In this article, we'll look at the types of logo design, different logo styles, and logo style examples to inspire you. We'll explore how many types of logo design there are and answer questions like "What is a logotype?" and "What is a wordmark vs. a logo?" Let's take look at the different types of logos.
What Are the Different Types of Logo Design?
There are several different styles of logo design, each with their own strengths and possibilities. Let's go through the different types of logos, with examples.
Wordmarks are a type of logo that relies on typography to visually communicate the logo design concept. In this case, the logo itself tends to be the name of the business. Some famous examples of logo design that would be considered wordmarks are Coca Cola, Kellogg's, and Netflix.
Note that these examples are typographic—while they do have unique visual aspects, the design itself is all about the typography and the name of the business itself. This is what makes it a wordmark.
Wordmarks can be a great choice for logo design because it's the name of the business: there's no mistaking that. However, it's also imperative that we, as designers, recognize the expressive and communicative nature of typography and typefaces. A great wordmark is more than selecting a trendy font—the font has a shape and a form that add to the communicative nature of the logo.
For example, note the logo for The New York Times. The typeface looks like a blackletter or gothic script font. It's important to consider the visual association here. This font could visually communicate things like age—implying that this publication has been a long-standing source.
Lettermarks are similar to wordmarks in that they revolve around typography—but instead, they are simplified, like a monogram. In fact, when people refer to a monogram logo, they are usually also referring to a lettermark. Some famous examples of logo design that would be considered lettermarks are BBC, CNN, and IBM.
Letterforms, on the other hand, are even more simplified. In this case, we're working with a single letter. For example, the McDonald's "M" or the "golden arches" could be considered a letterform type of logo.
Pictorial marks are graphical in nature. In these cases, the logo heavily relies on some kind of imagery to communicate and associate with the brand in question. Some famous examples of pictorial mark logos would include Twitter's bird symbol, Target's graphical target symbol, and Dropbox's box symbol. Note how each logo visually communicates something about the brand, without using any words at all.
Pictorial marks can be tricky to work with and design. You have to say a lot without any words at all. One of the most famous examples of a pictorial mark is Apple's "apple" logo. When we see this logo, we associate it immediately with their products and branding. A lot of this is due to exposure. However, it's also due to the association with the name. We see an apple due to the visual iconography, and this is the name of the business.
Abstract marks are also visual, but don't necessarily rely on visual associations with preconceived ideas or iconography. They are what the name implies: visually abstract imagery. Some famous examples of abstract marks would include the Pepsi logo, the Spotify logo, and the logo rings for the Olympics.
Abstract marks can be another challenging design solution on their own. They are often paired with some sort of typography, especially if the brand is lesser known. Imagine, for example, seeing an abstract symbol you'd never seen before with no descriptive type. It might not be clear to you, especially as a new consumer.
The BP logo is an interesting example of an abstract mark. It has a geometric design, but also seems to have an association with a flower. The color choices as well are rather natural, and there could also be a visual association here with the sun, which could imply energy. What do you think? Does this work well for this brand?
Emblems are shields or crest-like symbols that can contain multiple design elements. They have a rather stately feel to them, and can be rather ornate. Some famous examples of logos that take an emblem approach would include the Starbucks logo and the UPS logo.
In many ways, emblems are similar to combination marks, which we'll talk about below. Notice how they tend to incorporate different design approaches. However, there's usually an aspect tying it all together into one concise "piece" that makes it an emblem. A great example would be the Harley-Davidson logo. Notice how it's rather patch-like or looks like a crest. The design is very self-contained and inspired by its own elements.
Mascots and Personas
Mascots use characters and character art to create an association with a brand. You might associate this kind of branding with children's products. Mascots, in particular, have a lot of prevalence in things like breakfast cereals and other marketing efforts directed at a younger audience. For example, Tony the Tiger is often associated with Kellogg's Frosties or Frosted Flakes, depending on your location.
