Logo Design Vs. Symbols & Combination Marks

March 29, 2017

Sparked from a very interesting conversation I had with a friend who owns an entertainment & management company. We were discussing a particular symbol that she wanted to use to promote and market her artist. I suggested that the symbol and/or logo be a good representation of the brand as well as timeless and something that is distinctive to the actual artist. 

 

But what is the difference between an actual logo design and a symbol. Both are used to identify a brand. The misuse of the word “logo” is one of those things that gets many design-minded people practically purple in the face. A logo, they say, is not the same as a symbol, which in turn is not the same as a sub mark/ combination mark. Everyone seems to have come up with their own definitions for this. So what’s the difference? A logo is a word, a symbol is a picture, and a combination  or sub mark is basically mashing up the two. But really, in most circumstances, using “logo” for everything is just fine. Although most people call any emblem that has been designed to visually represent a brand a logo, “logo” is usually taken to be short for “logotype,” which literally means “word imprint” in Greek. This is why we sometimes call logotypes “word marks.” 

(Photo Caption: @Raymoonnn @Tbtceo SXSW Conference & Festivals 2017)

 

According to this line of thinking, the only true logos are the ones that contain nothing but stylized letters, representing the literal name of a company. But logotypes have issues in a global economy because they depend upon being read, logotypes for American companies might be confusing to people who live in countries that don’t use the Latin alphabet. Sometimes, companies will modify their logotypes for different markets accordingly: Coca Cola, for example, maintains a stylistically consistent logotype in many different alphabets. These days, many companies prefer to take a more abstract approach, creating a universal symbol that abstractly represents their brand. Apple’s iconic fruit is such a symbol, (Now every time you see that symbol you think of computers, technology, innovation, iPhone) as is Airbnb’s symbol (which by the way looks just like the Automation Anywhere symbol). Other examples of symbols include the Red Cross and the Nike swoosh… 

 

In an artist case, if your logo is not yet that popular, go for really dope graphic (especially one that create awareness) then just put your name and a small logo somewhere. Make sure your designs match your personality and make sure they’re the kinds that your fans would love to have or in some cases wear. Same goes with your stickers, then plaster your graphics everywhere! 

 

Finally, there’s the combination mark. These are emblems that use a combination of both words and symbols to represent a person, company, or organization. Musicians like Michael Jackson (Crown), Drake(Owl) and companies like Starbucks, AT&T; all these brands use combination marks. Some companies use both logotypes and symbols, depending on the context. Nike, for example, has both a logotype and a symbol, which can be used to represent the company in different scenarios. The Nike swoosh by itself might work on the side of a sneaker, whereas a combination of the swoosh and the Nike logotype might look better on company letterhead, for example.

 

So I guess the number one question is “Do the distinction matter?” Really, the distinction is pedantic. A symbol may not be the same thing as a logotype, but abbreviating both logotypes and logo marks as “logos” is totally logical, because both types of logo are meant to do the same thing. In fact, symbols are often referred to logomarks for just this reason. The distinction between a symbol and a logo mark might be useful to designers, who may want to pin down what type of logo a client is looking for. I don’t think the distinction is that important, almost everyone refers to the emblematic visualization of a brand as a “logo,” even though it might be a symbol, a stylized word, or a combination of both. 

 

Below are 8 important things to consider when designing a logo. Click here to schedule a consultation!

  1. Show your Inner Self 

  2. Who is your Audience 

  3. Strong Design is Captivating 

  4. Think Different and be Unique 

  5. Less is More 

  6. Think Adaptable 

  7. Big or Small - your logo says it all 

  8. Make it Timeless