When a client who is starting a new business venture contacts me for help with a logo and branding, one of the first things I ask is if they have an idea what logo style they’re looking for. Some clients reply with a pretty clear idea of what they envision, others haven’t given it any thought yet. If the latter is the case, I start by walking them through some of the most popular types of logo designs.
Think of your branding (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) as the personality of your business and your logo as the “face” of your business. The logo is the first thing potential customers will see and it sets the tone for any interactions your customer may have with your company. It’s important to select a logo style that accurately represents your goods or services and demonstrates a feeling of professionalism, reliability, and trust. These are a few of the foundational elements that potential clients are going to want to see before doing business with you. Depending on the type of business you have, you may want to portray other qualities as well, like “fun”, or “funky”, or “fresh”. These qualities will be the ones that clarify how you serve your customers or what sets you apart from your competition.
So how do you choose the best logo style for your brand? Here’s some basic info about four of the most popular types of logos and when to use them.
A font-based logo that includes the business name is called a wordmark (or logotype). There are plenty of well-known companies who’s brand can easily be recognized by a signature font, even by children who can’t read yet. Disney is a great example, Coca-Cola is another.
When to use it: A wordmark logo style works best for brands that have short, succinct, and/or memorable names. If your brand is not well established yet, or if your company name doesn’t clarify your products or services, your designer may suggest adding some elements like a tagline and/or brand colors to help develop brand recognition.
How to use it: A professional graphic designer can help you find the right font to make your brand stand out. You can also count on an expert designer to ensure that the letter spacing and alignment is just right and to help incorporate your brand color(s) in a way that will work well for all types of marketing and media. Your designer will also make sure you have the correct licensing for the font you chose to represent your brand. Many online fonts have copyright restrictions.
Similar to a wordmark, a lettermark is also a font-based representation of a company, but the logo is usually simplified to include a monogram that represents the company name. A great example of this is BNI––short for Business Networkers International––a business networking organization I belong to that has chapters around the globe.
When to use it: When a business or organization’s name is more than two words long, it’s often better to brand it as a monogram or acronym, so that it can more easily be remembered. Again, these logos work best for established brands, but there are ways you can incorporate this tyle if you have a new brand. Your designer can make some suggestions.
How to use it: Like a wordmark, you’ll want to use a font that really stands out and defines the brand. If you are branding a new business, your designer might suggest that you include the full business name and/or a tagline for clarification in conjunction with your lettermark––at least until your brand is recognizable in your community or industry. Again, your designer will need to make sure you have proper licensing for any fonts you decide to use.
3. Pictorial Mark
Logos that can be identified by an icon, symbol, or glyph are pictorial marks (or brand marks). These are simple vector graphic elements that represent either the literal name of the business (Target) or the figurative product or service the company provides (DropBox). We’re seeing more and more of these clean and streamlined logos in today’s high-tech world, especially with SaaS companies that need to have a logo that will translate easily into an app icon or website favicon.
When to use it: Since these are iconic logos with no font or type whatsoever, pictorial logos work best for very high-profile companies with very well-established brands. A simple icon or graphic alone won’t mean much to potential customers if they don’t already know your business and the services you provide. The majority of my clients don’t fall in this category, so if they’re looking for this type of logo I always suggest they start with a combination mark.
How to use it: With the right graphic design skills and tools, a designer can do some pretty amazing things to create a stylized logo unique to your brand. The most important thing is to make sure you’re not using a clipart or stock graphic as your logo. Not only will your logo be common and possibly used by others in the same or similar industry, but you will likely be breaking copyright law as well. Most stock graphics are not to be used as logo elements.
4. Combination Mark
When you combine type with a graphic representation of the brand, as we’ve done with the Loggerhead Marina example above, you create what’s called a combination mark. A combination mark can provide the most comprehensive representation of your brand by including both the business name (or monogram) and a supporting graphic element, along with appropriate fonts and brand colors. Amazon.com is a really creative example of a very simple combination logo.
When to use it: Combination marks are great for new businesses or businesses because they make it easier to connect with your potential clients and build brand recognition. They’re also very versatile and, if designed properly, the graphic and type elements can be used independently for different situations. For example, if your brand is well established, or if you’re speaking directly to an audience that is familiar with your brand, you may opt to just use the graphic element in some instances.
How to use it: Be very careful when combining your brand elements together into one logo. It’s best to hire a professional graphic designer with experience in choosing complimentary fonts and colors and balancing and aligning the elements. If not designed properly, combination logos can become busy or sloppy, resulting in an unprofessional looking brand.
Which Logo Style is Best for Your Brand?
For more information about logos and branding trends, and if you have questions about choosing a logo style or designing a new logo for your brand, contact me for free estimate.
Let me help you bring out the best in your brand!