However, we do regularly see an exception here for sporting and athletic logos. For example, the British Olympic Association often uses a lion mascot as a part of its branding. The American National Football League often features mascot characters, like the Baltimore Ravens.
Combination and Dynamic Marks
Combination marks take multiple types of logo design and merge them together. So, for example, a combination mark could employ both expressive typography and an abstract mark. Some famous examples of combination marks would include the Amazon logo, the Nintendo logo, and the Pringles logo.
Notice how each of these pulls from more than one type of logo style. In the Amazon logo, we see typography, but we also see imagery that implies a smile, especially in how the type curves upwards. The Nintendo logo is largely typographic, but then we see an abstract, rounded shape surrounding the type. In the Pringles logo, we see a mascot, paired with typography, and composed in a way that's quite emblem-like.
For example, let's take a look at the Adidas logo.
There's typography, there's abstract imagery, and there are communicative qualities here. The abstract shapes go upwards, almost like a mountain. Perhaps we could associate this with increased performance or exercise.
In these examples, we can see the importance of understanding the different directions we can take with logo design composition. However, these definitions are not necessarily rules but rather tools that we can effectively use to create the optimal result.
Logo Style Examples for Download and Inspiration
Here are some additional examples of different styles of logo design. This time, these aren't necessarily internationally known examples, but rather examples for inspiration and further understanding. You can also download these examples, if you'd like to use them in your next design project.
How many types of logo design do you see in this concept? It's notable as an emblem type of design, as the content is compact and designed to accommodate a crest or stamp-like shape.
This abstract concept uses both a visual and typography together. However, notice how the two different colors "come together" to meet at a point. This is purposeful and ties into what the type says.
Gaming is another type of sport that often benefits from the use of mascots and other visual characterization. Sports often incorporate this kind of logo design, as it has a certain energy and personality to it.
This elegant logo design concept uses multiple design approaches. The top is rather emblem-like and has a single lettermark in the center. However, the type at the bottom is not necessarily a part of the emblem—and it doesn't have to be in order to be successful.
This logo uses some preconceived imagery to convey an idea. We see the two overlapping film reels, and this visually communicates the idea of which film to choose.
Here's another communicative concept. This one is interesting because it visually relates the circular shape of the planet to the circular shape of a donut. Playful associations like this can result in fun and memorable icons to associate with your brand.
Emblems don't necessarily have to be stately or ornate. Here's an emblem style design that takes an earthy, camp-like approach. It feels organic and quite informal.
This concept pushes the first letter of the business name to create a visual letterform. It has long, sweeping colors but is still quite abstract. As a result, we have to rely a lot on color and shape here for the communicative qualities.
This cute logo design visually depicts the name of the business itself. We see a bee, and we see it listening to sound. This can be a fun approach—taking the name and visually creating an icon out of it.
Here's an even more direct example of the same concept, but even more integrated. We see the idea of a time bomb illustrated via a clock icon with a fuse at the top.
Looking for More Logo Design Inspiration?
If you're looking for more logo style examples, check out these inspiring collections from Envato Tuts+. They contain many different logo design styles and types of logos with examples, including content you can download and experiment with yourself.
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Love Experimenting With Logo Design?
How about trying out some new logo concepts right now, from the comfort of your browser? Check out Placeit—an online, browser-based design tool. It's free to jump in and start making design concepts right now. Enjoy the convenience of experimenting with new ideas or customizing pre-made content from any device—desktop or mobile.
Logo Design Terminology Cheat Sheet
Here's a list of frequently asked questions about logo design and the different types of logos out there. Keep in mind that when it comes to things like the different types of logos with their names, you might find varied answers out there. For example, monograms are often called lettermarks, or you might see mascots grouped with pictorial logos.
In these cases, the formalities are a detail and not the "meat" of the subject. The most important thing is understanding that there are different logo design approaches. If you know these approaches, you can choose the best one for your professional projects.
How Many Types of Logos Are There?
