Logos in the form of words or letters
have natural properties that make them visually effective: (see also logos article)
- Good recognition
- Good descriptiveness
- Good presence
Tip: When designing a logo, carefully
consider the merits of text-only, and whether a pictorial symbol is
likely to add value.
Words clearly denote meaning, as they
require hardly little mental interpretation, even compared to iconic
symbols. Our brains are used to picking out and interpreting strong
words, as they do so hundreds of times every day.
When the whole logo is a meaningful
word, the whole logo carries meaning. This is very economical, with a
high ratio of visual activity to value.
Standalone text naturally fills all
the space it occupies. Also, remember fonts are designed with visually
consistent weight and contrast, meaning much of the work to make your
design visually consistent has already been done for you.
Powerful for new brands
These logotypes have a lot to offer
new brands, mainly for their high recognition factor.
A great example of a text-based logo
from a new
brand. Says it simply, and with quality.
Established brands can fall back on
iconic symbols (e.g. McDonalds' golden arches / Halifax's 'X' / Blue
Cross-Blue Shield's emblem / British Airways' ribbon), as they have
invested a lot of time and money behind putting those icons in place.
New brands can not have that much
time and money invested from day one, so it is hard to make a symbol
carry much value for the consumer. In these situations the natural
meaning in words can be very helpful. A brand identity can always be
redesigned at a later date, introducing a new icon (e.g. BT-Cellnet's
What's wrong with symbols?
There's nothing wrong with symbols as
logos. The McDonald's M, Nike's swoosh and Apple's apple are all
powerful icons, which can stand alone. But they only have meaning
because of our long experience with those brands.
For new brands, or re-designed brands
that don't have high existing visibility in their markets, symbolic
logos can be weaker than word-based logos, because they do not have the
natural characteristics described above.
On the other hand, symbols can be
powerful when they are iconic, i.e. they make use of established signs
that represent something the viewer already knows and understands.
Iconic symbols are effective
cognitive shortcuts: such as scales representing justice, house
representing the home and family, umbrella representing protection etc.
Many of the most established brands
use either a text-based logotype alone, or a text logo and symbol logo
that can be used independently (e.g. Nike and Apple).
All logos are the trademarks and
copyright of their respective owners, and are represented here for
purposes of education.