When you start a business you need a logo, it’s just a fact of life. If you are a designer or artist you could create your own logo, but if you are in any other field then you will have to hire a designer. Knowing some logo terminology will help you understand the designers’ proposals, making communication easier and resulting in a better outcome.
First of all, let’s review quickly; What exactly IS a logo.
A logo is a symbol or graphic with or without words that represents a brand and its core values. You see logos everywhere: every single thing that has a brand, has a logo.
There are five basic kinds of logos that can be used in different situations and for different purposes.
Kinds of Logos
Five different kinds of logos?
Yes, you read that right. There are five kinds of logos and each one has its own characteristics. Some brands use one kind, others use two and some have a version of their logo in every single format. Everything depends on where the brand will need to use the logo; websites, letterheads and websites will need one, but social media profiles might need another. By knowing the different kinds of logos you will know which ones fit your business better and will also know what your designer is talking about.
Wordmark logos only have text. Words can be turned into shapes, written in stylized fonts and altered to make lots of great designs. Wordmark logos can be simple or quite complex with stylized letters and size or color compositions. These type of logos can be created with any kind of font; it just needs to be the RIGHT font for your business. After a detailed conversation with your designer about your brand’s mission, they will know the best fonts to use for a Wordmark logo.
A Wordmark logo, by not having any icons or added elements around the words can be difficult to pull off. To have a memorable wordmark logo there has to be quite a bit of design knowledge involved. Your name written in a script font without any alterations or finishing touches is technically a wordmark but not necessarily a good one.
A few famous Wordmark logos are the ones for Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Disney.
Lettermark logos are made up of the initials of the brand name. These can also be stylized and sometimes quite conceptual. These kinds of logos work best for long or complicated brand names. A great designer can even create a 3D design of a Lettermark logo which will make yours stand out over the rest.
A Lettermark can sometimes be used as the icon in a combination mark (see below). If the lettermark is conceptual enough it will not look like a logo mimicking itself. A lettermark can also be used as a substitute for a wordmark when space is limited or the logo needs to fit inside a circle, like for Social media profiles. If a lettermark logo has been conceptualized to the point where it works like an icon, it crossed over to the realm of the brandmark. UPS is one of the greatest Lettermark logos of all time, but don’t forget HBO and NASA!
A brandmark logo is essentially a symbol that represents a brand. This as a standalone logo is really hard to pull off because the brand name is not obvious or instantly apparent. Brandmarks works great for companies that have already created a large following and their logo is a household image that can be recognized by anyone. For example the McDonald’s arches or the Pepsi circle and even more memorable the Nike swoosh.
A combination mark is the most versatile logo for all sorts of brands. It is the name of the brand and some kind of symbol, all together as a whole. The symbol can be an icon, or your brandmark. The symbol picked for the logo must be memorable enough to use on its own if your brand ever grows more to the point of instant recognition just from that symbol.
Some great examples of combination marks are Lacoste, Adidas and Adobe.
An emblem is when the logo is a symbol but there are words are inside it. It’s like a badge or stamp and can be very appealing, just not very versatile. Words are sometimes rounded or shaped to fit inside the symbol.
These kinds of logos work really well when the brand name is long and a Lettermark will not work. Emblems don’t really need any variations like wordmarks or Brandmarks because they are the full package.
Two favorite emblem logos are Starbucks and Harley Davidson Motorcycles
Now that you know the different kinds of logos, you have better knowledge to talk to your designer about what you need for your business!