While it’s generally understood these days that your logo is not your brand… your logo is an important component of your brand identity — the cornerstone of all future branding. Your logo identifies your business, or product, in it’s simplest form via the use of a mark or icon. Therefore your logo needs to inspire trust, reliability and familiarity.

There are number of logo options to choose from. Which direction is best suited for your business’ needs depends on your particular situation.

First and foremost your logo should match your brand personality (or what your brand strives to be). Each logo type is more than capable of achieving this synergy with the proper creative but some will naturally fit better than others.

Factors such as start-up status, budgetary constraints or modest brand equity and exposure will come into play, especially for small businesses. In these cases a combination mark with a simple icon may work best as they offer a level of versatility for short and long-term considerations. Wordmarks also offer a simpler approach that can pack an equal amount of punch for those working with smaller budgets.

Here are the 5 main types of logos:

Icon / Symbol

An icon or symbol that is able to represent the brand without the help of any text – these can range from simple to complex. Notable companies that employ this type of logo include: Apple, Target, and Shell. The simpler the name, the more easily the icon can represent it. Abstract ideas, proper names and combined names are possible with creative use of visual puns but definitely don’t translate as quickly and literally as an ‘Apple’ icon would.

Other companies that have icons with less obvious visual representations like Nike, Starbucks and NBC, are able to use this type of logo largely because of brand equity and global recognition. They previously had employed a combination mark and eventually dropped the text elements from their logos.


Logotype / Wordmark

This type of logo is strictly composed of type and can range from very clean and straightforward to playful. With the vast number of typefaces available at the designer’s disposal – finding one that matches the personality of your company should only be a matter of time. While the typefaces themselves are very unique and full of character, a lot of the time, standard typefaces are modified further to add another level of personal flavour or a completely custom typeface is created from scratch. Notable companies using this type of logo include: Google, Coca Cola and Fedex.


Fedex is most notably known for its clever play on negative space: the space between the E and x creates a forward arrow.


Initials / Lettermark

Similar to a wordmark but only utilizing a company’s initials (acronym). These logos are especially useful to but not limited to companies that have long and/or less than memorable names. Some notable companies under this category of logos include: CNN (Cable News Network), IBM (International Business Machines), HP (Hewlett-Packard), and GE (General Electric). These can often be treated as emblems.


Combination Mark

This is probably the most common type of logo you will encounter and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a combination of an icon and wordmark/lettermark. This logo direction can be very versatile because it has the potential to have many secondary application-specific versions of the brand – sometimes the logo can be stacked or set horizontal, or simply just use the wordmark or icon. A lot of well-established brands can actually still easily be recognized by their icon alone. This is where companies like Nike and NBC started but as mentioned earlier – because they have built up their brand equity, they can afford to drop their name just because of the sheer recognizability of their logos’ icons. Notable companies using combination mark logos include: Adidas, Honda, and Toblerone.


Toblerone is produced in Berne, Switzerland and it’s combination mark is very interesting because if you look closely at the negative space of the mountain icon – you can spot a bear, which is the animal featured on the city’s coat of arms.



Emblems can come with text, icon or both but its defining characteristic is that those elements are contained within the design. Notable companies using emblem-style logos include: Lego, UPS, BMW, and the NBA. This is quite common with sports teams likely due to their intended applications on jerseys, activewear and other sports paraphernalia.


But regardless of logo, the brand experience is key and a strategy must be established to work in tandem with the visual brand. Company culture, tone/voice of messaging, customer interaction are just a few things to consider when building your overall brand experience. Contact Mystique Brand Communications to find out how we can help you with your business’ brand development and strategy.

To see more examples of logo designs for small business click here.


rene tan

Rene Tan
Graphic Designer
Mystique Brand Communications