You want to commission a logo design for your brand or company? Before you start, it’s worth considering what type of logo is best for your business. I’ll present you the most common types.
Wordmarks, also called logotypes, are logos that are typography-based and work best with short company names. To achieve this, either an existing font can be used and modified or a new font can be designed, which is called handlettering. This involves drawing or painting letters – whether with pencil, felt-tip pen or brush pen. Depending on the brand values, the lettering can be minimalist, playful, elegant, dynamic, etc.
Additionally, a wordmark can increase its recognisability when combined with a background shape – the famous Levi’s “batwing” logo is unmistakable!
Other examples of wordmarks are arte, google or Uber. For the sustainability programme of the writing tools manufacturer Stabilo, I developed a hand-drawn logo on behalf of the design agency factor product, which can be seen here.
Brandmark or Combination Mark
The most famous example of a brandmark, also called pictorial mark, is probably Apple. The minimalist logo with the bitten apple consists only of a symbol. But what seems so simple today was built up over decades. In the beginning, Apple used its symbol together with a wordmark, which was later omitted when the level of recognition had increased – just like Starbucks, Audi and Nike.
Although there are many rumours about why an apple serves as a symbol for one of the world’s most popular companies, the most important question when designing a logo symbol is probably: Which is the right symbol for my brand? Depending on business and industry, either a pictorial or abstract symbol can be an appropriate choice.
When deciding on a combination mark, the symbol can either be integrated within the wordmark or designed separately from it. After a couple of years and with a higher level of recognition, it is possible to drop the wordmark. Until then, however, it is recommended to always combine the symbol with a wordmark, which does not mean that it cannot be used flexibly.
Here you can read more about how I developed the logo symbol for the zero waste shop “Ganz Ohne”.
A lettermark, also called monogram, usually combines up to four individual letters. These can be the initials of a name or an abbreviation if the company name is particularly long or difficult to pronounce. Thankfully, the International Business Machines Corporation decided in the 1950s to call itself IBM. Coco Chanel may not have a long name, but her intertwined CC monogram has been used successfully for almost a century now.
A monogram can also consist of a single letter, which is very suitable for small applications, e.g. a social media profile picture, due to its compact format.
The typeface selection or the design of the letters is particularly important when it comes to a monogram. While one will opt for simplicity for a tech company, an elegant typeface may be more appropriate for a wedding invitation.
Emblems are usually an inseparable combination of business name and graphic element and designed in the compact form of a seal, coat of arms or badge. In the early times of mankind, an emblem indicated the affiliation to an institution or family, therefore it can strengthen a feeling of tradition, quality and longevity. This is why emblems are often used by universities or breweries. The coat of arms of the car manufacturer Porsche was created in 1952 and has kept its German roots in it ever since. In addition, Porsche uses a word mark that is detached from the shield.
Even though heraldic emblems used to be decorated in great detail with animals, crowns, decorative elements and flags – in the 21st century, one should always keep the applications in mind. Does the logo also work on the mobile website and for the social media profile? Scalability is probably the biggest issue when designing an emblem.
The mascot logo focuses on an illustrated figure as the brand ambassador. This can be one person (or more) who founded the company, as with Fritz Kola or KFC, or a freely invented character, as with Michelin, or also an animal. Mascots are often used for sports team logos or for brands that want to appear particularly likeable and approachable.
Flexible mascots, which are not only intended as a fixed component of the logo, but also appear in a modified or animated form, offer a varied design. A great example of this is the so-called Wazer, an illustrated speech bubble of the navigation app “Waze”.
Dynamic or flexible logos are certainly the superlative discipline among logos. They make it possible to present a brand in a versatile way without forgetting recognisability. This is also referred to as a logo system, as it is not a single logo but a kind of “modular logo system” – the design is therefore complex and elaborate. The complexity can go so far that a special shape generator is coded to deliver unique results. Connecting design elements such as colours, fonts, symbols or shapes are essential.
A flexible logo could be suitable for a brand in the field of music, art or culture, or for a forward-thinking institute with various departments, or for a high-tech robotics company. Jetbrains, an innovative provider of development tools, extended its black square logo with colourful angular areas behind the black square for each individual tool logo. Another example of a dynamic logo is that of Sonantic, a platform that uses AI to create uniquely human-sounding voices. The start-up uses a dynamic logo in which the O changes in a wave-like way to visually translate the sound of the human voice.
A logo should be unique, memorable and simple. No matter what type of logo you ultimately choose, it is important to always keep in mind the digital and printed applications that have different requirements for a logo. Scalability, colour and format are certainly good keywords when it comes to the reproducibility of a logo.
For example, should the logo work as a profile picture for social media even though the company name is very long? Maybe a symbol or monogram is the right option here. Do you have a clothing brand that wants to give a touch of retro or vintage? An emblem with matching fonts and design elements will certainly look great on garments too.
Finally, it should be mentioned that a logo is always just a component of a brand identity, an element of the corporate design, which only makes a harmonic design world tangible through colours, imagery, icons, fonts, illustrations, etc.