Designing Logos: Wordmark or Symbol?

We’re asked all the time to create logos for organizations. A logo is the single defining image of an organization that you see on every piece of branded material. Think of Apple’s ubiquitous bitten apple (a symbol) or IBM’s striped blocky letters (a wordmark). More often that not, MSLK creates typographic wordmarks rather than symbols for our clients. This is not simply a matter of preference, but there are circumstances when it is better to use one kind versus the other. Read more to find out what is appropriate for your organization.

Thinking about Your Organization

So which approach is right for you? Well, you should be thinking about your organization in terms of three basic characteristics:

1. Your Name | Is it distinctive? How long or short is it?
2. Your Size | Are you small or large? Are you a conglomerate of two or more companies?
3. Your Budget | How much money do you have to invest in promoting your identity so that people really remember it?

Using a Wordmark
Wordmarks are great for small companies, short names and/or distinctive names. At MSLK, we are always looking for opportunities to manipulate and combine letterforms or weave graphic elements within a wordmark to make it truly memorable. Check out our examples below.

Find out how we transformed this eco-friendly handbag line by creating an identity that combines upper and lower case letters, along with unique materials, to reinforce a message.

Fashion News Workshop
Discover how we branded the second largest fashion organization in NYC, by employing graphic substitution. Notice the how the button replaces the O.

Anne Edgar is a media relations firm focusing on visual and cultural arts. Learn how we capitalized on their unique name to set them apart from the competition.

James Porto
Find out how we reestablished this conceptual photographer and photo illustrator as a visionary in his field by starting with a sophisticated, minimal logotype.

Using a Symbol
Symbols become necessary when a company has a long name, is a conglomerate of two or more companies, and/or is large with the money to promote the shorthand. Check out our examples below.

Figment is an annual art’s festival that takes place on Governor’s Island. Discover how we used a thought-bubble, which became a flexible platform for them to use year after year. 

Velo Classic Tours
Learn how we conveyed the essence of this luxurious bicycle tour company with a sleek illustrative symbol.