In this article, we broke the different types of logos into seven categories, although it's not uncommon to see it represented as nine or as little as five. How many types of logo design there are may vary based on the book, classroom, or resource you research, but the concepts are the same.
Rather than focusing too hard on the idea of "how many types of logos are there", the important thing to note here is the concept: that we can depict logos with visuals and type. The different types of logos are largely a combination of these two possibilities. Some of them draw upon preconceived associations with visuals, while others create a lasting visual themselves via abstraction, interest, and other design principles.
Why Should I Know About the Different Styles of Logo Design?
Think of it like understanding your tools. If you plan to design logos, you should know the different styles of logo design you can create—what they are, how they work, and why they work. This knowledge will help you make the best decision for your professional projects.
What Is a Logotype?
The term logotype refers to the typographic components of a logo design. This term is similar to, and in some cases identical to, wordmarks.
What Is a Logotype vs. a Logomark?
The question of logotype vs. logomark typically refers to pictorial versus text.
For example, Disney's logo—the iconic signature—would be considered logotype, because it is a stylistic depiction of words that acts as a key part of the branding. Logotype design heavily relies on the typography itself. This is another way of referring to wordmarks, as we explored earlier.
The Apple logo—the iconic apple symbol with a bite taken out—would be considered a logomark. This because it is a pictorial symbol that represents and acts as a key part of the branding. This is another way of referring to pictorial marks, as we explored above.
What's the Difference Between a Logo and a Logotype?
When looking at the concept of logo and logotype, a logotype is a part of a logo design. A logo design can entirely consist of a logotype, or the logotype can be a part of a larger logo design. For example, the logotype could be paired with an abstract mark.
A logotype refers to the typographic components of a logo design. Logotype design would be a typographic logo design or the typographic components.
What's the Best Logotype Design Approach?
The short answer is: the best logotype design is going to depend on the client and the objectives. There isn't one particular catch-all type treatment that's always going to fit the bill. Be wary of exclusively clinging to design trends, as something that's super trendy and stylish right now might not necessarily have long-term staying power.
When considering the best logotype design, think about what you want your logo to visually communicate. It can be helpful to work with keywords. This way, you can think about how to communicate those words visually.
What Is a Logo Style Guide?
A logo style guide defines how a logo should be used within the brand guidelines. You may see this referred to as a logo usage guide. For example, it will describe which colors should be used in which situations, like single color and/or black and white options, in addition to the specific colors unique to the logo design.
A logo style guide can be a part of a larger branding guide or style guide for a professional venture.
What Is a Wordmark vs. a Logo? What Is a Wordmark vs. a Logotype?
Remember, a wordmark is a logo that relies on text—it is a type of logo design. Not all logos are wordmarks, but all wordmarks are logos. The proper logotype definition may vary from source to source.
The terms logotype and wordmark are often used interchangeably—and that's OK! In these cases, most are referring to logos that rely on typography to visually convey their mark.
In some spaces, you may hear logotype refer to any text within a logo design composition, whereas a wordmark is a logo that relies on typography. Think of this in terms of the text in a combination mark vs. a wordmark.
Which logotype definition do you use most or prefer?
What Is a Monogram Logo?
A monogram typically consists of a limited amount of letters, positioned together in a stylistic way. When I think of monograms, I often think of my grandfather's robe—it had his initials engraved on it in large, stylistic display type.
However, in terms of logo design, when someone refers to a monogram logo, they are typically referring to a lettermark. These are logos that rely on limited characters but are still type-centric.
Which Type of Logo Best Suits Your Project?
Now that we've explored the different types of logos, which are your favorites? It's important to be aware of the types of logo design because we need to be able to identify which solution is best for the project at hand. Different types of logo design may best suit certain aesthetics or project goals. Consider different logo styles as you brainstorm ideas for your next branding project.
Remember, however, that different logo design styles are more than the type of mark—that's arguably just one part of a much larger puzzle to solve!
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