The 7 Different Types of Logos and When to Use Them

Notebook with sketches of a website layout

A logo is a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc. You see logos everywhere these days – from your phone screen, the TV, to your everyday excursions. You may not even give these a second thought, but you can instantly recognize the logos of your favorite companies, even with a split-second glance. There are seven different types of logos, and the design of your logo is a crucial aspect of your brand identity. People are constantly exposed to your logo after all. Here are the seven different types of logos and when you should use them.

 Emblems

An emblem logo features a word, a symbol, or a sign inside of a geometric shape. You most often see this style of logo representing schools and universities. Emblem logos are often referred to as “seals” or “crests.” If you are thinking of using an emblem logo but are looking to stray from the traditional style and add a little creativity, you could consider designing your logo similar to the way Harley Davidson or Starbucks designed theirs.

When to use an emblem logo

Emblem logos are ideal when you want to portray longevity and tradition. If you are looking to design a logo that will need to be scaled, an emblem is most likely not the right choice for you. Words can be difficult to read when they are in images as small as the size of a favicon. A favicon is a small iconic image that represents your website, found in the address bar of your web browser. Similarly, if you plan to embroider your logo on clothing items such as hats, you may want to opt for a simpler design or it won’t be possible. When it comes to emblems, sticking with a more simple design will make it easier to ensure your logo will print well across all of your marketing materials. 

Google logo
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2f/Google_2015_logo.svg/800px-Google_2015_logo.svg.png

 Logotype (also known as a wordmark)

A logotype, or watermark logo, consists entirely of the word, or words, of the company name. This type of logo creates a strong tie between the brand’s visual identity and the name of the company. You will not see any symbols or graphic patterns in a logotype. Typography plays a key role in the design of your logotype as that will be what the focus is on.

When to use a logotype

A logotype logo is perfect for new businesses that are still establishing their presence, though best for when the company name is on the shorter side. If it’s too long, it will make your logo look cluttered. Logotypes are easy to replicate across marketing materials, making them an ideal choice if it suits your branding needs. One thing to note about typography-based logos is that fonts follow trends. Take care not to choose a font that will most likely go out of style in a few years. Opt for one that is timeless and will not need to be updated often.

HBO logo
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HBO_logo.svg

 Lettermark (also known as a monogram)

A lettermark logo is similar to a logotype in that they are typography-based and consist of letters, but a lettermark typically consists of only the initials as opposed to a logotype which consists of a company’s full name. Lettermark logos are often used by television channels. Think HBO, CW, ET, etc. A lettermark is all about simplicity and is effective when it comes to streamlining any company brand if the name is too long.

When to use a lettermark logo

Similar to a logotype, lettermark logos are very easy to replicate across marketing materials due to how simple they are. If you have a long company name, it can be hard to fit that on smaller items such as business cards or on other items such as clothing. A cluttered logo is never a good look for your branding.

 Symbols (also known as pictorial marks)

A symbol, or pictorial mark, is an icon-based logo. This type of logo is what often comes to mind when you picture a companies logo. A true brand mark is only an image, which is tough to achieve as a new company. Think of Apple or Twitter, both of those companies are instantly recognizable by their logos which happen to be symbols. Both Apple and Twitter have strong brand recognition, making it possible for them to use symbols for their logos. 

When to use a symbol logo

Symbol logos are best used when you already have an established brand, though this is not a strict rule that you need to abide by. If your name is too long, you can effectively use images to convey what your business does. They can also be used to evoke a desired emotion from your audience.

Nike logo
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a6/Logo_NIKE.svg/800px-Logo_NIKE.svg.png

 Abstract logo 

An abstract logo is similar to a symbol logo in that it is image-based, but it is not a literal representation of the brand, it’s abstract. Abstract logos are unique and usually end up being pretty memorable, which is something you want to achieve for your brand awareness. Opting for this design style will guarantee no other company will have a similar logo. 

When to use an abstract logo

If you’re looking to use an image-based logo but no image seems to fit your brand right, consider an abstract logo. Image-based logos work well as they condense your brand into a single image, however, abstract logos do not restrict you to a picture of something instantly recognizable. They allow you creative liberties to design something unique to your brand.

Mascot

A mascot logo is seemingly similar to symbol and abstract logos because they are all image-based. But a mascot logo is not just any image, it specifically depicts a person (or animal.) Mascot logos offer a bit of flexibility as they can be designed in a variety of ways, such as doing different things, expressing different emotions, or in different styles. 

When to use a mascot logo

Mascot logos are perfect for companies that are targeting families or children as they are fun and give off positive and upbeat vibes. A mascot logo can also change with your company as it continues to grow and evolve. As mascots tend to be cute and friendly, you will want to avoid this logotype if your company is on the serious side.

Combination marks

A combination mark is a logo that is made up of different types of logos, a combination of logos if you will. These logos can consist of both text and images if you so desire. There are no set rules when it comes to logo design. If you want to combine multiple types, you can. If you want to stick with a single type, you can.

When to use a combination mark

Combination mark logos are perfect for when you don’t want to choose just one type of logo. A logo with multiple elements can easily adapt to your company as you grow. You can even choose to modify and potentially remove elements as time goes on. Just make sure if you opt for a combination mark logo, you do not overdo it and end up with a cluttered logo.

All these logotypes may be overwhelming if you are looking to design your company’s first logo. But remember that in the end, you are not stuck with what you choose forever. Of course, you want to design the best logo that you can for your brand, but many successful brands have gone through significant branding redesigns and come out with completely different logos from when they started. Don’t let your imagination limit you.

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