I spend a lifetime advising against the use of industry jargon and then I go do it myself. A client rang about updating his company logo and before I knew it out popped half a dozen terms nobody would ever use in a normal conversation. Confusion reigned. So for my own peace of mind (and yours John ;)) here’s me debunking all that logo terminology in as few words as possible. Promise.
‘Wordmark’ (aka ‘Logotype’)
This is simply a logo made up of ‘text’ (or ‘type’). Think ‘Google’, ‘Cadbury’, ‘Ray-Ban’. Irrespective of the ‘typeface’ (or ‘font’) it uses, or its colour, the logo’s effectiveness relies much on the uniqueness of the company name.
When a company name is long and composed of a number of words, first letters or initials can be used to create an abbreviated logo. Consider ‘BBC’, ‘IBM’, ‘CNN’. It’s still text, only shorter. Over time, what the letters stand for is often forgotten, and by then it doesn’t matter.
And what about ‘FedEx’, it’s neither wordmark or letter mark. It uses the first syllables of the company’s original name ‘Federal Express’. It’s also a great example of a logo with ‘hidden meaning’: the forward pointing arrow between ‘E’ and ‘x’. Check it out, clever stuff.
This is purely a ‘symbol’ or an ‘icon’. Take as examples ‘Apple’ (apple with a bite) and ‘Nike’ (swoosh). Mostly the preserve of well-established, global brands it identifies a company without words or letters. Remember though that many such logos, Nike’s for example, will have also included a wordmark for decades before…
Combine a wordmark or a letter mark with a fixed symbol, shape or icon such that the two component parts become inseparable, and you have an ‘emblem’ or ‘badge’. Think Ford (the blue oval), UPS (the brown shield), BMW (the round propeller).
‘Combination mark’ (aka ‘iconic logotype’)
Used by more than 50% of companies, a combination mark brings together a wordmark and a brandmark. Not only does it spell out the company name and directly associate it with an icon, it can also be split apart, making it more versatile.
‘Strapline’ (aka ‘tagline’)
Logos can also be underscored with a short and simple, typically 3 or 4 word phrase that helps clarify a brand’s offer, its core values or promise to the customer. Very useful if your brand’s not so well known – yet.
So with all the jargon debunked (hopefully) and all the options exposed, the type of logo you choose, its typeface, colour and strapline really does need careful consideration. Now more than ever.
It doesn’t just depend on the name of the company, it depends on the stage in a company’s evolution, the sector it operates in, the competitive landscape, the audience and the many different ways in which it’s used, in-print, on-line, social media – today and tomorrow.
It’s worth mulling it all over, and keeping it simple too 😉