This may be a basic overview for more experienced designers, but in order to best serve your client, you should know the different types of logos and when one is better suited than another.
A great logo design can help strengthen your brand image and the way your consumers view your company. There are 3 basic logotypes in the design industry all of which have their own positive and negative traits.
Iconic/Symbolic logos are images used to help convey a representation of a company or brand without the use of text. If the design is instantly recognizable, memorable and has the ability to still keep clarity while being reproduced in small sizes, then the designer has done a great job in conveying a symbolic logo. Companies such as Apple, & Nike both use symbolic logos and are also some of the most recognizable logos in the world today.
Symbolic or Iconic logos are graphics that are uncomplicated, and are used to simply convey the message of the brand without being overly complex or metaphorical. Although some icons are metaphorical, they must be able to reflect the message, to those who do not understand the metaphorical undertone. The graphics can be abstract, or accurate in design. Iconic logos are the most common logos.
Designing an iconic logo can be complicated. At first glance, it would seem that “simple” would be easier, but designing an iconic logo is difficult. You are limited in space and scope to convey the message of the brand, without being complex, and keeping the integrity of the company mission. This can be difficult when you are only working with a few shapes.
When creating a symbolic logo, you want to get to know the industry or company. Some part of the logo must depict an angle or aspect of the business. Iconic designs are unique because they must represent the company and introduce the identity of the company quickly.
Text may accompany an iconic logo, but is separate in design. Especially in the beginning of the branding process, text is important, and can be used to give a much abbreviated explanation or description. Text can be used to introduce yourself. However, for companies who successfully build a brand that becomes a household name, they may drop the words, and use only the icon as their logo. This should be done carefully, and only once you have achieved a recognizable status with your audience.
The second basic type of logo is called the Wordmark. This includes a company’s name or brand into a stylized font that tries to convey the idea of what the company is about. Typically, script fonts are used to imply a sense of formality or refinement whereas thick fonts try to display strength and power. Wordmarks can also include hand-drawn type to add a bit of originality and style and to increase the interest of the logo. Like the Symbolic logos, you should also choose a font that when scaled to a small size is still clear and visible to the viewer’s eyes.
Most wordmark logos do not include graphics, but there are those that do. Creating a wordmark is difficult because most often, you only have the text to work with. There are many creative things you can do with a wordmark, but it can be the most difficult to create, because you are somewhat limited.
The Human logo is a great example of a wordmark that is very creative. As you can see, the logo is the word. The font is strong, thick and black. If you see the logo, even for a few seconds, you can see that the negative space in the “a” creates a shape. This shape is used to take on the meaning of the word. Often, really great wordmark logos will do exactly that. They will explain the word, within the text and typography, without having to say anything extra at all.
Next, is the combination mark logo. This type of logo features the best of both worlds in combining both an image and text within the brand or logo. These logos are the most frequently used in the design world. You will see in the examples above two different styles of combination mark logos. The Pepsi logo has an image to left of the text whereas the Burger King logo places the text within the image to combine the two into something compelling and easy on the eyes.
There many different types of logos and as a designer you should never be constrained to just one style. A logo is intended to represent the look of the company and brainstorming ideas and thoughts about what the company wants to achieve with their logo should always be done before you hit the drawing board.