Logo design is one of the most important facets of a company. The type of logo design that you choose instantly becomes the face of your business. It is your calling card. It represents your products, services, and showcases your brand’s identity.
There are five types of logo design used by logo creators and logo designers. How do you decide the best fit for your niche/industry? What should you use?
Table of Contents
- First Develop Your Brand Strategy
- Logo Design Best Practices
- Wordmark Logo Design
- Emblem Logo Design
- Letterform Logo Design
- Abstract Logo Design
- Pictorial Mark Logo Design
- Choose Your Logo Design Type
Too many entrepreneurs and business owners want to dive into choosing a logo design on day one. They think that because the logo design element is such an important piece of their business, they must make a decision immediately. Not true.
Before you choose a logo design, you need to first develop your brand strategy. In order to create a logo design that works for you, you need to consider what you want to say with your logo. It’s true — when you hire a logo designer, we will always bring ideas to the table that can shape your design — but we also can’t do our job effectively without understanding what it is you want to say and what your brand stands for: who are you?
After you develop your brand strategy it’s time to come back to the logo. Where do you start? Throughout this article, you’ll read about five types of logo design. After a brief introduction, you can start to consider which option might work best for your business. Regardless of the logo design type chosen, here are a few of the all-encompassing, best logo design practices to consider.
- Define your business – Your designer should have a process (that they will either explore independently or with you) to discover what makes the most sense for your business based on your unique selling proposition. What separates you from the competition?
- Set realistic expectations – It’s always important to find a designer who isn’t afraid to tell you that an idea won’t work and isn’t afraid to guide you towards the options that will. Try not to get stuck on a specific idea until you consider all possibilities. Branding packages that come with multiple initial concepts are a great way to explore a variety of options out the gates.
- Focus on functionality – Your logo design needs to be functional above all else. Where do you plan on featuring your logo the most? On your website? In print materials? On billboards? Your logo should work well on a variety of media and be flexible enough to thrive in all those instances.
A wordmark logo design is a design that revolves around — you guessed it — words. There may be one word or a few words, but the design is entirely made up of letters. Many times these designs take a company’s name and use color (as well as unique typefaces – often custom created) to create a logo.
These designs are great for businesses who want to avoid trying to make an image or a symbol “stick.” These designs are also easy to add to other materials because it’s simply the addition of a word. The outline of the word is defined (and rectangular) which is a lot easier to use when compared to the various sizes and shapes of other types of logo design.
The wordmark logo design also works well for businesses who worry about name recognition. Some brands, particularly smaller brands, may have a hard time getting customers to remember their symbol and recognize it. By using the actual full business name as the logo design, businesses make it easy for customers to recognize the business. No guessing games here.
An example of a wordmark logo design would be “Google” or “The New York Times.” The only problem that some brands run into with a wordmark logo design is sometimes they can look and feel a bit generic. Brands want to make sure that their logo doesn’t look like something that was made by a 5th-grade student learning Microsoft Office or Photoshop. So if you do go this route, try to avoid an outdated Clip Art look by having your wordmark logo design created by a professional designer.
To ensure a wordmark logo design stands out from the crowd (and provides real value for your brand), you will want your designer to select a custom typeface that elevates the word or words into a true logo design. You will also want to consider leveraging an expert play of color that gives the design a look that best represents your brand.
An emblem logo design is often similar to a patch design. The emblem involves several elements but they are almost always unified. You will rarely see them separated.
An example of an emblem logo design is Starbucks. With the Starbucks logo design, there is the presence of the siren and the word “Starbucks” rounding out the design. The image & text go hand in hand on products, storefronts, etc.
The problem with these designs is that sometimes they can be hard to read on phones and tablets. As the design becomes smaller on certain devices, the graphics tend to overwhelm the text and readability will suffer as a result. Starbucks, for example, has recently introduced a pictorial design into their branding arsenal featuring just the siren. Both versions still exist, but Starbucks actively sought the pictorial mark logo version because they knew that the miniaturized look of their emblem on screens would be illegible at times.
