The logo is the centerpiece of a brand identity. It’s by far the most seen asset. But do you know how many different types of authentic logos there are to choose from?
Also, logos are not just for businesses and big corporations. If you’re a personal business, like
- a life coach,
- a language teacher,
- a copywriter,
- a fitness trainer,
a well designed logo can immediately raise interest in potential clients.
Do you run live workshops?
Or online webinars?
Even such events can be branded with colours, typefaces, slogans – and an intriguing logo design.
Logos come in different forms and shapes
Walking the streets. Reading magazines. Looking at ads between the episodes of your favourite shows. You see logos – and brands – at every corner. You can’t escape it.
Some are old and have a history and long tradition. Others are brand new. Some of them are appealing, others come across as weird, at best as funny or ‘Oh my God? What could they have meant with that?’
But even such logos have achieved something. You start wondering if that’s real. And why on earth would they advertise themselves like that?
They are on your mind.
At any rate, it’s a good way for businesses to make you and their potential customers aware of their products or services.
Whether their intention results in a hat-trick (lead, prospect, customer/client) or fails utterly depends on many factors. But as it’s the logo that’s seen the most it has to bear a lot of weight of the branding package. It’s the ultimate centerpiece.
So what do you need for an authentic logo design?
It’s actually simple. Or at least it sounds simple.
If you want to DIY your own logo, start with the basics. And you only need a laptop and internet connection to deep dive into this part. Start googling to:
- get inspired,
- learn everything about logos and design principles,
- learn from others.
Once you’ve mastered this part, then you need to get familiar with the business you are creating the logo for.
- Research and understand the ideal clients of the business,
- Gather as many information as possible about the business itself.
- Don’t forget about the competition.
The logo should speak to the ideal, target audience. If possible it should:
- tell a story,
- evoke positive feelings, and
- distinguish the business from their competitors.
But don’t just get stuck with the computer. Take a walk outside, look around you with watchful eyes and you’ll see various different examples of what makes up an authentic logo.
Types of logos
You definitely will see a lot of wordmarks. Some may call them logotypes, but they are the same. It’s the most classic and is among the most common forms of logos.
What is a wordmark?
A wordmark logo relies on text only. It’s a font-based logo where the chosen typeface expresses the brand’s identity. Usually such logos focus on the name of a business, institution, or product.
Think Google, Coca-Cola, Walmart.
The word itself becomes the visual symbol. In Google’s case it even becomes a new verb and expression.
You don’t know it? Google it!
You don’t find any intricate symbols or graphics here that many would identify as the actual “logo”.
The text is often exactly literal. It states the name of the business. Period.
Sometimes even what it does, but that’s not a must.
Isn’t it too simple? To have only a wordmark logo? – you may ask.
Be assured: Even without graphic symbols or icons, you have plenty of room to express your business by intentionally choosing the
- colour scheme,
- character features,
- letter spacing, and the
- ‘shape’ of the logo.
Not all fonts and colours are equal in branding. They evoke different feelings and associations in the ideal, target audience.
The power of typefaces in logo design
Take a look at these logo concepts of a faux business for illustrative purposes. They are presented in black and white to show the power and importance of the chosen typeface.
The first version beautifully plays on the artistic side and flair of the business. It’s a bit dramatic with the thick black swirls and swashes followed by the delicate soft lines of the letters. The typeface is full of curves and softness. These feminine traits speak to its ideal female target audience. Also women like calligraphy and script based fonts.
The second version uses a typeface with some level of decoration, but it has more sharp edges and angles. The A and U resemble a shield and the M is like pillars holding an antic building’s roof. This typeface is more masculine. It associates less with a beauty salon although the exact same words have been used.
The third version is a futuristic typeface. There is no decoration, no serifs at the end of the letters, and barely any variation in letter thickness. It’s a mixture of sharp edges and some very subtle bends you can see in letters like E, B or C. It’s something you would expect on a computer screen perhaps but would definitely not want to visit a make-up artist with such a calling card. At least me as part of the target audience definitely wouldn’t.
