Most, if not all, businesses want a logo, which is understandable. Having a logo for your business is a great way to visually identify your brand. But many businesses would be better served investing in a simple text-only or wordmark logo, rather than having a logo with a graphic icon.

Wordmark logo vs. graphic or symbol logo design

You may not have thought about it before, but some companies have logos with a symbol and some just have a distinct way of typesetting their company name.

Examples of wordmark logos vs. symbol or graphic logo designs

Some companies that have wordmark logos are: Tiffany & Co., West Elm, Google and Sony. These brands have a distinct way of typesetting and coloring of their company name. But unlike brands such as Target or Nike, they have no additional graphic for their logo

Benefits of a type only logo

Wordmark logos reinforce your brand name. As a new business, or any business with limited funds for marketing, getting prospects to recognize and remember your name is one of the most important factors in the succeeding. While a well-designed graphic can reinforce a name (for example with Target or Domino’s), it’s more likely that you are developing a new symbol. Educating people to associate the graphic with your brand requires additional effort.

Many companies end up with poor graphic logos. Creating a well-designed, memorable graphic symbol that accurately represents your brand image is hard! We’ve all seen too many poorly designed logos—logos that look amateurish in their design or where the concept of the design is confusing or off-target. Finding a designer able to create a strong logo can be difficult, especially when you have limited money to spend.

The hallmark of a well-designed logo is simplicity: a graphic that distills your brand essence into a distinct and simple graphic. Focusing only on your typography and colors and not trying to synthesize your entire brand into a symbol is much easier.

Wordmark logos are a better value. Understanding the challenge of creating a great graphic or icon logo, you can see why inexperienced, low-cost designers can rarely produce great results. However, hiring a full-service branding firm is likely out of your budget.

A wordmark logo can be quickly created at a lower cost with much less risk of creating a visual monstrosity.

Who can benefit from a type-only logo?

If you look at the companies that have wordmark logos there are a couple of common themes. These logos are especially useful for these circumstances:

  • Businesses with a wide variety of products or services. This is likely why companies like Tiffany’s, Crate&Barrel or West Elm have chosen this approach. Would West Elm feature a wine glass or a couch or a whole house? Would Tiffany’s feature a ring or a spoon or a candlestick?
  • Professional services businesses. Lawyers, CPAs, and business consultants often choose type-only logos because it’s so challenging to visualize what they are selling.
  • Software and other technology driven businesses. It’s difficult to visualize software or technological processes. They are sort of invisible. So Google, HP, and other brands just stick with their name or their initials.
  • Businesses whose offerings will change. If you are in a rapidly changing field you probably don’t want to create an icon based on what you do or sell now, because it may quickly look out of date. For example, if Apple had chosen to feature their first computer as part of their logo, it would have felt out-of-date very quickly.

If you look at this list, you may realize that many new businesses or startups fit in here. Even if you are not a software or service-based business, it’s highly likely that what you are selling will change (fairly quickly) over time. We are in rapidly changing times, which means who you sell to, how you sell or how your market your business will continue to change, probably in ways that are difficult to even imagine now.

Does anyone really need a graphic logo?

In my experience, new business owners are thrilled about getting their logo designed. There are a lot of challenges with setting up a new businesses that involve boring stuff with lawyers, accountants and bankers. Getting your logo designed is fun! But don’t let that distract you from looking critically at whether a logo icon is really going to benefit your business.

Having a symbol designed for your logo may be a good option when the logo will be a critical element of the visual brand or marketing strategy. A visual icon can also be a memorable short hand for a long business name.

Remember, you can always add a graphic symbol to a wordmark later. Once your business model, product offerings or ideal customers are little more fixed, you can enhance your visual style with an icon.

Traits of a great wordmark logo

There are four parts of well-designed type logo:

  • Choosing the right font
  • Distinct typesetting
  • Aligning the elements
  • Choosing the right color

The best font. A memorable and well-designed type-only logo is more than sitting down in Microsoft Word and typing in your business name. You’ll want to carefully choose the right font that represents your brand image. Are you high-energy or more quiet? Are you traditional or modern?

You may want to mix more than one font together, especially if you have a long business name (see the Five Guys logo). This will make the end result more unique.

Typesetting the font. When a professional designer creates a logotype, they do more than just pick a font and size. They look carefully at the spaces between letters (kerning and tracking) to ensure the logo is readable and feels like a polished graphic.

You can also make a wordmark logo more memorable by trying out different capitalization (all caps, small caps, all lowercase, etc). Different parts of the logo may feature different type styles.

Aligning the elements. If you have a one-word business name, it’s simple. But if you have a longer business name (especially with multiple words) you may find it’s too wide if it’s typeset in one line. So, you will stack the different words. Deciding whether they are centered, justified or left aligned will affect the overall design.

Choosing the right color. Color is an incredibly important part of building out a visual style for your brand. Colors can create emotional responses and will reinforce the vision for your brand. Whether you choose one color or multiple colors, figure out the exact colors and then use them precisely every time.

Create the right graphic files

Once you have all this done, convert the design into fixed graphic files.

You don’t want to be typing out your logo each time. It should be a fixed graphic like a jpg, gif or eps file. You can upload the jpg file as a social media profile image or use your eps file on your business card. With these graphic files, your logo will look exactly the same every time you use it.