Honestly, selecting the right logo design for your business can be intimidating. From conducting the market research, to understanding your target audience, to choosing the color palette, typeface, shapes, layout…, there’s a lot of decision process that goes into a logo design. And I know this can be a bit overwhelming.
However, your logo is going to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to building brand recognition, so it needs to represent you competently. To help you sort through the process and create a remarkable logo, we have created a list of different types of logos so you can choose the best logo form that is relevant for your business.
Table of Contents
1) Dynamic Logo
MIT Media Lab, Google, Airbnb — Dynamic logos
You could say a dynamic logo is a new-age logo, or to put it simply, it is an adaptable logo. That means dynamic logo changes according to the context it is placed in. This kind of logo allows brands to showcase their versatility and create a unique customer experience.
In contrast, to “static” or “regular” logos, dynamic logos have multiple versions and are made to be transformed. This would mean that rather than having a standard logo for your brand, you can creatively play with a few elements in the logo depending on the situation — be it on the internet or on numerous branding materials.
Advantages of dynamic logos
❖ You can have endless creative possibilities when using a dynamic logo.
❖ Additionally, it plays a significant role in promoting the company’s brand identity. Dynamic logos gives the brand exposure on varied platforms like — responsive websites or mobile sites, blogs, digital media, ads, merchandise, and much more.
❖ You can constantly innovate your dynamic logo that suits any scenario and make a cultivated impression on your target audience.
Disadvantages of dynamic logos
❖ Suppose a dynamic logo is not done well and is inconsistent with your original logo. In that case, your brand will not grow, and its associative power will eventually decline.
❖ A particular section of your audience may connect with your brand for its specific elements, like — the visual identity or the icon shape. If these are mindlessly changing without a clear purpose, then your logo may not have an instant brand recall value as a familiar static logo would.
❖ Be absolutely sure what message you want to convey with your logo before designing its variations for dynamic versions.
2) Lettermark logo (or Monograms)
A lettermark logo is all about simplicity. Think of lettermark logos as a monogram or anagram for your business. Like a wordmark, a lettermark is a typography-based logo. Still, instead of writing the full company name, it focuses on streamlining the logo to just abbreviated initials.
Advantages of lettermark logos
❖ A lettermark logo works as a complementary mark to your primary wordmark logo.
❖ If your brand has a long logo name, you can consider using a lettermark. It would be quite a mouthful to say “International Business Machines” every time instead of IBM.
❖ Since lettermarks often consist of limited characters, they are always clear and legible, even when scaled down on mobile or an app icon.
❖ If your brand name is difficult for some people to pronounce, like Louis Vuitton → LV, then using a lettermark logo makes an excellent choice.
Disadvantages of lettermark logos
❖ A lettermark logo works best for companies that have already established their position in terms of brand recognition. Furthermore, such brands also have the resources it takes to educate the consumers on what their lettermark means. For example, Procter & Gamble simply use the P&G lettermark logo as it is the largest consumer packaged goods company globally and therefore is a recognizable brand. However, the same thing cannot work if you are a new business or a startup.
❖ For new brands, they should add their full company name alongside the lettermark logo until the customers have built an association between your brand name and its logo.
3) Wordmark logo (or Logotype)
Just like a lettermark, a wordmark is a typography-based logo that solely focuses on the name of the business or brand. Think Coca Cola, Walmart, and Disney. Did you notice how all these companies represent the wordmark logotype, yet their logos look very distinctive from each other? They have managed to capture the essence of their respective brands with unique fonts.
Although wordmarks may look ridiculously simple in their construction, it takes a lot of skill and creativity to maneuver the text in a manner that expresses the quintessence of your brand and still manages to look easy but professional. Google’s logo is an excellent example of this. Their name is catchy and instantly memorable. When combined with a strong typeface and remarkable typography, the Google logo helps create a powerful brand identity.
As Michael has rightly put in his logo book, “Words carry meaning, typefaces convey character.”
Without the aid of any supporting symbols or pictorial elements, typographical choices play an important role in a wordmark logo, so make sure you choose a typeface that accurately communicates with your brand. For example, fashion labels (see Calvin Klein, Dior logo) tend to use clean and sleek fonts that feel luxurious and exclusive. However, legal and government agencies mostly incline towards traditional, “heavier” text that feels secure (see CIA, City of Prague logo).
Advantages of Wordmark logos
❖ Wordmarks, by definition, include your brand name, so if you have an interesting business name that will stick in customers’ minds, then using a wordmark logo will be a good idea.
