The 7 Types of logos, in 3 common groups
Depending on the article you read, the number of different types of logos varies from 5 to 9, but we have focused on the most widely accepted 7.
We have then further collated these into 3 familiar groups based on shared characteristics.
This outlines the different types of logos and explains why they exist and how to use them.
They are as follows:
- Logo symbols, brand marks or pictorial marks
- Abstract logo marks
- Logotypes or Wordmarks
- Lettermarks or monogram logos
- Combination marks
Logo symbols, brand marks or pictorial marks. This is the form of logo most commonly considered or recollected when asked about logos, with most people ascribing them as ‘Iconic’ or universally understood worldwide.
To achieve this status, the brand is almost always well established and has achieved this level of instant recognition through years of hard work and consistent brand management.
Most people aspire to be these sorts of icons when creating a new brand.
The biggest challenge is choosing an image that reflects your brand and will mean something to your target customers.
Established brands have had the time to build this association, so choosing the right image is critical, as the actual name of the item (and usually the brand) may vary worldwide, i.e. apple is Apfel in German, Pomme in French and Elma in Turkish.
Abstract logo marks.
This extends the pictorial form and takes it to another level, where it no longer looks like anything other than itself. No identifiable objects but an abstract representation of the brand and its products or services.
Through just colour and form, an abstract logo design can be free to reflect other values of the brand other than the name or the product. Great examples are:
This approach avoids multilingual challenges as it does not represent an identifiable item.
Recently some brands have created abstract versions of their logo not only to be used anywhere around the globe but also due to the challenges of social media and the need for responsive logos.
One of the easiest ways to make your logo friendly and approachable is through Anthropomorphism.
By bringing your logo to life by giving it a character and personality, you instantly make it more likeable.
This approach is incredibly popular when dealing with FMCG brands that must appeal to children and families, you only have to walk down the cereal aisle of your local shop to see dozens of characters from Tony the Tiger on Frosties, The Honey Monster, Snap, Crackle and Pop or Captain Birdseye in the frozen section.
Many of these characters have been around for several generations, constantly changing to reflect the current market.
KFC has always put the Colonel at the heart of their brand, and you half expect to see him in store.
Logotype designs or Wordmarks. This logo comprises the company’s name in a font or script-based design.
The benefit of this approach over just a pictorial mark is that it shares your name with consumers.
This works best when the name is relatively unique and memorable such as Coca-Cola or Google.
In choosing a name like this, you can avoid most translation issues as the word will become synonymous with you and your brand.
Lettermarks or monogram logos.
These are similar to logotypes but have been created using the company’s or brand’s initials.
In distilling a brand name down to its initials, it almost makes an abstract mark of the name, allowing organisations or companies with long or complex names to have a simplified version.
For example, ‘International Business Machines’ would be challenging to get into a small usable logo, whereas IBM is both neater and more universal.
The choice of font and brand colour are the levers you have to make the monogram likeable and memorable.
A very common belt and braces approach are to have a pictorial element, whether a logo, abstract mark or mascot and accompanying letterform, as this allows you to instantly recognise and share your brand name.
This is common because it is the most effective for building and maintaining brand recognition.
The text can often be placed to the side, underneath or incorporated into the image.
Another benefit to this approach is that registering it as an official trademark is easier than just an image-based logo as it clearly states the company or brand name in it.
Are a more refined or complex version of the combined logo, drawing on more traditional connotations of branding and iconic imagery. Emblems instantly reflect a level of status or authority that makes them very attractive to schools, universities and government bodies.
Another market that has clearly embraced this form of branding, hoping to turn brand advocacy into potential tribalism, is the motor industry. Brands such as Porsche and BMW demonstrate this combined approach, as well as Harley Davidson for motorcycles.
But a sector that has truly refined this form of the logo into an art form is that of professional sports. Football clubs worldwide share a similar approach to creating a brand that differentiates them from other teams and is worn with a passion by their fans.