What’s in a logo?
Well — a lot!
Logos are the primary visual representation of your brand. As such, they’re the most common way that a potential customer can identify your products. But they’re more than just an identifying mark — they’re also a way to send a message.
Logos are a way to communicate the personality, goals, and traits that go along with your brand. Because of that, it’s very important that you do not make a mistake in choosing a logo style that’s unfits with the brand personality.
If you choose a style that doesn’t fit your brand, you run the risk of confusing your customers, and even making them change their mind about working with you because they’re not sure what to expect.
There are several logo design styles, with multiple adaptations of each. And each of those adaptations could be endlessly customized to fit your brand.
So what do you need to know about those styles and the message they send? And how can you identify the type of logo that fits your brand the best?
Let’s get into the seven most basic types of logos, and what they say about a brand.
Mascot logos are usually easy to identify because they use a character to personify a brand. These are most commonly seen with sports teams, but also pop up in other areas, like restaurant chains — think Wendy’s, for example, with the easily identifiable girl with red pigtails and freckles.
Mascot logos are a great way to give your customer a personal link with the brand. By using a face to identify the brand, it makes it easier for the customer to sympathize and empathize with that brand — leading to a higher level of engagement and, often, increased brand loyalty.
But mascot logos are also, by their very nature, quite informal, which is why you don’t see formal institutions, like banks and government offices, with cute mascots.
Wordmark, Lettermark, or Monogram Logos
However, if formal is the type of brand you are, then the second sort of logo might be perfect for your brand. Wordmark, lettermark, and monogram logos are exactly what they sound like: a logo that is based on typography, either for a word, a letter, or more than one letters.
Think of something like NASA, which simply uses its initials in a very stylized font.
These types of logos are frequently seen with banks and other institutions that need to project dignity and trustworthiness.
Symbolic Or Iconic Logos
A symbolic logo uses a symbol or icon as its main point. This isn’t the same as a mascot, because it isn’t just a graphic, and it usually isn’t used to create an identifying path between consumer and brand.
Symbolic logos are often easy to reproduce, and very readily identifiable. They’re used for brands that want to make sure that their logos are easy to remember.
Think of something like Airbnb, which recently redesigned its logo — resulting in a split reaction as to whether it was a good choice or not — which gives it almost a paper clip-like icon.
An abstract logo, on the other hand, uses an icon which is not easy to pinpoint as a readily identifiable shape. A famous example of this would be the Nike swoosh, or the Pepsi logo.
Abstract logos fit a wide variety of companies because, due to their very nature, they can be difficult to pin down. They can definitely give a company a sense of purpose, depending on the uniqueness of the design.
However, if they are too abstract, or if there are too many factors at play, abstract logos can simply be a distraction from the brand, and prove to be difficult to remember. Simplicity is definitely the better way to go with this type of logo.
What do BMW, Starbucks, and the NFL all have in common?
Emblematic logos. An emblem logo uses a banner, shield, or outer layer to frame the inner portion of the logo — but it isn’t exactly the same as a shape logo, which comes next on this list. Emblem logos really work to make the whole logo work together, and the different aspects are rarely separated from each other.
These logos can be adapted quite readily, but as a general rule they lend an air of trustworthiness, assurance, and stability to a logo.
Shape logos, unlike emblem logos, often separate the inner graphic from the overall shape. Think of a brand like Levi’s Jeans, which uses a red shape like an inverted, stylized crown and the brand name within in white type. You frequently see the brand name, identified by the type, without the framing shape.
These types of logos are very versatile, which helps when you need a more stripped-down version of a logo in some situations, and a more fleshed-out version in others.
These logos are just what they sound like: a combination of other types of logos. Think of something like Lacoste, for example, which uses an icon — the crocodile — along with a wordmark — the company name.
These are seen more commonly than any other type of logo, and some would argue that they aren’t a specific type of logo in and of themselves. For instance, many companies combine a graphic with the wordmark of the company name; for some of us, that’s the essence of what a logo actually is.
Combination marks, much like the shape logos mentioned above, are easy to adapt to different situations. Parts of the combination can be removed or added as needed, rendering them versatile. However, because there are more factors to the logo, it may make it more difficult to recognize or remember if parts are missing.
Which Logo Design Style Fits Your Brand The Best?
Now that you have the need-to-know information about the seven different common types of logos, and you’ve learned examples of each, it’s time to put that knowledge to use in your own brand.
Each type of logo helps to send a message. Which one sends a message that fits with your brand personality?
The answer will depend on you, of course, and your company itself. But it’s always good to remember that, regardless of what type of logo you choose, it’s possible to dress it up in a way that makes it fit. Logos are endlessly adaptable, which is part of what makes choosing one so fun.
Just make sure that you choose a logo design that follows through on your brand’s message, as well as ensuring memorability and uniqueness.
Alice Scott is a passionate writer and blogger who specializes in topics related to digital branding, blogging, and online business. She loves having Churros with her cat Chubby and morning walks.