The different types of logos

Learning the names of all the different types of logos is not the most important thing to focus on when you start out designing logos, you will pick it up eventually, although, as with anything else, knowing the terminology will make you sound more professional, which can be beneficial when communicating with clients.

Acquiring general knowledge of the different types of logos is valuable, as you will have a better understanding of which type of logo is ideal for your next project. Depending on who you ask the number of types will vary greatly. Some people like to think about types of logos more generally, while others divide certain types into separate, more specific types. I want this article to be as comprehensive as possible, so I will be looking at more specific types, and go through 10 different types of logos.

So take notes, or bookmark this page for future reference, and let’s dive into the topic.

Brand mark / Logo symbol / Logo icon / Pictorial mark

Brand marks are logos consisting of an icon or a graphic symbol that tends to be quite simple, usually depicting a real-life object. Often times a brand mark is very literal, like in the examples below. Brand marks are mostly used by well established and well-known companies and are used alongside a version that also displays the company name next to it, called a combination mark. A brand mark is what most people think about when they hear the word “logo”, and it’s the result of a company reaching high enough levels of recognition, to be able to leave out their company name and still be recognized by their brand mark alone.

Designing a logo for a new, or lesser known company, it is advised not to go straight for a brand mark. If the intent is to, at some point in the future, have a brand mark, you should start out with a combination mark. If the company reaches the required level of recognition, you can detach the company name from the symbol, and use it as a brand mark then.
Picking the right symbol for a brand mark, or combination mark is very important. Even though rebranding is a possibility, a company usually keeps the core element or symbol of their original logo, so be cautious of what you choose.

Examples of brand marks: Apple, Shell, Target

Abstract logo mark

An abstract logo mark is really just a subcategory of a brand mark and in reality not so much a type of logo, as just a specific design style to an already existing type. The only real difference between a brand mark and an abstract logo is that the brand mark is usually depicting a real object and not an abstract shape. Most people will refer to an abstract logo as a brand mark, but since you will often see a logo referred to as an abstract logo, I thought I would include it in this list, regardless of it basically being the same as a brand mark.

Examples of abstract logo marks: Pepsi, Nike, BP

Mascot logo

A mascot logo is a type of logo that is particularly popular in sports, especially hockey, basketball, football, and esports, but is also used frequently within the food industry.

Mascot logos consist of some sort of character, animal or person. In sports, animals are popular because of their well-known characteristics. A cobra is flexible and venomous, a cheetah is agile and fast and a bull is strong and fierce. A mascot for a team is usually designed to strike fear in their opponents, and make the team look strong. Within the food industry, however, mascots are usually chosen to be very family friendly and welcoming, and will often be used as the main character to promote a product or restaurant.

Having a mascot logo also creates an obvious opportunity to have a real mascot, which is popular at sports events, or occasionally visiting your local restaurant.

Examples of mascot logos: KFC, Pringles, Boston Celtics

Wordmark / Logotype

A wordmark is a text-based logo created by a custom designed font or an already existing font with modifications made to it. It puts the name of the company in focus, thus creating name recognition, and this type of logo works great with shorter company names, usually, but not limited to, one-word names. Catchy and unique names are also a great fit for a wordmark logo, while longer names or names that might prove difficult to pronounce would be less ideal as wordmarks.

Wordmarks might be the most common type of logo and are often perceived as “easy to design” by people not working in the design field, but creating a unique and memorable wordmark is far from easy.

Examples of wordmarks: Visa, Kellogg’s, FedEx

Lettermark / Monogram

A lettermark is a subcategory of wordmarks, and basically the same, the difference being that a lettermark does not consist of the full company name, rather an abbreviation of it, which is also why it’s often referred to as a monogram

Using a lettermark is a great option for companies with long names, or names that are hard to pronounce. The only visual difference between a wordmark and a lettermark is the width, as a lettermark usually consists of fewer letters, normally around 2-4.

Examples of lettermarks: HBO, ESPN, IBM

Letterform logo

The final type of text-based logo is the letterform, which is simply an even more specific subcategory of the wordmark, than the lettermark is.
This type of logo consists of a single letter, and is often times more stylized than wordmarks and lettermarks, as using a single letter requires the font to be more unique.

Not only is a letterform logo a subcategory of wordmarks and lettermarks, but it is also a subcategory of brand marks. Much like abstract logos, a letterform logo can be considered to be more of a specific style of a brand mark, than it’s own type of logo. Because of this, you will rarely see this type of logo referred to as a letterform, but instead either a lettermark or a brand mark.

Examples of letterform logos: McDonalds, Adobe, WordPress

Emblem logo

An emblem logo consists of a company name and a graphical element confined within a shape, think crest, seal or badge. It’s more detailed than the other types of logos, making it less versatile, so you need to make sure how the logo will be used so this does not end up being an issue.

An emblem logo often has a traditional feeling to it and will make your company look well-established, and as if it has been around for centuries. This type of logo can be found in schools, government agencies, very traditional companies, beverage brands and more.

Examples of emblem logos: Starbucks, Harley-Davidson, NFL

Dynamic Logo / Flexible Logo

Dynamic logos are rare and seldom designed as a dynamic logo originally. Usually, a dynamic logo started off as another type of logo, and at some point, when the company or brand grew and became well recognized, the logo was transformed into a dynamic logo. It’s a very adaptable logo, that can be changed to fit into any context, either by changing the color, font or graphical elements. Google, as shown below, might be the logo that has the most variations made to it, but other examples of dynamic logos would be MTV, Nickelodeon, and AOL.

Examples of a dynamic logo by Google

Responsive logo

Responsive logos are designed to work in multiple environments, and is basically several versions of the same logo, not like a dynamic logo, but simplified versions of itself. The base logo might be very detailed, display the company name, as well as their slogan. The level of complexity and detail doesn’t work well if scaled down beyond a certain point, so multiple version is made, to fit different sizes. Whenever the base logo no longer works, a simplified version of it replaces it. The number of versions and level of simplification varies. At first, the slogan might be removed, then the company name shortened, and lastly, the company name is removed entirely, leaving only the symbol.

This type of logo works very well for companies with a big presence and needs to be visible in large scale, perhaps on outdoor signs and banners, as well as online, where a tiny icon on social media platforms is the only space available.

Examples of a responsive logo by Walt Disney

Combination mark

I have already mentioned the combination mark several times throughout this article, and alongside wordmark logos, this is probably the most used type of logo. The majority of combination marks consists of a brand mark and a wordmark, although the wordmark part will usually be simpler than that of a standalone wordmark, and is often made up by an already existing font, rather than a custom created one.
A combination mark is not simply a brand mark and wordmark combined, it can be any combination of types, and as was mentioned in the section about brand marks, a combination mark is usually created for a company, and later turned into a brand mark.

Examples of combination marks: Burger King, Lacoste, Taco Bell

Like I already stated earlier, you don’t need to sit down and memorize the names of each type of logo. Most of them are quite self-explanatory, and you can even group them together into bigger categories, as many people do, to make them easier to remember. You can always come back to this article to refresh your memory on these if needed.