There are three basic types of logos: text, symbol, and combination logos. The type of logo that will work best for your company depends on a number of considerations, such as the size of your company, the uniqueness of your name, and a variety of other factors.
A text logo (also sometimes called a logotype or word mark) is a logo largely made up of the text of the company’s name. This type of logo can have some graphic elements—lines, boxes, borders—that interact with, surround, or even form the letters. However, the graphic elements should be used as an accent to the text, not as a major or equally-weighted part of the logo.
A text logo works well when:
- You have a multi-word business name. If your business name is made up of many words, that are not commonly or easily abbreviated, or when an abbreviation may not be appropriate developing a text logo will keep the logo design as simple and clean as possible.
- You’re working with an innovative, unique business name, as with Yahoo or Google. In each case, the business name is enough to make the logo memorable.
- You’re designing a logo for a large company that offers many types of products, services, or a combination of both, that may be hard to define or “wrap up” in a single picture or symbol.
- You’re designing a logo “for the long haul”—there is less concern about your company “outgrowing” a text logo—they are timeless and classic.
- Trademark protection is highly important—as long as your business name is unique, then a text logo will also be unique.
A text logo may not be the right choice if:
- Your business name is not unique; this can mean difficulty for building your brand recognition. Then, without a symbol, the logo will be more difficult to remember or to associate with your business.
- Your business name does not describe what you do, it can be hard to tell what products or services you offer when just a text logo is used. Taglines or other graphic elements will need to be employed to tell your audience more about your business.
A symbol logo is the opposite extreme in design from a text logo. This type of logo includes neither words nor letters—only symbols, images and shapes.
A symbol logo works well when:
- Your company already has a high level of brand recognition. If who you are and what you do are already widely known, then you can use a symbol logo as an elegant and clean solution.
- You have been using a combination logo for some time and have now built up enough brand recognition for your symbol to stand alone. This is a common transition for a logo design to take when your company grows.
- You have a unique symbol in your industry—you wouldn’t want to be confused with or mistaken for anyone else in your industry!
- You have the time and energy to trademark your logo, and then to police and enforce that trademark. This is how you ensure that your logo continues to be uniquely yours.
- You have a global presence and can develop a universal, graphic symbol that speaks to you and audiences. Additionally, a symbol can have meanings on many levels, and can also have different meanings in different cultures
A text logo may not be the right choice if:
- You are a company just starting out, you must have the budget and desire to educate your audience on your new symbol logo. This can be a difficult task.
A logo that in some manner combines both a symbol and the company name. The symbol and text can be integrated together, side by side, or with one located above the other.
Combination logos are the most common type of logo for several reasons:
- A combination logo offers the best of both worlds. This type of logo offers a memorable logo graphic that tells the story of who you are, what you do, and what makes you different, all in conjunction with your business name for easy identification.
- A combination logo is an excellent choice for a small- or medium-sized company or a company just starting out, to begin to build brand recognition, because a combination logo is both visually strong and explanatory. The symbol can speak to the services that the company offers, while the company name increases the company recognition.
- Combination logos are easier to copyright and protect than a symbol-only logo, because the logo symbol will always be used in conjunction with the business name. This automatically makes the logo unique.
You can use this guide to determine the best type of logo to design or to have designed for your company, based on the size of your business, how well-known you are, your business name, and your business plans, among other factors. Choosing the right type of logo design is the first step in building your company’s visibility, credibility, and memorability.