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Your logo is the first thing your audience will see. To your clients and suppliers, your logo is a huge part of who you are. Your logo is the foundation of your branding, your collaterals, and all your future ad campaigns. With it, you want to express your identity, your vibe, and your values.
A good logo makes your brand easy to remember and easy to trust. But there are several kinds, each useful in its own way. In this article, we’ll go into eight different logos and hopefully help you decide which one is best for your brand.
1. Pictorial Marks
Pictorial marks, or brand marks, depict real-world items. Twitter’s bird and Apple’s bitten apple are prime examples.
Pictorial marks are best for tech-related companies or mobile apps. Their simplicity means they’re easy to scale down and still be identifiable, which is good news for app icons. Their correlation to real-world items also means that, in a barrage of information, your user will easily be able to associate a familiar object with your product or service.
Cons: These are not exactly ideal for new or expanding businesses. They can be boring and easy to forget. And should you expand to include different products or services (for example, a lemon logo for a lemonade stand, but you’re now selling apple juice too), your pictorial mark may become irrelevant or confusing.
2. Abstract Marks
Abstract marks more conceptual than pictorial marks in that they don’t represent real-world objects. They consist of artwork specially made to represent your brand.
Abstract marks are best for all kinds of companies. Geometric shapes and lines can be made to convey anything under the sun. You can express obvious meanings by including references to real objects (like a tooth for a dental clinic). You can imply brand values (like outward rays for brightness and cleanliness). And finally, you can even add “hidden” meanings (like having the said rays conform to the shape of the letter of your first name).
Cons: Abstract marks are pretty hard to create, and they’re quite easy to get wrong. Too symbolic, and there will be a disconnect between the logo and the brand. Too complicated, and it may look unintelligible when scaled down.
Mascots are used to increase engagement by personifying a brand and/or its values. Your mascot doubles as your brand ambassador.
Mascots work great for fast food, sports, or consumer goods. Food businesses use mascots to create instant visual rapport with consumers, like Colonel Sanders or the Pillsbury Doughboy. Sports teams, with a focus on unity and camaraderie, love using animal mascots to communicate certain values, like courage or ferocity. Mascots can also be used for tech companies, like MailChimp or Mozilla Firefox. Your friendly monkey or fox conveys relatability and usability.
Cons: A mascot doesn’t always work. For example, adult-only products or high-end, exclusive brands may call for more abstract imagery.
4. Initials or Letterforms
Initials, or letterforms, are simply one-letter logos. They’re best for web-related brands or companies with a LOT of collaterals. That’s because a single letter is easily scalable: you can make it as large and as small as you like. Think favicons, app icons, watermarks, and more.
Cons: Initial-type logos are quite demanding to design. How do you make a single letter unique, memorable, and communicative? Millions and millions of companies operate in the English-speaking world, and there are only 26 letters to customize.
5. Monograms or Lettermarks
Monograms, or lettermarks, normally consist of acronyms. The result is a simple, more-or-less 2 to 5-letter stylization.
Monograms are best for new businesses. In a world of too much information, we’ve grown attached to acronyms. A monogram can take a longer business name and convert it into something more bite-sized. Plus, you have room to assert your visual identity: an acronym is more flexible than a single symbol or initial, and it isn’t so long that legibility is too much of an issue.
Cons: Like initials, monograms are quite minimal in composition; you can end up with something so simple, it’s boring. It takes a lot of attention to detail in order to create a successful monogram.
Wordmarks are simply your company’s name in a certain typeface. This may sound boring, but hold up: 37% of the world’s top brands have text-only logos. It looks like consumers are rather accepting of text-only logos.
Wordmarks are best for catchy company names. If you have a unique company name, a wordmark will help consumers remember you.
Cons: If you’re a new company, or if your company name doesn’t reveal your product or service, a wordmark may not help you gain recognition. For example, a wordmark can work for your new company “Betty’s Barbells,” but not for just “Betty’s.”
7. Combination Marks
A combination mark is a combination of a wordmark and a pictorial or abstract mark. So, a logo graphic combined with text. It can also be called a signature when a symbol is placed with a wordmark and even a tagline.
Combination marks are best for all kinds of companies, especially new ones. They’re versatile: once you gain recognition, elements of your logo can begin to stand alone. In the above example, Mastercard can now use the two circles alone and be recognized. Similarly, Hermés can get away with using only the word “HERMÉS” in its branding.
Like combination marks, this logo consists of both text and a symbol. But unlike combination marks, the elements of an emblem can’t be isolated — the words are inseparable from the abstract or pictorial element.
Emblems work best for vintage or sports-related brands. They look great as embroidered patches, and they have a classic, time-honored, trustworthy vibe.
Cons: They can be hard to read when very small, which is a disadvantage if you need to use smaller icons.
Here’s a bonus tip: You don’t have to go with one strict logo. You can have a few different logo lockups which allow your logo to be used in different specific formats. For example, your official logo can be a combination mark with a symbol, a wordmark, and a tagline. A new lockup can show these elements in a different orientation (say, horizontal or vertical). You can also allow the use of isolated elements for different collaterals: for example, your symbol only (like Nike’s checkmark).
What kind of logo do you think works best for you?