Logos can be exciting. For many new businesses, a logo is the first thing they think about – something about having an ident makes a business seem more real.
On the other hand, designing a logo can be overwhelming – for many of the same reasons that business owners often find the process so attractive. A lot rides on getting a logo right – and that means the nuts and bolts of designing one needs to be taken seriously.
Businesses should only turn to logos following quite a bit of homework: understanding a business’s values, ethos and target audience, for example, are all critical to developing a logo that sticks.
Once the identity of a business has been nailed down, our designers set to brainstorming logo ideas with the internal team, arriving at an idea of what sort of logo might work best. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the options available: which has strengths and weaknesses which need to be quite carefully matched to the goals of any given branding exercise.
Let’s deal with each in turn. You can always contact us to talk logo design in more detail, too.
The wordmark logo is, as the term suggests, the name of a business presented creatively. Typography and colour are the key means of achieving differentiation here: how the business name is written is what gives these logos their edge in the marketplace.
Google, most supermarkets and the Post Office are examples of businesses with a wordmark logo. They are especially useful to businesses with a unique, even an already well-known, name. If you have a long or less memorable company name – Smith and Jones Partnership, for example – you might want to look elsewhere.
In some ways, the lettermark is a sort of subset of the wordmark logo. In others, however, it opens up more room for creative graphic design – and in this way is a good prospect for businesses without a unique name but which also want to play with typography.
Think of the BBC, H&M or IBM: all these companies have lettermark logos. These are acronyms, of course, but other brands not generall yknown by their initials also adopt this type of logo: Yves Saint Laurent, for instance, or Procter and Gamble. These logos are not just space-saving: they simultaneously offer name reconition *and* a little more room for striking design concepts.
On the other hand, if a business doesn’t already have name recognition, or is lacking a really unique graphical identity, lettermark logos can be a little forgettable. For this reason, lettermarks are often great distillations of existing brands rather than a platform on which to launch a new one.
The limitations of the lettermark lead us to the advantages of the brandmark. These types of logo often take the form of an icon: Apple’s apple, for example, or Snapchat’s ghost. Because of the emergence of apps in recent years, this type of logo has become even more prevalent – since they offer a fun, intriguing way to denote a brand instantly, and memorably.
Brandmarks predate apps, however: McDonald’s golden M and Starbucks’ mermaid are well-known examples of the form. Even Batman has a brandmark! The great advantage of this type of logo is, when done right, it is instantly recognisable with minimal effort from the view: no reading necessary, and that’s particularly helpful for multi-national companies.
The problem, as with the lettermark, is that the brandmark logo usually requires some brand recognition first. That’s why some brandmarks are also accompanied by text (Nike often places its famous swoosh next to its business name, for instance). A combined logo of this sort can often help new businesses achieve the best of both worlds.
The emblem is a form of combined logo. Football fans will be very familiar with the form, since the shields of most clubs are emblems of a kind. These logo types often look like shields, with both a graphic and a typographical element., and therefore offer a mix of advantages.
That said, their weakness might be inferred from their appearance: they can be cluttered and confusing, and even a little staid. Universities often have an emblem logo; the older-style movie studios, like Warner Brothers, often have them, too. Emblems convey a sense of old-world solidity – and that’s great for certain kinds of business, but less so for others.
Those, then, are the 4 types of logo. Which a business chooses will depend entirely on the brand they devise – and that takes a lot of thought way before either of these types of logo are selected, much less the final draft designed.