When choosing a visible symbol to represent your brand, it’s important to know your options. There are seven different types of logos:
- Pictorial Mark
- Mascot Logo
- Emblem Logo
- Abstract Mark
- Combination Mark
Each of these branded images can be perfected with the right typography, images, colors and shapes to best represent your brand. As you’ll see below, some of your favorite brands use these logo styles to represent their companies. Continue reading so you can determine which style will work best for your brand.
1. Pictorial Mark
Many brands like to use illustrated elements to represent their brand. When that symbol becomes an icon, you have a pictorial mark that can represent your brand without other words. Think about the icons for Twitter, Target, Apple, Shell, Dominos or the Olympics. Each of those brands use a small picture to spark immediate recognition for their brand.
In some cases—like with Dominos or Target—the pictorial mark directly represents the company name. Other times, the meaning is more obscure—like with the Olympics or BP.
You cannot use a photograph for your pictorial mark since your logo needs to be vector based and photographs are raster based. A raster-based image will pixelate, while a vector-based illustration can stretch easily to the side of a billboard or shrink down to an app icon size for your device.
If you pay attention to the trends set by these iconic images, you will notice they are all extremely simple shapes. These pictorial marks are very easy to reproduce and are easily scaled down to a tiny size without losing their impact. They’ve taken all of the important brand elements and narrowed them down to the most elemental shape possible, paired with a meaningful color palette.
2. Wordmark (or Logotype)
Wordmarks use typography alone to convey the essence of the brand. Some of the most popular brands relying on a wordmark logo include Coca-Cola, Google, Disney and eBay. Some companies will use highly decorative and specialized fonts (like Disney). In contrast, others will use more common fonts and rely heavily on spacing or color (like Google).
This logo style is great for brands with a succinct name and want to include that name on everything they produce. It may be the right logo choice for brands who want to get their name out there, since you can always add an illustrated element or change it to a lettermark down the road.
A wordmark logo requires more than just typing out your brand name in your favorite font. The logo should be unique enough to stand on its own when produced in black and white. Consider tweaking the letter spacing or using an uncommon font you’ve bought from a professional font site, so no one else can easily copy your logo.
It’s important to understand typography if you use it as the basis for your logo design. While heavier texts may seem secure or highly confident, elegant script fonts can make your brand look high end. Handwritten fonts can help your company look more down to earth and artsy. Simple, sans serif fonts may make your business seem more modern and cutting edge.
3. Lettermark (or Monogram Logo)
A lettermark, also known as a monogram logo, is one of the most popular types of logos. This kind of logo stands on the power of the perfect font, color and letter spacing to make a statement.
If your brand uses initials, the lettermark logo may be right for you. A lettermark only uses initials instead of a long wordmark with the entire brand name. Think about the logos for Louis Vuitton, IBM, H&M, NASA and HBO. While some brands are only known by their initials, others choose to use their initials for a punchier logo design.
With the lettermark, you may have letters that are slightly abstract, like Adobe or NASA. You might have letters that are more decorative, like History or CNN. Or, you could use very simple fonts to achieve the look you are going for, like with HBO. The goal of this logo style is to reduce the elements used and create a more minimalistic logo style.
Some brands include their entire company name below their lettermark for most uses—like Dolce & Gabbana or Gucci. Including your full company name is a good idea if you are a newer company and want to establish your name.
The fonts chosen for this type of logo will have to match the energy level, characteristics and work of your brand. It must also fit well with the fonts used throughout your website, marketing materials and business cards.
4. Emblem Logo
For logos that are wrapped up succinctly like a badge, the term “emblem logo” is used. Starbucks is a combination emblem logo that uses type and illustration to create a powerful mark. Many top universities and governmental agencies use a crest or seal to represent their organization. The auto industry also uses a lot of badge-style logos because they make ideal hood ornaments.
The emblem often is used to display class and organization. Some emblems have been more modernized to make them look less stuffy and exclusive. Harley Davidson and Starbucks are examples of emblems that are modern designs.
The downside to the emblem logo is the tendency to get too detailed. If you allow too many details to slip into the logo, it can be difficult to reproduce at a small size. This is one reason Starbucks has recently dropped the logotype from the outer ring of their emblem, leaving only the mermaid icon.
5. Abstract Mark
If your shape isn’t directly representing something recognizable, then it may be an abstract shape. Pepsi is a great example of a brand using an abstract illustration for its brand icon. Colors (red, blue and white) are a major part of the design. The form (wavy lines) helps convey a certain feeling behind the brand. The Pepsi mark makes the company look youthful, bold and quick to adapt.
Google Drive, Chase, Nike and Fitbit are other examples of abstract marks that showcase just how simple a mark can be when representing your brand. Abstract marks can create interest since your audience may spend time wondering why it was used to represent your brand.
The abstract mark is a symbol of your brand, so not everything will be a good fit. You may have to spend a lot of time finding the right shapes, design layout, line weight and colors to convey the essence behind your brand.
6. Mascot Logo
The mascot logo doesn’t work for every brand type. However, if your brand uses a mascot, this might be the right move for you. It’s important to note: not all companies with mascots incorporate them into the logo.
KFC and Wendy’s are some of the most well-known brands to use their mascot in their logo. Planters is another brand that typically shows its logo. Pringles also relies heavily on the mustached face over the logotype.
The mascot logo can add an element of fun to a brand and keep it from being stuffy. However, you can use a more serious mascot icon to give your brand a more regal feel. Burberry and Polo Ralph Lauren both use horse and rider mascot logos to represent their high-end brands. Lacoste is another company well known for its crocodile mascot representing company founder and tennis player René Lacoste.
7. Combination Mark
Many brands will combine two or more logo elements to create a combination mark. When you incorporate logotype with illustration or add your illustration to a badge, you are using a combination design.
For example, ABC uses a very simple lettermark within a circle to represent their TV station. Burger King uses the logotype right in the center of their abstract burger (replacing the patties), encircling the shape to create an abstract emblem of sorts. Doritos uses an abstract flaming chip intertwined in the logotype.
The option for a combination logo means you don’t have to choose just one logo style. However, it is important to carefully limit your design elements to the most meaningful for the greatest impact. The combination mark logo is extremely versatile and works well for nearly any company. You are most likely to end up with a unique logo when you combine more than one design element for a combination mark.
Make Your Mark
Now that you know the seven types of logos, you can choose the right fit to best represent your brand. Use a skilled designer or automated logo maker to create the right mark for your business.