your company and logo.
  • A Word mark is a good choice if you are a new company and just need to get known. Just make sure your name is short enough to take advantage of the design. Anything that is too long can quickly look cluttered.
  • A Word mark is a good idea if you have a unique company name that customers will remember. Your name in a well-designed font makes your brand even more memorable.
  • Either Letter stamps as well as Word marks can be easily applied to any promotional material, making them highly versatile options for a new business.
  • Remember that you need to be extra scrupulous when you do one Letter mark or one Word mark design. Your company name in one font alone will not be conspicuous enough to capture the diversity of your company. So hire a professional who has an eye for detail.

3. Figurative marks (or logo symbols)

A figurative mark (sometimes also a brand mark or logo symbol) is a picture mark (or icon) - or a graphic-based design. It's probably what you think of when you think of “Logo”: the famous Apple logo, the Twitter bird, or the Target's target. Each of these logos is so symbolic and each of these companies so well known that you can immediately recognize them by their logo alone. A real figurative mark consists of just one image. Therefore, it can be a difficult logo type, especially for young companies that are not yet well known.

The biggest challenge with a figurative mark is choosing the right image because that image will be forever associated with your brand. You have to think about the broader meaning that this image will have: do you want to play with your name (like John Deere with their deer logo)? Or do you want a deeper meaning (like Snapchat with their mind telling us what the product does)? Or do you want to evoke an emotion (like the World Wildlife Foundation with their stylized panda - an adorable and endangered species)?

4. Abstract logos

An abstract logo is a specific form of a figurative mark. Instead of a recognizable image - like an apple or a bird - it is an abstract geometric shape that represents your company. The most famous examples include the star-shaped BP logo, the split circle of Pepsi and the striped Y of the Adidas flower. Like all logo symbols, abstract logos work very well as they summarize your brand in a single image. However, with them you are not limited to a recognizable image, but have the opportunity to create something really unique that represents your brand.

The advantage of an abstract logo is that you have the opportunity to symbolically convey what your company does without having to rely on the cultural meanings of certain images. Color and shape allow you to attach importance to your brand and develop emotions. (For example, think of the Nike tick, which implies movement and freedom).

5. Mascot

Mascot logos are logos based on an illustrated character. 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 company. Think of them as ambassadors for your company. Some of the most famous are the Kool-Aid-Man, the Colonel of KFC and Planter's Mr. Peanut. Mascots are great for businesses that want to create a relaxing atmosphere by targeting families and children. Think all the mascots at sporting events and the great momentum they create by engaging the audience!

When to use pictures and symbols:

  • A Figurative mark alone can be difficult. It's effective when you have an established brand, but that's not a hard and fast rule. You can also use them to graphically convey what your company is doing if your name is too long and they can also be very powerful if you want to convey a desired idea or emotion.
  • Figurative and abstract Logos are also good for global trade if, for example, a company name doesn't translate well.
  • A Figurative mark however, it is not the best choice if you plan to change your business model in the future. You might start out selling pizzas and have a pizza in your logo, but what if you eventually sell sandwiches, burgers, or even make your own?
  • Abstract logos allow you to create a completely unique image for your business but are better left to professional designers who understand how to combine color, shape, and texture to create meaning.
  • A mascot is an option for you when addressing young children or families. A great advantage of mascots is that they can encourage customers to interact. Hence, they are a great tool for both social media marketing and real marketing events. I mean who doesn't want a photo with the Pillsbury Doughboy?
  • Remember 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 word-figurative mark.

6. The word / figurative mark

It's already in the name! A word / figurative mark is a logo which consists of a combined word mark or a letter mark logo and a figurative mark, an abstract logo or a mascot. Text and image can stand side by side, placed on top of one another, or combined into one another to create an image. Some well-known combinations come from Doritos, Burger King, and Lacoste.

Since the name is associated with the image, a word mark is a versatile choice where both the text and image or mascot work together to reinforce your brand. With a word-figurative mark, people will instantly associate your name with your figurative mark or your mascot! In the future, you may only be able to rely on a logo and not always have to write your name. In addition, combinations of a symbol and a text are easier to protect, since together they represent an individual image in contrast to a figurative mark alone.

7. The emblem

An emblem consists of writing within a symbol or image; think of badges, seals and coats of arms. These logos tend to have a traditional appearance, which leave a lasting impression and are therefore often the choice of schools, organizations and authorities. They are also very popular in the auto 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 due to their many details and the fact that the name and symbol are closely linked, they can be less versatile than the logotypes already mentioned. A nested emblem is not easy to apply to all branding materials. It may get so small on business cards that you can no longer read it. Even if you want to print it on hats or shirts, you have to choose a really simple design, otherwise it simply won't be possible. So it is important to make the design as uncomplicated as possible and you will get a strong, clear look that will make you look like an absolute professional.

When to use a word / figurative mark or emblem:

  • A Word and figurative mark is a great choice for almost any business. It's versatile, usually distinctive, and the most popular choice among celebrity companies. (A LOT of word-figurative marks are also created on 99designs.)
  • The traditional look of one Emblems Preferred by many government agencies and schools, it can also work well for any emerging private company, especially those in the food industry: think beer brands and coffee mugs (Starbucks!) But remember to play it safe when it comes to details. You want a design that you can print neatly on any promotional material.

That's them. The 7 types of logos that exist! Have you already decided on one? Then take a look at how to design your individual logo step by step - in our great guide to logo design.

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This article was originally written by Hilda Morones and published in 2016. It has been updated with new information and examples.