A brand identity is made up of several key elements — one of these being the classic, omnipresent ‘logo’. The word ‘logo’ is a very general term used to describe the visual signature that is applied to branded elements and is used to create and maintain a company’s reputation. This may be a combination of elements, with a mixture of symbols (brandmarks) and words (logotypes or wordmarks).
For example, Nike’s brandmark (the ‘swoosh’ or ‘tick’) is used across all materials, which in turn builds customer recognition and loyalty. To complicate things slightly, there are many versions of the Nike logo, with various versions of the swoosh is incorporated with wordmarks and logotypes for specific applications. For example, Nike Air uses both the word ‘Nike’ and ‘Air’ alongside the swoosh brandmark. This combination of elements is called a ‘logo lockup’ and gives longevity to an otherwise simple symbol that can be reproduced across print and digital media. Together, these are simply known as the Nike ‘logo’.
Brand identities are designed to be memorable, efficient, and consistent with the company’s values. Whether you are designing an original logo for a business or redesigning an existing symbol, it is important to know the difference between logos vs. logotypes vs. brandmarks — all of which play a key role in branding design and development.
– Brand logos: Brand logos typically consist of both words and images (sometimes called symbols or pictograms). They are often circular or triangular shapes that can visually symbolise a wide range of topics from innovation or dynamism to minimalism or peace. These may also represent something about the company’s product portfolio, brand proposition, culture and values. A strong brand logo should be unique and not easily confused with another logo as they are often the most recognisable element of a company’s brand identity.
– Brandmarks: A brandmark is essentially a recognisable shape that is associated with a company or brand. This term is often used interchangeably with ‘brand symbol’, ‘brand identifier’ and ‘brand stamp’. The word ‘brandmark’ comes from the act of ‘marking’ something — this is essentially where a simple symbol or shape was marked on an item to indicate ownership. For example, the Audi brandmark is a set of four rings. Each ring represents one of the four companies that came together to form the company — together they make up a unique brandmark that can be paired with the ‘Audi’ wordmark or even advertising copy. Together, the ring brandmark and the ‘Audi’ wordmark become the finished logo.
– Logotypes: A logotype or wordmark typically consists solely of words. They can be a single word, a few letters, a short sentence or a combination of all three. The important differentiator is that legible letterforms are used to make up the bulk of the logotype. There is usually a design flourish somewhere to prevent it from looking ‘typed in’; for example, ligatures or other design elements may be used to connect certain letters. Stylistically, a logotype can borrow from many typographic forms such as script lettering (the Coca-Cola logotype), blackletter (the New York Times wordmark), sans serif (Net-a-Porter), slab serif (Honda) or serif (The Guardian).
Recent examples of brand logo work include the Halley Stevensons rebrand, the Georgina Day brand creation and The Feather Company repositioning.