Text (Font & Typographic) Logos
Font logos look simple but present design challenges[Example logo: Details here] Text based company logos are the simplest (and favored by a good chunk of Fortune 500 corporations) designs but can be enormously difficult to design – a designer is limited in the ‘tricks of the trade’ that are available and when using ‘off-the-shelf’ fonts & typography, your logo runs the risk of being uninspiring.
Conversely, a memorable logo font can help ‘brand’ your name and is easy to reproduce on a wide variety of promotional items and marketing material, as well as being almost universally adaptable to the merchandise readily available. If we were to boil everything down to the main advantage of font-based logos it would be this – rather than promoting the image or theme of your business, the logo markets your company name, and helps makes it memorable to potential clients and customers. Naturally, it helps if the name featured as the main focus of the logo is unique – if your company name is ‘run of the mill’ it’s probably better to develop an iconic design or use an illustrative approach in your logo development.
Letter spacing & kerning.
The most important aspect of a text logo (other than the font selected) is effective letter spacing, known in the design industry as “kerning.” Whenever words are typed into any design software package, the program takes an educated guess at how close each letter should be to its neighbor. These are only preprogrammed estimates – some fonts have different kerning parameters, and some programs do it better than others (Microsoft Word – though it was never intended to create logos with – is the worst, Adobe Illustrator is better, though not perfect.)
Keep in mind that what looks good on your monitor may not look so good when enlarged to billboard size. The only way to effectively space typography is by ‘eyeball’ and by hand (that’s why you need someone with graphic design training in the first place.) Some letter combinations – V & A for example – require tighter spacing than say, M & N. Setting up correctly spaced typography is critical – poorly spaced letters will register in the viewer’s minds eye as a sloppy or amateur logo, even if they can’t quite put their finger on what’s wrong. That also applies to the ‘tag line’ of your design. These are the group of words, usually small, under the logo that generally describe what the featured company does, or how good they are at doing it. And while we’re talking about fonts, if you’re going to use off-the-shelf fonts (a perfectly acceptable solution despite what some design purists might say) there are certain type faces that were never meant to be used as display. Chancery Script is one. Papyrus was nice, a few thousand logos ago and before everyone and their dog decided they wanted a “tribal looking” logo. A quick search of Google will show people’s opinion about Comic Sans, though designers’ hatred for that font still perplexes me. As far as the number of fonts, always best to keep that to a minimum – a logo (and tag line) with anything more than two font styles risks looking like a ransom note.
What fonts ‘say.’
In terms of the type of fonts used, for practical purposes your options are unlimited but by understanding a little about what fonts ‘say’, you can communicate aspects of your company through the type of typography used in your logo. A serif font – Times Roman for example – has a conservative, traditional flavor, while a san-serif font tends to indicate a more modern identity. Italic fonts, slanted to the right, can indicate speed while, and conversely, fonts slanted to the left – generally not a good idea – can indicate hesitation.
Adding a flourish.
How your company name is presented is also important – all lower case lettering can be indicative of an internet or web-based entity. Font or text logos can always be ‘jazzed up’ with shields, backgrounds or other design flourishes that help something that carves out a little space in the marketing landscape. Bottom line – if your new company identity is font driven, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. See the text logos in our logo gallery for more examples.
✓ Favored by Fortune 500 companies and corporations (i.e. Microsoft.)
✓ Faster to visually ‘absorb’ (requires memorable name.)
✓ Recognition of logo also involves the NAME of the entity portrayed.
✓ More likely to be recognized later after limited initial exposure.
✓ More appropriate for ‘conservative’ companies.
✓ Can utilize spot color, or black and white reproduction effectively.
✓ Ease of color editing.
✓ Can be reproduced on most media without any modifications.
✓ Can be reproduced on low resolution media (FAXs, cheques) while remaining recognizable.
✓ Can usually be reproduced in a variety of color combinations.
✓ Easily converted to black and white (one color or halftone.)
✓ Usually lends itself to either basic logo animation or 3D animation.
✓ Is more likely to be recognized when reproduced at small sizes, or from distances.
✓ Simple for logo embroidery and requires smaller stitch count per impression.
✓ Very little technical knowledge is required for most traditional reproduction.
❌ Difficult to create ‘unique’ logo font stylings that do not look ‘off-the-shelf.’
❌ Less ‘ah-ha’ factor than illustrative or iconic.
❌ Requires very experienced GRAPHIC designer with understanding of typography.
❌ Less likely to be a trademarked logo (unless made up from unique verbiage.)
❌ Less likely to be popular on wearables (without massive exposure.)
❌ Less likely to illustrate the function of the company or product (may require tag line.)
❌ Does not permit logo variations (i.e. aspect ratios for various placements.)
❌ Unlikely to ‘stand out’ if featured in conjunction with iconic and/or illustrative logos.
Examples of typographic and wordmark logos.
Other logo types:
Iconic logos generally feature highly simplified graphics (symbols) that reflect an aspect of the company and/or product portrayed. They can be used solo, or with text. This form of logo is perhaps the most common (a slim margin over graphical), yet often the most difficult to design and requires the services of an experienced designer. These logos are most effective when your design is to be featured at a small size, or in low-resolution reproduction..
Graphic logos are, in the practical sense, somewhere between an iconic and illustrative logotype. These logotypes are very visually appealing – detailed enough to be recognizable, yet linear and technically simple enough to translate into most media usages. It’s a ‘toss up’ between graphical and iconic logos as to which is the most popular and/or common..
Illustrative logos are usually more detailed and complex than graphical, and are a pictorial (illustration) representation of some aspect of the company or product portrayed. This can be the name, the business concept or a character/mascot. While sometimes frowned upon by graphic design purists, if handled correctly an illustrative logotype can become a unique marketing and promotional tool and works well on many types of marketing materials including wearables..
Keep in mind..
The categories presented in this section are meant as an overview and generalization of the infinite possibilities. As in all manners of creative design, there are no absolutes and this area is meant for reference only. Should you require assistance in selecting the right type of logo for your business, company or service, contact our client support.
Design Help 10/44
Logo Design Help Center
A collection of helpful and informative tutorials for designers, do-it-yourselfers and anyone interested in branding their company.
Logopalooza!A free digital magazine about logos and design. Examples, case studies, news, trivia and more. No subscription required, just come and get it. Logopalooza! 4 currently shipping. L5 available May 6.
Learn more about logos, design & branding: