We encounter brand logos every day, and they are so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget just how much work goes into creating them. There are many different types of logos, and each one makes a different kind of impression on your target audience, existing customers, and business partners.
Getting your logo right is an incredibly important part of any online business, as this unique emblem gives your brand personality. Not only should the graphic neatly encapsulate your brand’s unique offer and ethos, but it should be instantly recognizable among other types of logo styles. After all, as your business grows, your logo will be used in a wide variety of ways, from adorning your email marketing to advertising posters.
That’s why designing a logo is one of the first processes that any new business should undertake, even before building a new website. Your logo will set the tone, color scheme, and style of the rest of your content, so it makes sense to get your logo in place first. But, how and where do you start? Well, stay tuned because you are about to learn all that you need to get started with a logo maker in no time!
Logos can be roughly divided into seven key types. Each makes use of a different combination of words and images, and each makes a different impression on your audience. In this article, we’ll run through all seven types, and give you examples of which kind of brand uses them. You should come away from this article with a better understanding of a business’ logo impression. Then, you should be able to apply these logo design tips when you are designing your own logo using our tools.
The emblem is arguably the oldest form of logo. Modern emblems – like that of Harley Davidson – still resemble the crests and seals that aristocratic families used in the middle ages. They are typically round and typically include both text and image.
Because of this historical association, emblems tend to convey a sense of heritage and history. That’s why many brands of beer use them – in this market, customers respond to the heritage of the brands they buy. Emblems are also great for conveying a sense of responsibility and tradition, which is why they are often used by government departments and schools.
This type of logo design often contains very detailed imagery, with small accents. Emblems can be great if you want to convey the craftsmanship with which your products are made, but can make them a difficult type of logo to use online because they don’t scale well. A typical emblem logo will not look good scaled down to a favicon, for instance, and nor will it look that good scaled up on a billboard.
Which brands should use an emblem?
- If you are proud of your brand’s heritage and want to stress this, an emblem is a great opportunity to portray your brand identity.
- Equally, if stability and responsibility are important in your sector, an emblem is a good way to convey a sense of gravitas.
Which brands should avoid an emblem?
- On the other hand, if your branding makes much of the novelty of your products, don’t use an emblem, as there are plenty of other applicable design trends to choose from.
Logotypes are a type of logo where your company name is used as your logo. Though this type of logo takes the name of your company as the main design element, you can also make creative use of fonts and colors to convey extra information about your brand. That’s what the most famous company to use a logotype – Google – has done: their logo manages to convey both the simplicity of using their products with bright colors that are attractive to non-techy customers.
The major advantage of logotypes is that they tie your visual identity very closely to your brand image. This is hugely important if your brand name is not a common word, or if your customers will need to use it frequently (while searching for your products online, for example). This is the approach that has been taken by FreshBooks, a company that produces software for invoice templates: since most of their business is online, it makes sense to incorporate their company name into their logo to simultaneously improve website traffic and brand recognition.
Though the basic principle behind a logotype is easy to understand, you should be aware that fonts go in and out of fashion very quickly, and so you will need to update your logotype pretty frequently to keep up with the newest design trends.
Which brands should use a logotype?
- Logotypes are great for new companies because they can quickly get their name being spoken about.
- They are also suitable for companies that have short names, or those who have spent a lot of time thinking of a clever name.
- Equally, for some companies, logotypes are almost unavoidable. Freelance photographers, for instance, typically use logotypes to increase the association between their name and the images they produce.
Which brands should avoid a logotype?
- It goes without saying that brands who have a long company name should not use logotypes. Unless your company name is short enough to be plastered everywhere, you should look for a different type of logo that still fits your brand personality.
Monogram logos are a type of graphic in which you take the acronym for your company, and use these letters as the basis for your logo. This type of logo is very common, but they are easy to overlook because (if they are done well) a brand’s acronym can come to replace your name.
Just think of Home Box Office. Wondering who that is? It’s HBO.
This type of logo is commonly used by long-established companies that have inherited a name that no longer makes for good branding. That’s the case, for instance, with Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, who is now more commonly known as 3M.
When designing this kind of logo, typography is key. With just a few letters to work with, you have to be spot-on with the small details of your logo. Just be aware that – as with logotypes above – you may need to revisit your design every few years as font fashions change.
Which brands should use a monogram?
- For some brands, the decision to use a monogram is a no-brainer. In many sectors – think of law firms – referring to companies by their initials is standard practice.
- Monograms are also useful if you want to retain a link between your name and your brand, but have too long a name to use a logotype.
Which brands should avoid a monogram?
- Conversely, new brands looking to make a name for themselves should avoid monograms. In this case, you should include your full name in your logo, at least until your target audience recognizes who you are.
Brand marks take a different approach to the logo examples we’ve mentioned so far. Here, the idea is to avoid the use of text altogether, and rely purely on an image for brand recognition.
Brand marks can be difficult to design because most people have a more direct relationship with text than with an abstract image. On the other hand, huge brands can use a brand mark as an elegant and simple way of being recognized. This is, for instance, what Starbucks did in 2011, removing its brand name from its image altogether.
The catch is that your brand has to be recognizable – like Starbucks – before you can rely on an image entirely. For that reason, brand marks often evolve from other types of logo designs as a brand becomes more successful.
