The Three Main Types Of Logos with Examples

Custom Logo Design, Helpful Articles


You have much versatility when it comes to logo design. First you select how you want your company name to be spelled, then the dominant colours you’d like to use, then a logo type. Really there are just 3 main types of logos, but they have 8 ‘sub-categories’ under them that give you even more options. To make ordering a logo easier, we’ll go through the logo types to help you better understand your options, and ultimately help you describe what you want for your logo.

The 3 main categories are more or less an industry standard, and every logo designer form the small logo company to the high-end logo boutique will understand your request when you say “I want type x“. The child-categories however have different names and are not necessarily used by all companies. The main types are: LogoType, also known as a WordMark, an Icon or Symbol Mark type and a Combination Mark, where the two combine in a character or emblem.

1. LogoType aka WordMark

The main design element is the manipulation of font. This could mean using a unique font-face, or a pattern, or a colour. As with any logo, it’s important for it to be memorable and easily recognizable, but the style carries a lot of meaning. Cursive fonts tend to communicate elegance and prestige. Think or bold fonts inspire the association of strength and security. Handwritten logo fonts make the company or organization look friendly and fun. And, italicized fonts create the feeling of motion and change.

Traditional (LogoType or WordMark Type)

logotype wordmark logo type example

Here are some successful conventional WordMark Logo Types that you are bound to recognize. The lines in, and the thick font of IBM inspire confidence and maybe make you think of lines of code. Coca Cola logo is just iconic now. When you see it, you probably think of a cool beverage that makes you happy, and not of a multi-billion dollar organization.

Web 2.0 (LogoType or WordMark Type)

web2.0 logo type example

You’ve seen these logos too. These Web 2.0 WordMark Logo Types are industry giants. Notice the similarities between eBay and Google – colourful and friendly. The Yahoo logo, if you remember it, has a similar style. The letters are not a bit all over the place like the eBay logo. You’ll see a lot of similarities in the logos of companies that start around the same time. There is a certain style that seems to spread. It could be the use of colour, or bubbly letters, or gradients, or outlines etc.

2. Icon or Symbol

These are great, because if the consumer can recognize your company from just a symbol, you know you’ve made it big. A lot of money is spend on this kind of brand recognition, so test yourself, and see how much of a consumer you are by scrolling down and viewing the logo examples below. How many Icon or Symbol logos do you recognize?

Pictorial (Icon or Symbol Type)

pictorial logo type example

The Pictorial Logo Type is usually self explanatory. You won’t guess what the company is about just by looking at it, but you will usually guess the name of the company. Apple changed it’s logo in an effort to stay fashionable (it was a multi-colour logo before), but you still recognize it. Consumers know they can trust an electronic devise that has that little icon on it. Similarly consumers have a strong opinion about the purity of fuel that can be purchased from a gas station that has the Shell Logo.

Abstract (Icon or Symbol Type)

abstract logo type example

Sometimes there is a reason to the madness, but other times the Abstract Symbol Logo Type is completely arbitrary. Why does Mitsubishi have that triangular logo? Why does the Olympic logo use circles and not squares or those particular colours to represent the continents? There is undoubtedly some explanation, but usually it’s made as an afterthought.

Letter (Icon or Symbol Type)

letter logo type example

It is much easier for the consumer to remember the name of a company when the a letter is used. Sure now it’s unimaginable that you don’t remember “Nike” when you see their “Swoosh Logo”. But if it was a brand new company and you weren’t bombarded by their product everywhere, it would have been much easier for you to remember their name if you had the first letter (Like New Balance). Enter the Letter Logo Type. It’s still a symbol logo type, but the emphasis is to make the first letter or initials into an icon. Can you think of anyone else using M TV’s “M”, or can you think of any other company name that has the McDonalds “M”? That same letter styled differently became iconic!

Character (Icon or Symbol Type)

character logo type example

If you’re a sports fan, you can definitely think of a few mascots that represent their teams. Similarly companies and organizations have a Character Logo Type that they use for their ads, commercials and other promos. It often helps identify with the company, or it’s another way for the company to provoke a certain feeling or emotion in the audience. You’ll be full of energy and will radiate health if you eat Frosted Flakes. You will participate in the protection of (cute) endangered species if you support the World Wildlife Fund. It’s nice when the organization has an identifiable face, and it’s usually more memorable than a symbol.

3. Combination Mark

When you combine a symbol and the company name, you get a Combination Mark Logo Type. These types of logos often give a company that much more power over the message they are sending. So for example if your company sells stickers for kids, a logo that’s both written in a friendly font AND has an icon that looks like the “Happy Face” sticker will be very memorable in your industry. And a whole lot more than just a symbol for a sticker, or just the name “StickIts” in a friendly font. If your primary distribution was online; the font-face could reflect one of the latest Web 2.0 styles too.

Traditional (Combination Mark Type)

combination logo type example

You can separate the company name from the Combination Logo Type, or you can place the symbol on its own, but either way “KFC” without Colonel Sanders, or the Jaguar, without the words “Jaguar” below it will just look incomplete.

Emblem (Combination Mark Type)

emblem logo type example

The Emblem Logo Type has an even stronger link between the imagery and the words than the Tradition Combination Mark. I don’t think a lot of people would be able to recognize the UPS logo without the words. Or even the Paramount Mountain without the company name. Definitely it will be hard for many if both the name and the stars were removed!

You have a lot of choices, and if you’re just getting your first logo made you should really give it some serious thought. Have a look around at other company logos, and pick a few that you instinctively like. Try to answer for yourself what would you like your logo to communicate to the end consumer. Once you’re ready you’ll be able to select the appropriate logo type for your company, business, organization, team, product, etc.

And whenever you want, we are always here to help – Little Guy Logos

Planning Your Logo?

As you look for a logo designer, keep in mind that a designer needs to pair creativity with great technical expertise. For example:

  • If the wrong design program is used, your logo will blur when resized.
  • If unprintable colors are used, your logo will look wrong when printed.
  • If final quality control is skipped, your logo will have costly mistakes.

Business owner trying to save a few bucks just end up paying twice to redo their logo and reprint their marketing material. Avoid surprises, by learning about impossible colors, vector graphics, and the importance of quality control. Learn more

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