Logotype or Logomark: What’s the difference?

27 October 2019

Logotype or Logomark: What’s the difference?

Starting a business is stressful enough. Then advisers throw new ideas and vocabulary at you. Regardless of what you sell or service you offer, you’ll find yourself trying to navigate the waters of marketing image. Your path to branding means dealing with recommendations to choose a Logotype or Logomark.

Logotype or logomark? There’s a big difference in understanding and purpose, and it can keep you up at night. You’re not alone in this confusion, but if you don’t get your head around these terms, you will continue the confusion. And, this may fail the business and/or cost you money.

If you are entering the market or redesigning the logo you’ve been using, you should understand the difference.

So, what’s the difference?

For starters, a logotype is designed around the organization’s name or initials. Coca-Cola’s logotype may be the most recognised commercial image in the world. This is also true of Visa and Google among others. In various fonts, scripts, and colours, these stylised words have become icons. Some refer to logotypes as word marks or letter marks.

Other memorable logotypes belong to FedEx, ebay, and IKEA.

However, a logomark relies on an image or symbol. Some designers call logomarks are pictorial logos or logo symbols. For example, an Apple with a bite out of it appears on every Apple product, and this logomark has a universal appeal compared to DELL’s more subdued logotype. Target’s symbol and Twitter’s bird have the same impressive effect.

The Nike and the Under Armor logomarks are among the most ubiquitous icons in the world.

Any business would envy the success of these organizations. It’s difficult to say which path is best. But if you work with a branding designer, you should know the difference between a logotype and a logomark.

Making it more confusing is the success of some hybrid marks. For instance, the Target symbol often appears with the company’s name in the text. McDonald’s arches will show up with the name in text. And, Shell’s oil symbolic Shell may display with its name in text.

One size won’t fit all!

Things and trends are always changing. As businesses encounter more competition and expand their global reach, they must consider how context affects their branding decisions.

Logos that work on large print media or signage may not work on business cards or letterhead. Any choice must work well on digital media in vertical and horizontal formats. It must not offend any cultural region. And, it should respect traditional approaches. For instance, law firms use their partners’ names in their business name. Working that into unique text or symbol is challenging.

To clarify, if someone suggests logotype, you should think text. If you’re talking logomark, you should image a picture. And, if the designer asks what you want to do, you can always go for a hybrid.

 

Pros and cons of logotype:

Any logotype is text-based. I will include words, letters, initials, monograms, the business name, or a signature. As a device, it promotes name recognition, and because it has been associated with legacy approaches to branding, it often the choice of “old line” and formal businesses like banks, medical practices, and financial institutions.

Making this work isn’t easy. There is no magic in the text unless it is prepared in a typographic style matching the company’s identity and message. For example, a bold and black font would fit a stable, strong, and respected company. However, bright and colourful text brand casual and hip company.

The challenge for the logo designer lies in creating a shape in colour, size, and style that matches the text and its intended message. The Visa logotype cants slightly to the right to suggest the speed and convenience in using Visa. Coca-Cola has suffered losses every time it has tried to reconfigure its classic cursive script. And, the Google name uses a clean crisp font in multiple alternating primary colours.

Pros

  • Traditional, formal, and classic
  • Strong name recognition
  • Good brand awareness
  • Potential for puns and wordplay

Cons

  • Won’t fit every location or purpose.
  • Fewer opportunities for clever fun
  • Doesn’t fit difficult or long names.
  • Classic fonts age and lose effect.
  • Eliminates brand confusion.
  • Some letters have more creative potential than others.

Logotypes are best for certain brands: 

  • Logotypes are recommended for certain brands. They announce and communicate the business name the business wants customers to remember.
  • Some business owners want to disclose what they do.
  • Others want to include a slogan in the logo. For example, PayPal says, “Because you have to…” and sometimes Nike adds “Just do it!” to its swoosh.
  • Law firms and banking will use logotypes because symbols alone won’t send their message.
  • There are brands like Ford, IBM, and Rolls Royce that leverage their established names.
  • And, businesses want to convey the established, formal, and classic image.

Designing the perfect logotype:

  1. You’ll need an in-depth understanding of typography. There is an art to combining kerning, leading, ligatures, and strokes effectively. It might help to read The 5 Main Type Fonts and What to Do with Them!
  2. Consider the psychology of and research into the effects of colour choice. For more on this, you might check How To Choose the Best Logo Colours.
  3. Test the logotype at different sizes and in different applications to make sure it always works.
  4. Create a monochromatic version of the logotype for printing your logo on paper, or collateral marketing materials.

 

Pros and Cons of logomark:

Creating an iconic sign takes thought and talent. To stand out in your field or across the globe, to burn your brand into consumer mindsets, you need something special. Your business needs something unique and singular. In the right designer’s hands, a logomark can put your product or service on the map or even reverse the way people view your entire brand identity.

Logotypes use the force of language while logomarks optimise visual communication. Again, there is a tested psychology of shapes and images.

  • Rounded or curved geometric shapes suggest continuity and ease.
  • Squared, rectangular, and angled forms evoke a sense of stability and confidence.
  • Abstract shapes can offer something quirky or fun.
  • And, white space is a space to use, after all.

Of course, you can always use a popular image because it has some familiarity. Owls suggest wisdom; cats seem mysterious; dolphins are joyous; lions roar mightily; and, elephants remember. Other standard images include stop signs, arrows, doors, and more. Using pictures can also help explain what your business does, with an illustration to broadcast your services.

Pros

  • Personalised and unique
  • Strongly creative
  • Pictures worth 1,000 words
  • Potential for puns and wordplay
  • Eliminates brand confusion.
  • Flexible in application
  • Can be enlargec or compressed.

Cons

  • Perception may slow recognition.
  • Requires exceptional skills.
  • Risks familiarity.

Logomarks are best for certain brands:

  • Some icons equal their business name: Apple’s apple, Penguin’s penguin, or Target’s target.
  • They can reconfigure an existing brand with a radical new twist.
  • A logomark’s symbol can communicate what the business does.
  • And, there are medical, legal, and currency symbols to use with medical practices, law firms, and financial businesses.

Designing the perfect logomark:

  1. Do your homework. You must review the icons and symbols in use, especially those used by the competition. You want one that speaks to you the way you want your customers to hear.
  2. Combine images and/or shapes. For instance, you might shape letters into an image.
  3. Shoot for consistency between the brand message and its appearance. A conservative formal geometry will not sell children’s clothes. 

 

Pros and Cons of hybrid logos:

Combining a logotype and logomark into a combination mark brings together the best of both. You could lose the advantage of the logotype or logomark, but there’s nothing wrong with having multiple logos for different applications if they have consistent power.

Pros

  • Boosts name recognition
  • Creative in word and image
  • Benefits of both

Cons

  • Usually larger than you useful
  • Awkward in certain layouts

Hybrids are best for certain brands:

  • Previously unknown or weakly recognised brands will want a robust identity.
  • Established brands periodically rebrand to include contemporary trends and fashion.
  • Sometimes a brand sees a new value in combinations.

Choosing the best — logotype, logomark, or hybrid for your brand requires research, creative talent and time. Working with our professional graphic designers is guaranteed to get you great results!. 

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