5 Types of Logos and How to Identify Them
There are different types of logos all around us. Almost every object we interact with on a daily basis contains a logo of some sort. Some of these are memorable, others are forgettable. Some are just plain awful.
But what are these different types of logos?
All are used by big corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits.
This post will break down the different types of logos, and include some great examples to assist in visualising them.
A wordmark is a company name, written in a brand-specific typeface. Sounds simple, right?
Designing the perfect wordmark is as time-consuming as any other form of logo design. With a wordmark, you really need to focus on the details, such as typeface, kerning, and weight.
However, to help you along there are typefaces out there that are ideal for this type of logo. Selecting that typeface is going to be dependent on the business you are creating a wordmark for.
One route is a simple sans-serif, such as the timeless, ubiquitous Helvetica. Perfect for tech companies, or those looking to promote an understated image.
Another route is more decorative. Using a complex, cursive typeface that gives the wordmark a feeling of energy.
Possibly one of the most memorable workmarks of the past century is Coca Cola. The sweeping lines of the workmark have been modified only slightly during that time, signalling how strong, and important, a carefully designed wordmark can be.
Looking for a type of logo that scales well, and is recognisable on screens of all sizes? Letterforms are perfect for this. They contain just the first letter of the company name so are able to shrink in size without losing any clarity.
Their usage appears to have increased in recent years, possibly driven by the growth of smartphones, where they are perfect for app icons.
However, to be able to pull off a letterform logo, your brand needs to be quite recognisable in the first place. This means either developing that recognition over many decades, such as McDonald’s, or ‘disrupting’ the market using vast funds from venture capital and making the letterform a household name, such as Pinterest.
McDonald’s is a brand that has such a high level of global recognition, it is able to use a letterform in the shape of the ‘golden arches’.
You have a brand, or name that is multiple words. Take the first letter of each word and create a logo from them. You’ve created a monogram.
Can’t think of a monogram? You’ve certainly seen them throughout life. IBM, or International Business Machines, is one that has been with us since the dawn of the computer.
Another is NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
They had a wonderful monogram that was heavily in use during the 80’s and 90’s. Referred to as ‘the worm’, it adorned the suits and spacecraft after taking over the previous, more complex type of logo, ‘the meatball’. However, ‘the worm’ was disliked by many at the top who decided to return to ‘the meatball’.
In recent years, NASA has seen sense and decided to reintroduce ‘the worm’. An excellent decision, in my opinion.
When you open up your Macbook, what do you see on the case? When you pull in for fuel or recharge your batteries at Shell, you’ll see a logo symbol at the top of the forecourt.
A logo symbol is often a graphical representation of a brand’s name, in the cases of Apple and Shell, or they can represent what the brand is about. For example, the NBA.
If you do choose this type of logo, you need to be careful about what you choose. You may sell a certain type of product now, but in the future that could change. Your logo would then contain a product that you no longer sell.
Throughout Shell’s history they have used the same object for their logo symbol, but their portfolio has changed dramatically over the years. At one point being known for the environmentally damaging oil exploration, they now wish to pivot into the much cleaner renewables sector. That change in direction has no effect on their type of logo, however.
Using a mascot type of logo can help you introduce a ‘brand ambassador’. Think of the Michelin man. This figure used to stand on the forecourts of garages around the world. These figures would help people connect with the brand, creating a friendly face of the company.
The mascot is ideal for brands that are going to be associated with children's toys, or products, as they are much more likely to become attached to the character.
When creating this type of logo, be aware that you will need to spend time developing high levels of details to bring your mascot to life, and to make it engaging.
When it comes to you selecting the type of logo to choose, well, that is completely up to you. As you can see, the choice you make can depend on the type of product or service you are offering. The same choice applies when designing a logo for a client.
There are some great logo maker tools out there which can give you a helping hand, or a bit of inspiration. Or pick up some books on the subject and look at the visual history of some of the big brands.
With this information there to guide you, you’ll be sure to make the right choice when selecting the perfect type of logo.
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