It is very common to hear most people using the term “logo” to refer to the graphic and visual element that represents a brand. But in reality, this is not entirely correct. Not everything we see as a brand image is the same. Do you know what a logo is and how it is actually identified?
There are different visual elements that represent a brand, so each new branding project should be well planned before starting on the design. Keep in mind that the public will identify your brand through this visual element.
Looking at the most popular brands you will see that some have a typographic logo (with only text), while others only have an icon, and there are even those that combine the two. Throughout this article we will explain what a logo is and what types there are so you can easily identify them and choose the one that best suits your brand and corporate-identity needs.
Types of formats for a corporate image
We will now review the different logo formats that exist today to compose the visual representation of a brand from a design point of view: logo, imagotype, isotype, isologo.
A logo is a graphic symbol used to visually identify a brand, product or company. However, the logo goes beyond a simple design; it is a differentiating resource that brands use to communicate with their audience.
It is made up of words or typefaces and does not contain drawings, icons or images. A good example of a logo is Google or Coca-Cola: a stylized word with unique typography, recognizable by its audience.
An interesting fact: the Google logo was created in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2014 when the last significant redesign was carried out in order to simplify it and take it towards a more two-dimensional “flat design”, a trend that Google is completely committed to. Today it has become a good example of a simple and minimalistic logo.
This type of logo is composed of an image and a text, but with one important consideration...the text is never superimposed on the image, but instead it is placed to the side, above, or below it.
Therefore, an imagotype refers to two brand elements that when separated can be identified by the public without difficulty. However, it is common to see text and an image together. Two clear examples of such imagotypes are Adidas and Carrefour.
The Adidas image shows a geometrical, abstract shape and plays with three different shapes (one is used on tags, another in the collections and another in the categories).
This type of logo consists of only one symbol or drawing, such as the McDonald's M or the Apple apple.
This symbol must be powerful, since the user must be able to just see that image and quickly associate it with the brand. The isotype is widely used by popular brands which have a strong pull and are well positioned in the market. If not, it is difficult for the user to associate a symbol with the brand.
The isologo consists of text and an image. But, unlike the imagotype, both elements are united and cannot be separated, so the letters and images form an indivisible whole.
Although this is less frequent, we find some famous brands that use it as is the case of BMW or Burger King.
It is true that Starbuck used an isologo (name of the company and the image of the siren) from 1992 to 2011. However, they decided to give it a makeover, removing the textual part to give it a more attractive touch.
How to choose the best option for your brand
Before deciding what type of logo best fits the philosophy of your brand, it is important that you are clear about what that brand is going to be. We can't start building a house with the roof, so the first step is to be clear about what you are going to convey with your corporate identity.
This first phase involves deciding the name of your brand and, of course, registering it to avoid possible problems in the future. (Link to old post about why to register a trademark).
Once that first phase is clear, there are certain aspects you must think about in order to decide which is the best type of symbol to represent your brand.
What kind of image do you want?
It's the first question you have to ask yourself, and it's a very subjective question. Other aspects will come into play in the final decision but if the project is yours it is clear that you must take into account your own tastes and affinities.
At this point, you must decide if you want to bet on a descriptive, aspirational, emotional or inspirational logo.
Use a descriptive logo when your logo, imagotype or isologo does not clearly reflect what your identity is. Therefore, a descriptive text is added that reinforces the image and the text. For example, JL Hairdresser.
If you want to give an aspirational image, you must represent the values of your brand, as in the case of the Apple apple; where through a powerful symbol you will incite the user to aspire to that level.
On the other hand, to give an emotional image, you don't have to tell what products you sell or what your company does, but you must touch the emotions of the client. For this, graphic elements are used and the most common are imagotypes.
Finally, if you want to give an inspirational image, you can use phrases or slogans in your logo and imagotypes that inspire users to achieve their goals. Sport brands often use these, as they associate sports with personal improvement.
What message do you want to convey with your image?
The message you want to convey goes beyond your products or services. For example, in this case we refer to the values that you want users to perceive when they see your logo or imagotype.
If your company defends traditional and classic values, for example, it cannot use the same typography as if it is firmly committed to futuristic technologies. In the same way, the way in which you expect to treat the user or the business philosophy you adhere to should also be part of your logo.
What is your target audience?
Once you're clear about what a logo is and all the steps you're going to take to define yours, you should also analyse your target audience.
In the same way that your message influences the final design, so too will the users you want to attract as customers. You will have to consider the tastes of your audience and their characteristics. If it's an audience that likes sports, an inspirational logo that motivates them and not a descriptive one will surely fit well.
We are sure that all this detailed information will help you make the right decision to choose the best format for your corporate image. There are many aspects to keep in mind, but devoting time to this issue is vital to achieving an image that identifies you and is easily recognizable.
Remember that you can always count on a good designer to help you make these kinds of decisions if you are not an expert in the sector. And, don't forget, everything starts with a brand, and it must be correctly registered in order to be the basic pillar of your corporate identity.
Author: Edith Gómez