The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

By Ciara Tomlinson 2 months ago

There’s been a lot of logo talk in the DG office recently – Holly gave us all a session on branding and logo design and it inspired some interesting discussions, such as:

What did the first Cadbury logo look like?

This is the answer in case you were interested.

Why are all the logos for major social media platforms blue?

Seriously, think about it. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, even MySpace…. 

Do you need to provide logos in black and white anymore?

A fair point, really.

And, what do we think of our own logo?

We love it.

One very simple but very interesting discussion that was raised during the session was the benefits of different types of logos. In particular, why do some brands rely on one particular element, such as visual elements, and why do some rely on others, such as text.  In this blog, we take a look at the three main different types of logo (there are many different ways you can split these categories, but generally every logo should fall under one of these three) and which is right for your business.

 

Iconic logos

No, we don’t mean iconic as in widely recognised or well established (or do we? We’ll get to that part in a second…), we’re talking about the kind of logo that relies solely on an icon.

An icon is a pictorial representation of something, and can be abstract – such as BP’s ‘Helios’ (that’s the Greek god of the sun), or Pepsi’s ‘smile’ – or more literal, such as KFC’s Colonel Sanders,  Twitter’s tweety bird, or Apple’s logo.

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?So when should a business employ an iconic logo?

When we discussed this as a team, we all came to the same conclusion: iconic logos work best for iconic businesses. Every example we could think of that relied on iconography was a well-established brand that needed little else in the way of a logo to alert us to whose products we were looking at. The Nike tick, the McDonald’s arches, Android, Instagram, the Olympics, Windows, Shell – all big brands that are easily recognised by one image.

Because of this, it can be very tricky for a new or smaller business to implement an iconic logo. Often, in these cases, the business needs to include some level of explaining, such as a name or strapline, in order for the audience to understand what it is they are looking at – there isn’t that instant brand recognition. However, we also discussed how many of these iconic brand logos developed out of something else. For example, this is the original Apple logo:

 

Typographic logos

This type of logo is pretty self-explanatory: typographic logos rely mostly on typography.

Not all big businesses rely on icons to create brand recognition. Some go in the opposite direction, using their brand name to create instant brand recognition.

Think Google, Coca-Cola, eBay, Cadbury’s, Disney, Levi’s, IBM, Amazon, Calvin Klein, Canon… you get the picture.

The reason many brands, big and small, opt for a typographic logo is due to the fact that it gets the message across immediately – there’s no room for confusion or mistakes as to who this business is.

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

But opting for a typographic logo isn’t as easy as simply writing out your business’s name. One huge consideration your business should take into consideration is how your brand is represented in the subtleties of a typographic logo.

For example, does the font reflect your business’s values, services, and industry? Is the font bold, and forward-facing? Or is it unassuming and inviting? Is it clear and professional? Vintage and pointing to your business’s heritage? How does the colour play a part? Is your logo bright and fun, or subdued and sophisticated?

This logo that we created for Director2Director is a great example of what typography can achieve. Although the entire logo is made up just of text, the colours and font give off the professional vibe expected of a networking/mastermind group, while the inward facing Ds could look like a book, or could invoke the face-to-face aspect of the business.

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

Combination logos

You’ve probably guessed it by now… combination logos are a combination of both icon and typography.

Famous examples include: Puma, Doritos, Burger King, Mastercard, and North Face.

Businesses can approach combination logos in different ways – the text can be kept separate from the imagery, like with Puma, or integrated into the design, like in Burger King.

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?
The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

There are many benefits for smaller and larger businesses, which make it a popular choice. The main benefit is that you can use the imagery to encapsulate the mood and feel of your business, and use the text to give more detail. Smaller businesses in particular might find this beneficial as it gives them the opportunity to display a projected image and also clearly state who they are and what they do.

This logo we created for DPS group is an example of a combination logo – the text explains who the business is and what they do, while the imagery evokes the industry that they’re in through the CMYK colour values of the traditional printing process.

The three basic types of logo: Which is right for my business?

Looking for logo design for your business? Get in touch with our Design team and find out what we can do for you.

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  Branding
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