Though sometimes neglected, logo design is the single most important aspect of the branding process. What would a Macintosh computer be if not for the iconic apple logo? Would Disney be the loving and whimsical brand we all know if not for the endearing Mickey Mouse? The human brain is designed to digest and retain information in its simplest form, and this is why a logo is so essential: with one picture, you define your brand, it’s voice, its message, and its persona.
There are possibly thousands of different types of logos that exist, ranging from:
Nevertheless, logo designs can be largely split into 6 different categories. Each one says something different about the brand, so choosing amongst them could not be more vital.
Word marks are 100% typography. Each mark can be customized with unique colors and styles, but they remain minimalistic at the core. Oftentimes, this is preferred and appropriate. For example, Silicon Valley brands (e.g. Google, Facebook, Uber) are well-known for their use of word marks to convey trustworthiness and a simple user-interface.
Pictorial logo designs incorporates an icon to represent the brand. The nature and character of this icon or symbol is a statement of values, which must be consistent across all platforms. For example, hood ornaments used on Mercedes or Jaguar cars are pictorial marks that convey wealth and luxury.
Abstract logos are the most minimalistic logo designs, employed to easily associate a given brand with a concise and explicit message. The classic example of a well-employed abstract mark is Nike. Their slogan, “Just Do It,” is as simple as the “swoosh” logo, and as a whole the brand comes off as candid and direct
Letter marks are often used to translate a longer brand name into a memorable acronym, such as CNN or IBM. They come in many varieties, from the simplistic (e.g. HBO) to the much more ornamented and visually stimulating logos (e.g. GE).
Emblem logos are often the most complex of the logo designs. They bring together various distinct graphic and typographic elements to form a whole and singular brand symbol. They are particularly suited toward brands that want to communicate more complex messages. The Starbucks logo was inspired by the sirens of Green mythology, which represent seductive and beautiful journeys into the unknown.
Finally, character logo designs are two-dimensional renderings of brand mascots or other affiliated personas. While similar to pictorial marks, character logos are distinguished by the vitality that they give the brand. Characters must have human qualities (i.e. able to walk and talk like people), thus transcending the disconnect between the brand and the consumer.