Words and letters
Letter marks «
IBM, CNN, HP, HBO… Noticing a pattern, yes? They’re the initialism of a few famous businesses with rather lengthy names. With 2 or 3 words to remember, they’ve each turned to using their initials for brand-identification purposes. So it makes perfect sense for them to use monograms—sometimes called letter mark logos— to represent their company logo design.
A letter mark is a typography-based logo that’s comprised of a few letters, usually a company’s initials. The letter mark is all about simplicity. By utilizing just a few letters, logo designers have found that letter mark logos are effective at streamlining any company brand if they have a long name. For example, how much easier is it to say—and remember—NASA versus the National Aeronautics and Space Administration?
Because the focus is on initials, the font you choose (or create) is very important to make sure your logo is not only on-theme with what your company does, but also legible when you print on business cards. Also, if you’re not an established business already you may want to add your full business name below the logo so people can begin to learn who you are right away.
Word marks/Logotypes «
Similar to a letter mark, a word mark logo is a font-based logo that focuses on a business’ name alone. Think Visa and Coca-Cola. Word mark logos work really well when a company has a succinct and distinct name. Google’s logo is a great example of this. The name itself is catchy and memorable so, when combined with strong typography, the logo helps create strong brand recognition.
Also, like with a letter mark logo, typography will be an important decision. Since the focus will be on your name, you’ll want to pick a font—or create a font—that captures the essence of what your business does. For example, fashion labels tend to use clean, elegant fonts that feel high-end, while legal or government agencies almost always stick to traditional, “heavier” text that feels secure.
Pictures and Symbols
Pictorial marks «
A pictorial mark (sometimes called a brand marks or logo symbol) is an icon—or graphic-based design. It’s probably the image that comes to mind when you think “logo”: the iconic Apple logo, the Twitter bird, the Target bulls eye. Each of these companies’ logos is so emblematic, and each brand so established, that the mark alone is instantly recognizable. A true brand mark is only an image. Because of this, it can be a tricky logo type for new companies, or those without strong brand recognition, to use.
The biggest thing to consider when deciding to go with a pictorial mark is what image to choose. This is something that will stick with your company its entire existence. You need to think about the broader implications of the image you choose: do you want to play on your name (like John Deere does with their deer logo)? Or are you looking to create deeper meaning (think how the Snap chat ghost tells us what the product does)? Or do you want to evoke an emotion (as the World Wildlife foundation does with their stylized image of a panda—an adorable and endangered species)?
Combination Mark «
A combination mark is a logo design comprised of a combined word mark or letter mark and a pictorial mark, abstract mark, or mascot. The picture and text can be laid out side-by-side, stacked on top of each other, or integrated together to create an image. Some well known combination mark logos include Doritos, Burger King and Lacoste.
Because a name is associated with the image, a combination mark is a versatile choice, with both the text and icon or mascot working together to reinforce your brand. With a combination mark, people will also begin to associate your name with your pictorial mark or mascot right away! In the future you may be able to rely exclusively on a logo symbol, and not have to always include your name. Also, because the combination of a symbol and text create a distinct image together, these logos are usually easier to trademark than a pictorial mark alone.