❖ Wordmark logos work particularly well with companies that have shorter brand names. That’s partly because shorter wordmarks tend to be visually more impacted and generally imbue better legibility (think Uber, Cadbury). But it’s also because longer wordmarks can look too cluttered, and you’ll frequently struggle to apply them across various sizes and media. So if your brand name is long, you would probably be well-served by pairing your wordmark with a monogram or a symbol that can act as a shorthand for the main logo version (think HBO, BBC).
❖ If you are a small business or a startup, getting your name out there is vital to your brand’s success. Having your brand name in your logo accelerates this process. On average, it takes 5 to 7 impressions for people to recognize a business logo; use a wordmark, and it will take the same amount of time for them to remember your company name.
❖ Most importantly, a wordmark logo is classic and timeless.
Disadvantages of Wordmark logos
❖ A wordmark logo may not fit on compact locations such as mobile devices or social media profiles.
❖ In a wordmark logo, certain letters have more creative opportunities than others.
❖ Many popular typefaces have a reputation for being cliche. Using them without any changes can make your wordmark look generic and even stagnant after some time.
4) Symbol logos
In contrast to the lettermarks and wordmarks, symbol logos (sometimes referred to as icons) ditch the text altogether. However, the thing about symbols is that it can be challenging to use them as standalone recognizable marks.
Big brands like Apple, Target, and Nike have symbols that have succeeded because they have such powerful brand recognition with massive advertising budgets. Now combine it with the fact that decades of repeated exposure have made their products clearly noticeable.
Now fundamentally, there are two types of symbols –
i) Pictorial marks (Brand marks) and
ii) Abstract logo marks
i) Pictorial marks
Pictorial marks are non-abstract and are often iconic in nature. They portray an image that has been simplified, stylized, and made instantly identifiable in a unique way. Mostly, it is seen that pictorial marks are literal images. For example, a fruit (the Apple logo), a bird (the Twitter logo), or a bullseye (the Target logo).
When determining if to go with a pictorial mark, the most important thing to consider is what image you must settle upon. The pictorial mark follows the reasoning – ‘a picture says a thousand words.’ On that basis, you need to think about the broader effects of the image you choose. For example, the Shell logo is, in fact, the graphical representation of its name “shell”. Or, if you want to convey a more profound meaning, think how the Olympics logo, which features the intertwined rings representing the five continents interwoven, displays the “universality” of “Olympism”.
Advantages of Pictorial mark logo
❖ Once your company gains recognition, a well-designed pictorial logo can then attain the stature of emblems.
❖ Pictorial marks can articulate ideas more powerfully than text.
❖ Pictorial marks are memorable and easy to remember.
❖ A pictorial logo is universal in nature and does not require any explanation regardless of culture. This makes them a great fit for global companies.
Disadvantages of Pictorial mark logo
❖ A pictorial logo is not recommended for brand new companies as it takes a significant amount of time to develop a connection with a business.
❖ At times, a pictorial logo may get misinterpreted if your company has a diverse range of services or services.
ii) Abstract logo marks
Abstract logo marks are, well…simply abstract. They usually convey a distinctive visual idea in interesting geometric shapes – circles, squares, triangles, and the like.
Some famous examples of abstract logo marks are – the Airbnb logo, which is reminiscent of the ubiquitous ‘location’ icon and has further advanced into the abstract design form of an upside-down heart. Or take the Google Drive logo composed of three parallelograms forming a triangle representing the notion of data protection. Like all logo symbols, abstract logo marks perform really well as they have efficiently managed to condense your brand into a single, remarkable, and well-recognized symbol.
Advantages of Abstract logo marks
❖ With an abstract logo, there’s a greater scope of creativity even while maintaining your brand identity. For example, BP
❖ An abstract logo mark is totally unique, which makes your brand instantly recognizable. For example, Nike.
❖ Another reason to use an abstract logo is its versatility. This quality also makes it a better choice for global brands whose names might not work well across complex images. For example, Chanel
Disadvantages of Abstract logo marks
❖ Abstract marks are incredibly challenging and hard to design well. For this reason, we suggest you should get help from a professional designer or design agency.
❖ Abstract logos can have numerous interpretations. This trait can cause confusion for customers thinking about what exact service or product your company offers.
Emblems, also known as badge logos, are one of the most original and oldest forms of logo design. They combine illustrative imagery with text to form elaborate and largely traditional designs – think of crests, shields, stamps.
Since emblem logos are rich in detail, they make a very phenomenal impact. Hence generally, they are the favored choice for many schools, organizations, and government agencies. For example, Princeton University has its own emblem, which contains Latin characters VET NOV TESTAMENTUM signifying the Old and New Testament (this can be seen in the upper part of the shield). The emblem also includes a ribbon with Princeton’s motto DEI SUB NUMINE VIGET (Under God’s power she flourishes).