The next type of logo is the lettermark. This is also a typography-based logo but here instead of the whole name of the company the initials represent the brand.
The lettermark is all about simplicity in its core, which is one of the telling signs of a good logo design.
A lettermark can be a monogram for your business or an anagram, drawing on the first few letters of each word of the business name.
Once again these seemingly simple lettermark logos give you many design choices. Like with the wordmarks, by pairing an appropriate font and balanced colours, you can create a unique and memorable brand for your business.
Also called as brand mark or logo symbol. It’s an icon, typically a graphic, vector based design.
It’s the image that comes to mind when you think of an “authentic logo”: the iconic Apple logo, the Twitter bird.
These brands are so established, that the mark alone is instantly recognizable and is enough to evoke all the feelings and values that the brand’s promising.
An abstract mark is a specific type of pictorial logo. Instead of being a recognizable image it’s an abstract geometric form that stands for your business.
Like the Pepsi divided circle and the strip-y Adidas flower a few years back. Today the Adidas abstract logo is is three stripes, used on the company’s clothing and shoe designs.
Logo symbols and abstract marks work well because they condense your brand into a single image.
The abstract logos allow you to create something unique to represent your brand, as they are not restricted to use an image of something that is immediately recognizable. They give space for contemplation and interpretation.
As we talked about image based logos, I have to mention also those where an illustrated character represents a company. These mascot logos are often colorful, sometimes even cartoon-like. They a great way to create a memorable ambassador for your business.
A lot of sports teams have team mascots and they are also often part of their logo. But mascots are not meant for all types of businesses. Consider your message, values and target audience first, before asking your designer for such a logo.
And you don’t need to stop here. You can combine any of the above mentioned logo types with each other.
A word mark can be combined with a mascot. A monogram logo with an abstract mark.
You name it.
Combination marks are a versatile choice where the text, icons or mascots work together defining your unique brand. Later on you may be able to rely only on a logo symbol, and not have to always include your business or product name too.
This takes though time. Those brands that reached this level of brand recognition. That are immediately recognized by their iconic marks, are in business since a long time. Their success wasn’t born overnight.
There’s an additional type of logo you’ve probably came across several times in your life. It’s often the choice for schools, government agencies or businesses in the beverage industry: the emblem.
An emblem logo consists of font inside a symbol or an icon; think
- seals and
These logos tend to have a traditional appearance about them that can make a striking impact. You can find them also in the sports industry as emblems of football teams.
Emblematic logos have a higher level of detail, and can be less versatile than the other discussed types of logos.
An intricate emblem design won’t be easy to replicate across all types of branding materials. In small, condensed spaces like a business card they could become difficult to read.
If you go for an emblem logo as your main logo, then I’d recommend to also get a secondary logo with a less complicated design that can be applied where the full emblem won’t fit nicely.
Designing your authentic logo
Now that you are familiar with all the choices at hand, you can start working on your own logo. If you need some help to know how to find the best logo for your business then read my quick guide on the topic.
Grab a pencil and a sketchbook and draw some ideas. Don’t limit yourself. The idea is to come up with as many variations as you can think of. This phase can take several hours if not days. With some breaks of course to get re-charged and inspired.
Once you are happy with your initial sketch, consider adding colours to your design. Don’t go overboard though. Use only as many colours as it makes sense.
Think about your business.
Would a colourful, decorative logo be appropriate? An accountant would benefit from a solid logo. Whereas a beauty salon could go bold. And a logo meant for an event for children can be as colorful as you want it.
The next step is to convert your logo from paper to digital. Your logo needs to be versatile. You need to be able to re-size it easily without compromising its integrity.
You achieve that by using a vector graphics editor. However tempting it may be to design in Canva or Photoshop, if you want professional results, invest into an industry standard application.