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Logomark or Logotype: Differences and which should you choose?

Logomark or Logotype: Differences and which should you choose?

The difference between a logomark and a logotype ultimately comes down to format. A logomark is an image, whereas a logotype is text-based. That doesn't mean the two are mutually exclusive. 

You can easily incorporate the two to make a logo that grabs and keeps people's attention. But is it the best way forward? We're looking at some of the most influential logo design trends to see what you can do to make an effective logo for your business.


Famous Logotypes

A logotype has a lot of pros and cons to its concept. Typography is typically used to convey a more “serious” or “formal” brand, like those for lawyers, banks, etc. But they also can be used to convey a more serious tone. 

An internet café aims for remote business workers rather than cutesy cups of tea and sandwich-loving stay-at-home mums. A barber is looking to be more modern, slick, and stylish rather than offering the old-fashioned red and white stripes.

This is because logotypes typically take some of the symbolism out of the logo, but not all of it. Text, after all, is also up for interpretation but not quite at the same level as imagery. We use double entendres all the time, and someone creating a logotype will know to use the connotations of a word to create a good name. 

Apple is a good example there. An apple is seen as a symbol of religious imagery, with Adam and Eve, health due to its nutritional value, and, in this case, a symbol of technological innovation, due to its role in Isaac Newton developing his theory of gravity.


Logomarks Famous

A logomark is also up for interpretation due to the highly subjective manner of imagery but is also a lot easier to create and manipulate. 

If you were to shrink text, especially cursive, onto a phone screen, you would have trouble reading it all. This is why many logos are made especially for small spaces and usually feature an image or the first letter of the brand name, like Facebook or Netflix.

A mix of the two?

Starbucks Emblem Logo Design

Of course, a logo that would tick both boxes would incorporate text and images. An example of this, until 2011 anyway, would have been Starbucks, which had its name surrounding its distinctive green and white mermaid imagery. 

Another example would be BMW, which incorporates another logo, Bavaria's blue and white flag and the Bavarian aircraft engineering company Rapp Motorenwerke logo but adds the BMW to build on the past. 

And then there's Red Bull, which always matches its name, no matter the context, with an image of two red bulls about to lock horns. Sometimes simplicity is the most potent marketer.

The rules of an effective logo

Burger King And Mcdonalds Logos

Whether you're going for a logomark or a logotype, there are certain rules you should follow to ensure that you create an effective brand logo.

It should be clear with a glance, at least in the beginning. The most prominent companies in the world have logos that wouldn't exactly give away what they are all about with a glance, but they have the lore of their past marketing to help inform that. 

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For example, Mcdonald's has “the golden arches” as the M in Mcdonald's. That doesn't immediately say “fast food”, perhaps fries, but their well-documented history of having premises with golden arches making the restaurants instantly recognisable informs the logo.

If you aren't one of your industry's most extensive worldwide global conglomerates, you might have to be more evident in depicting what you offer. 

Twitter's symbol is a bird. You make a noise; it's out there for the world to absorb, like a songbird in the morning. There's something unashamed about it, much like Twitter's users.

And then there are the ones in between that use symbolism to get their points across. Mustang's symbol is, well, a mustang: “A free-roaming horse of the Western US”, according to Wikipedia. 

Ford, an American car company, says that its Mustangs represent freedom, fast-moving masculine beauty, and of course, The American Way.

The second rule is to keep your logo simple. If not for the fact that they are simply more aesthetically pleasing that way, then for the practical effects. 

You should stick your logo to just about every piece of marketing you engage in, from billboards that light up Times Square to a half-centimetre-sized corner logo on a mobile screen. 

No matter what they are or where they are, they should be easy to decipher instantly, and their symbolism still makes sense.


However, to go back to Starbucks for a moment, maybe the third rule is simply doing what you feel is best. What a twin-tailed green mermaid has to do with coffee is anyone's guess. And its name would sound like a Hollywood Boulevard tourist trap out of context.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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