Different Kinds of Logos


A logo is an identifier. It represents a person, business, product or service. A memorable logo can create instant recognition. Depending on the industry, or how the brand wants to be viewed, a logo can fall into one of 5-7 categories. Here are the different types of logos you need to know about, and when to use them.




A freestanding acronym, or company/product name that has been designed to convey a brand attribute or positioning.


Sometimes called a logotype, a wordmark is a uniquely stylized font-based logo that focuses on a company or brand name. A catchy name combined with strong typography helps create strong brand recognition. Other examples are Visa, Google, eBay and FedEx.

When to use

If you’re a new business, or have a distinct name. Having your name in a customized font will make your brand more memorable.




A unique design using one or more letters that act as a mnemonic device for a company name.


Letterforms are great for brand names that are difficult to pronounce or have many words. Designed slightly more stylized than just a simple letter, letterforms assist with recognition, and can be used as a distinctive graphic focal point. They are easy to apply to an app icon. Other examples are Comedy Central, Under Armour, and Westinghouse.

When to use

If your business has a long name.




An immediately recognizable literal image that has been simplified and stylized.


Pictorial marks use a literal or recognizable image that is typically story-based and illustrative. The visual may allude to the name of the company or its mission. It may also be symbolic of a brand attribute. New brands need to include a name with this symbol to build recognition. When you first appear, no one knows what your symbol means. Other examples are CBS, NBC, and Target.

When to use

Great for international/global commerce if, for example, a business name doesn’t lend itself well to translation.




A symbol that communicates a story, and often embodies strategic ambiguity.


Abstract logos are a specific type of pictorial logo. Instead of being a recognizable image, it’s a complex form that conveys a big idea or a brand attribute. They take less time to process, and express ideas more effectively than words. Other examples are BP, Pepsi, and Adidas.

When to use

Great for large companies with numerous and unrelated divisions because they provide strategic ambiguity. Works well for service-based and technology companies.




A mark in which the company name is inextricably connected to a shape or form.


Emblems consist of font inside a symbol. They tend to have a traditional appearance, such as badges, seals and crests. They look great on packaging, signs, and uniforms. As mobile devices continue to shrink, the emblem presents the biggest legibility challenge when scaled down to size. Other examples are IKEA, Kind Healthy Snacks, and UNIQLO.

When to use

Great for schools, organizations or government agencies. Companies in the food and beverage industry, as well as the auto industry fair well with emblems.




A mark that involves an illustrated mascot.


Characters embody brand attributes or values. Often colorful and fun, characters quickly become the stars of ad campaigns. Characters create an identifiable face and add personality to the brand. Many characters have recognizable voices and jingles. A great way to create your very own brand spokesperson. Other examples are Energizer Bunny, Pillsbury Doughboy, and Ronald McDonald.

When to use

If you are trying to appeal to young children or families.



Please keep in mind that there are no hard rules when it comes to logo usage. While there are definitely some tried and true examples, this is more to help you identify the different types of logos out there. With the right branding and marketing campaign, you could easily make any one of these work for you.