Lisa Merriam

Logo Styles and Logo Types

After you have selected the name of your company, product or service, you will want to bring it to life with a visual representation–you need a logo!

You’ve got a number of logo styles and approaches to choose from. Below are the four general logo styles in common use, along with their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Logo Style: The Word Mark

logo-types-wordmarksThe Word Mark is the most common of logo styles—39 % of the top 100 global brands use this approach. This type of logo turns the word itself into the graphic representation of the brand. The reasons for the popularity of this approach are:

  • Your logo is tremendously flexible in both a design and a business sense.
  • It can evolve to work with new businesses and sub-brands. The Microsoft brand now works to endorse dozens of product brands such as Windows and Business Solutions.
  • From a design sense, you are have more graphic freedom. Your logo doesn’t compete against your graphics in brochures, Web pages, and ads.
  • The cost is lower to implement
  • The logo is easier to use

This approach works best if you have a unique name.

Logo Style: Symbol


logo-types-symbolsOn the other end of the spectrum are logos that are only a symbol. No words necessary. The benefits of this approach are:

  • Your brand transcends language—it has meaning everywhere
  • It creates an iconic presence

Only 3% of the top brands in the world are strictly symbol brands. It takes an enormous budget, wide distribution and lots of time to establish a symbol as a brand that speaks on its own.

Logo Style: Combination Mark


logo-types-icon-word-mark-combinationSome designers believe you can get the best of both worlds by combining a word mark with a symbol. The thinking goes:

  • The symbol and the mark give people two cues to memory
  • The symbol can communicate a message that supports the name
  • If the name is not particularly unique, adding a symbol can make it easier to copyright.

Unfortunately, too many symbols attached to brands are just random generic shapes. Perhaps the designers have some arcane explanation of what the symbols mean, but can the average consumer perceive the story behind those blips in the Blackberry logo. Too often even the biggest brands with huge budgets cop out with some version of the swoosh.

Logo Style: The Emblem

Perhaps a better approach for some companies is to make their name an intrinsic part of the symbol—creating an iconic emblem of the brand. This approach:

  • Creates an icon that is supported by the name
  • Is easy to use—many product brands use this approach to stamp their products like a cattle brand
  • It’s compact
  • It’s self-contained—the meaning and the name are one entity—not a word and a widget

This approach works best for short names. For all it’s benefits, it can be inflexible.