Advantages of Emblem logos
❖ A good emblem logo can straightaway display a distinguished, prestigious, and scholarly appearance.
❖ An emblem logo is rooted in history and therefore is classic and timeless in nature.
❖ Emblem logo conveys a sense of established authority which is often reflected with a rich legacy of the past – think police badges.
❖ Moreover, emblem logos make your customers feel like they’re a part of a greater community of like-minded people (the Emblems of football teams are an excellent example of this).
Disadvantages of Emblem logos
❖ Since emblem logos tend to have an intricate and detailed design, they may not look good when scaled down on smaller screens.
❖ Also, emblem logos don’t offer much flexibility, meaning it’s hard to refine them, or removing any other elements carries the risk of destroying the logo.
Mascot logos, in all probability, are the most friendly type of logos. A mascot logo, as the name suggests, consists of a mascot or illustrated characters that have a human form or human traits. Think of mascots as an official brand spokesperson or as the brand ambassador of your business. Some of the most famous mascot logos include the Michelin Man by Michelin, Colonel Sanders by KFC, and Snoo, the alien mascot by Reddit.
Mascot logos can work across industries, depending on how they are used and what message your brand conveys.
Due to their overall friendly and appealing nature, mascots can work well in TV commercials (think the Kool-Aid Man), large billboards or signage, in-person events or award shows, social media, and marketing campaigns. Think of all those mascots used at sporting events or food brands and the spirited atmosphere they create by joyously engaging with the audience. I mean, who wouldn’t get all huddled to take a smiley selfie with Pillsbury Doughboy 😊
Advantages of Mascot logos
❖ The beauty of mascot logos is that you can unleash your creativity and create a visual expression in whichever direction you want to take it.
❖ Being creative in nature, mascot logos take a life of their own. They create a bond with your customers that remains truly memorable.
❖ You can embody your brand’s vision and values through mascot logos in an entertaining way – think Mitsubishi’s White Bear mascot.
Disadvantages of Mascot logos
❖ As mascot logos have highly detailed illustrations, they may not work well across all of your marketing materials like business cards. Also, they are difficult to scale down in small sizes like favicons.
❖ If your brand has a serious message or corporate work culture, maybe using a mascot logo wouldn’t be ideal.
7) Combination marks
Combination marks are absolutely what you think they are – a wordmark combined with either a lettermark or a symbol.
By far, combination marks are the most popular form of logo amongst brands from all industries. The reason for this is purely practical:
Only a small number of companies can be recognized without displaying their brand name. Unless you’re a particularly established brand like Nike, McDonald’s, or Apple, there’s no way you can make your mark with just a symbol.
But on the other end, a combination mark offers a logo style that is the best of both worlds – you can get the visual appeal of an icon along with the clarity of typography. Some well-known combination mark logos are Red Bull, Dove, and Burger King.
Combination marks are extremely versatile. The great thing about this kind of logo is that they make an excellent kickoff for new companies and help drive brand recognition and brand association. Supporting the text with icons, symbols, and other forms of imagery also helps people understand and reinforce what your brand is all about. With time, you’ll even have the freedom to eliminate text or just use the icon when you reach the brand recognition goal – this is something Mastercard has done.
Advantages of Combination mark logos
❖ Combination mark logos are a brilliant option if you want to make a few changes or rebrand in the future.
❖ By way of addition, combination marks also help create a clear and cohesive visual language for your end-to-end branding.
Disadvantages of Combination mark logos
❖ Regardless of its orientation—stacked or side-by-side, a combination mark logo is supposed to be used as one piece and not separated. And because of this issue, it becomes limiting to use this kind of logo across multiple platforms.
And there you have it, folks! A complete guide of different types of logos out there.
The key to creating a solid brand identity is deciding on a basic logo style, and I’ve described some of the advantages and disadvantages of each logotype.
There are no hard and fast rules that can ascertain what logo style would work best for your business.
In the logo design process, a range of solutions are studied with an objective-based on both the purpose and functional criteria to create a design direction.
Based on this research and strategy, the designer can then establish which type of logo is best for you.
When designing a brand’s logo, it is crucial to make sure what are your brand’s core values and how you want to represent them to the world. This factor determines how your logo will then be remembered in the customers’ minds long after.
An effective logo design is not about what one likes or dislikes – it’s about what works.
What type of logo do you have? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Additionally, if you need help creating your company’s branding and visual assets, reach out to the design team here at Ellora Social. We’ll give you a logo that has the power to communicate your unique brand belief and make you stand out from the competition.