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The 3 Types of Logos and Which You Should Choose for Your Brand

Your logo is the visual symbol of your brand, so it’s crucial to develop one that truly represents your brand’s message and promise.

That means thinking outside the box and creating a design that instantly connects with your target personas.

There are as many variations on logos as there are companies in the world. How can you stand apart from the crowd? To design the best logo, you must first understand the three main types of logos and how they work.

Image-Forward Logos

Imagine Apple’s or Nike’s famous logos. Without any identifying information, we know what company they represent. That’s due to the efforts of enormous marketing teams, but you too can take advantage of a pictorial logo. These types of logos are highly symbolic and memorable. If you’re a well-established business looking for a rebranding effort, or if you can include a strong image with a bit of text (more on that in a moment), an image-forward logo can work very well for your brand. From technology companies to food trucks, there’s often an image you can choose as a symbol.

Other image-forward logos include abstract designs (usually geometric in nature) or mascots. Abstract designs are great for companies that want to communicate their values or philosophy, or for design firms that want to show off their chops.

Mascots should be used carefully as they can often seem gimmicky or cartoonish. They’re usually associated with software companies, food companies, sports, and home services. Hire a high-quality illustrator to present you with a professional-looking character who can express your brand’s voice and character.

Word- or Letter-Based Logos

There are several types of text-driven logo designs you can use if you’d rather keep it literal. Initial-based designs, called letterforms, use one letter in a highly stylized fashion. Common among auto manufacturers, software companies, and personal brands, this might be a good option for you if you’d rather your name drive your brand.

Similar to letterforms are monograms, also called lettermarks. These feature acronyms and thus are great for organizations, law firms, realty firms, etc. That said, acronyms can seem impersonal or hard to remember. A strong logo design can help build name recognition, but unless you’ve got a compelling acronym, it might be better to choose an image-based design.

Finally, there are wordmarks, which is your entire company name in a specialized font. These are often used by universities, design firms, entertainment companies, publications, and other situations where the name is crucial to the brand. Note that word marks can be used in conjunction with an image-based logo.

Combination Image- and Text-Based Design

A combination mark is what it sounds like: it combines a wordmark and a pictorial image. Sometimes, it can incorporate your company’s tagline as well. If you’re first starting out, combination marks are ideal for expressing your brand. As you gain recognition, you can separate out the logo from the wordmark and vice versa.

A fancier version of a combination mark is an emblem. The difference is that the individual elements of a combination mark can’t be extracted and used separately. Emblems have a vintage, old-fashioned look and can be great for rebranding historic companies.

Wrapping Up

Once you’ve chosen the type of logo you need, you can work with a designer to find a compelling combination of font, color, proportion, imagery, and other elements. Test different drafts with a focus group to see which version resonates best. Remember, this is going to be the face of your company, so take your time in developing it! A strong logo is one that can last for years with minimal changes.


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