That said, brand marks are one of the most popular types of a logo at the moment, particularly among tech companies. Small tech startups often design a logo with a brand mark included, perhaps in the hope that one day they can drop their company name, while still maintaining brand identity. Among the many, one reason why a logo is important is to portray and preserve your brand identity.
This is seen across the board, from the smallest tech companies to the largest. It is the approach taken by Weave, a maker of appointment reminder software, as well as – of course – Apple, who hasn’t written their company name on any of their products for decades.
Which brands should use a brand mark?
- If your company name lends itself to a simple image – like Weave and Apple above – then a brand mark can be an elegant way of branding your company. Typography may no longer be necessary.
- Similarly, if you make consumer goods but want to avoid plastering your company’s name all over them, a small brand mark can be a great way to get your logo out there.
Which brands should avoid a brand mark?
- On the other hand, if you are still unsure of exactly how to brand your company, don’t jump in with a brand mark immediately. Brand marks are harder to change than the font of your logotype, for instance, so don’t tie yourself to a brand mark too early.
- Secondly, many people find that designing a suitable brand mark is more difficult than using a logotype or another form of text-based logo.
Mascots are a more unusual form of logo and can be difficult to use. In some cases, and in some types of online business, a mascot can give a brand a human face, and increase the emotional tie that your customers have to your brand. For this reason, mascots are used by many sports teams and food companies who want to create a human connection to what would otherwise be a fairly abstract organization.
On the other hand, there are two big problems with the mascots.
The first is that they can make your brand look a little dated. Mascots were very popular before the 1970s – think of Mr. Peanut – and they can evoke the feeling that your branding is from this era. The second issue is that making a cute, smiley mascot can sometimes mean your logo is too cute and too smiley: this makes your brand look like it is designed for children.
Of course, for some brands – and particularly those who want to appeal to families or children – these are not problems, but benefits.
Which brands should use a mascot?
- Brands who want to appeal to families and children should give serious thought to designing a mascot.
- Equally, a mascot comes with some huge advantages for brands that want to get into multi-channel marketing. Your mascot need not stay on your print media, but can also appear as an icon in your TV ads and (perhaps) in real life.
Which brands should avoid a mascot?
- The biggest problem with mascots is that they can seem unserious. If you are a cybersecurity company, for instance, or are in any other sector where professionalism is a virtue, you want to avoid this kind of mascot to protect your corporate identity.
Though the types of logos we’ve discussed up to now are all quite different, in reality, you don’t have to choose between them. In fact, the successful branding of a company often relies on you developing several different types of a logo – an image, emblem, text style, and mascot – and then swapping and changing these depending on the circumstances.
Perhaps the most obvious example of a “combination” logo is Dove, a soap brand. They have been using two design elements – both a logotype and an image of a dove – for almost a century now. This means that they can use either on their products or ads and still be recognized.
Which brands should use a combination mark?
- Combination marks are great if you are a new company and still finding your feet. With several different design elements to choose from, you can be flexible with the way that you present your company.
- Established companies can also benefit from this approach by adding another design element to their existing logo. If your logo or symbol is looking a little out of date, you can slowly introduce a new, more contemporary, element into your branding.
Which brands should avoid a combination mark?
- In truth, combination marks work well for most companies, albeit with one word of warning: don’t design too many elements. Though it’s possible to have a logotype and image and mascot, if you have all three they should all be as simple as possible. Otherwise, you risk confusing both your customers and your staff.
Designing a logo
Once you’ve decided on the type of logo you want, it’s time to design one. This can be an intimidating job, especially for those of us who are not used to working with visual imagery. But fear not: that’s why we’ve developed an advanced logo maker to help you.
When designing your logo, there are a few key considerations to take into account. The first is where and when you are going to use your new logo. Is it primarily for your website, or will you use it in your outreach as well? Will it be printed on your products, or only seen in print? Some hosting providers like Spearhead Multimedia provide you with software to coordinate your branding across both your website and social media channels, making them a popular web host around the world. However, it’s worth having an idea of where your logo will appear before starting to design it.
The next step is to find logos that you like and copy them. Or not exactly copy them, but “take inspiration” from them! There might be a particular color that draws you to a logo, for instance, or a particular font. Listening to your gut in this way is great, just be sure that you are drawing on logos that are right for your brand and not just those that you like.
Finally, test your logo. You should spend as long as is required to produce a logo that you are truly happy with – after all, you only have to do this once – but the problem with spending hours looking at it is that you can get caught up in the details and miss the big picture. Show your logo to your staff, of course, but it’s equally important to ask the opinion of people not directly involved in your company.
A final word
Finally, have fun.
That might sound a little difficult after all the information and considerations you’ve been bombarded with in this article, but remember that designing a logo is one of the most creative tasks involved in starting a business. And if you are a new company, taking the time to get your logo right will pay dividends in the future.
Ultimately, you should also remember that you are in charge of your logo. Though there has been much talk of the way that data science is changing web design, and many predictions that AI will eliminate human designers, this is not going to happen anytime soon. When it comes to producing great logos, the human eye is still key.
That’s not to say you can’t get a little help, though. Our logo design tools are built around an AI engine that takes some of the hard work out of how to create a business logo – of whichever type you choose – without removing your freedom to get creative.