A logo can be completely text free but there are some limitations. One of those limitations is that without language in your logo you rely completely on the design to convey the message. Sometimes you don’t want the logo to reference your product, you want your logo to represent your brand.
Let’s pretend we’ve never seen this iconic logo in our life. Would you know they sell athletic apparel? Probably not, but that’s because they’ve spent decades refining the image into a brand. Now this is fantastic, but what if I run a bakery? I want people to know I run a bakery immediately. Perhaps I use a loaf of bread as my logo or maybe a nice tasty looking muffin. However, if I don’t want to use baked goods in my logo I can always rely on words to convey the message. Adding the word Bakery to my preferred design might be enough.
So that brings up our primary topic of discussion. Text in a logo can come in a variety of forms but there are three we are going to focus on here.
– Text Only logos
– Text + Design logos
– Text AS Design logos
Let’s look at Text Only logos first.
The above logos are incredibly recognizable. They are just names in text but somehow they carry so much more weight. They are deceptively simple. However, this approach requires very careful advertising and consistent use to create a recognizable logo out of just text. Note that the logos still conform to a shape as well. There is still symmetry at play here.
In the next group of logos we see text incorporated into the design. These are examples of logos where the design and words aren’t meant to stand on their own. Only the combination of the two evoke the brand.
You might think that the Marvel logo is just text but it’s important to recognize how essential that red background is. It may just be a red rectangle, but it’s as important here as the yellow triangle in the CAT logo.
Next, let’s look at the slightly more confusing category. These are logos where the text is the design.
Confused? You might be wondering how these are any different from the text only logos. There is a very important distinction here. When the text is also the design, it generally means that the text itself could still represent the brand even if the text said something else.
Let’s try an experiment! Below are the Disney and Time logos.
OK, simple enough right? Two words, two fonts. Easy. But what if the words were different? If we keep everything the same except the word, could you still recognize the brand?
I won’t claim to speak for everyone, but the word Chicken still definitively evokes the Disney brand. Sandwich, although using the same font and color as the Time logo, could refer to any sandwich. Maybe a fancy one with nice mustard and some crunchy pickles… now I want a sandwich. Anyway! Hopefully this helps you differentiate how text-only and text-as-design are different. The key design elements exist in the text itself. When designing your own logo, will you try one of these approaches? Or maybe it makes more sense to combine the two for your logo.
There is one more concept we need to consider before we finish this series on logo design. We’ve learned how to use shape, color, and text. It’s time we learned how to combine all of those things in space. *Cue dramatic music* No, sadly not outer space though. In our next blog we will look at how the logo functions in the real world as a way to inform the design.
See you next time!