When do emblem logo designs make the most sense? These designs make the most sense when they are used as a “patch.” Will your logo be worn on clothes or backpacks? Used as a fashion element or used to represent a club? Apparel is a great fit for an emblem, as is the food industry just to name a few (think craft beer). Not only do you have a bit more real estate to work with, but you also have the luxury of being creative on websites with larger headers and more elaborate designs.
A letterform logo design involves shortening your business name to focus on a single letter or initials. These letters are the only elements used in creating the logo design. Sometimes these letters will incorporate symbolism to add depth to the logo.
An example of this would be the McDonald’s logo. The golden “M” is all that is used to represent the company. For added depth, the golden arches (that used to be a part of the McDonald’s store) has now been incorporated into the logo.
Another example of a letterform logo design would be NASA. The company has several logo options, but one is a red letterform logo that only includes the words NASA. This was the original vintage logo. The letters were curved to look like a worm, but the logo is not the full name of the agency. The full agency name is The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Letterform logo designs are best used when the full name of the company is confusing or laborious. Letterform logo designs can more easily fit in a lot of different spaces. They also hold up well when miniaturized, and remain legible. The biggest problem that brands have regarding letterform logo design is that in order to spark recognition, consumers need to see the logo multiple times. The logo needs to be designed in a simple and highly impressionable manner.
An abstract mark logo design uses a visual image to convey a feeling, thought, attribute, or idea. The mark itself is conceptual and doesn’t have direct pictorial representation.
An example of this would be the Pepsi logo. The Pepsi globe has a blue, red, and white color scheme but it does not represent anything. It is an abstract mark that has come to represent the Pepsi brand. The abstract mark has become recognizable because of how often the logo has been seen by Pepsi consumers.
These are one of the most challenging logo design options to succeed with because they require great creativity and an understanding of the brand. They typically work well for brands that operate in the technology sector or the service sector (think of Uber, which also has an abstract mark logo design).
A pictorial mark logo design is an image that can be immediately recognized by consumers. It stands by itself and it is typically simple in design. Pictorial logo designs are one of the more popular options because they are more recognizable, unlike abstract logo designs.
The key to a pictorial mark logo design is that the picture, image, or graphic has to look like something that currently exists and is already recognizable. For example, if a rose graphic was used for a flower shop, most consumers would know that the rose was a rose. If three red circles were used, consumers would not immediately think of roses. The pictorial mark logo design allows consumers to understand what the brand stands for as soon as they see the image.
An example of this would be the MLB. The Major League Baseball Association has a rectangular logo that showcases a man wearing a baseball hat and holding a bat. This image is not accompanied by letters or text. However, sometimes you may see the image with letters or initials above or below it, which would turn it into an emblem logo design. The core logo design is simply the pictorial image. This image also uses the two Major League Baseball colors, which are red and blue.
With pictorial logo designs, you want to make sure that the design is specific to your brand and your brand identity, yet universal in the sense that it could resonate with a variety of potential consumers. For example, the Major League Baseball logo does not show facial features and was chosen in part because of its ambiguity. The player could be of any ethnic background, height, or weight. There is nothing about the image that forces players or viewers to identify with someone they are not. Instead, they can project themselves into the image. This is a great way to create a relatable and identifiable logo design.
Pictorial logo design is an option that can work well for small businesses as well as large corporations. It is particularly helpful for start-ups who need to create quick brand recognition when launching their app, product, or service. Start-ups often do not have the time to build brand recognition and can use pictorial logo design to their advantage.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, your preference for your logo design type should be something that is always shared with your designer. Then, your designer can take that preference into consideration while also providing you with several options that could also work.
When outsourcing to a professional company, it’s important that your designer has a voice when the logo design type is selected. Ask for their input and ask for their feedback based on your existing ideas and thoughts.
Whether you have a strong idea for your logo design, have a couple of different possibilities, or feel like a blank slate with all options open — designers should always be open armed. We would love to help you hone in on your vision or develop ideas for your business logo design. Your logo is the face of your business. Let’s make it something truly memorable.