An Insider’s Guide to Type and Symbol Logos

Type-and-symbol logos generally take the form of the company name in type, and a symbol representing the ideals of that company beside, underneath or above the name.

When using both type and symbols, designers must carefully consider how their choice of typeface will work with the symbol. For example, take a look at the Jaguar logo featuring the famous cat jumping over the company name. The wild cat represents speed and control and is a graceful but powerful image matched with a sophisticated typeface. The elements match each other to produce a strong, elegant feel.

jaguar-logo

The I Love New York logo can surely be described as iconic and look how simple it is. Three upper case letters and a heart shape have become well-known and well-loved not just in America but by anyone who has traveled to New York. The slab serif typeface has a chunky, curvy feel (it’s called American Typewriter) which ties in beautifully with the heart.

i love ny

This type of combination logo is possibly the best option for new businesses or someone just starting out as it helps build brand recognition. It is visually strong and has explanatory text. A brief amount of text which compliments the symbol can provide additional clarity and tells the audience “this is what we do”. If the designer gets the mix right, a memorable logo results.

Logos that combine symbols and type often use a very simple, very ordinary symbol such as a basic shape, globe or tick mark. One of the most important qualities of a good logo is simplicity. It is certainly a challenge to create something unique. An important part of the design process is brainstorming and free association. Here’s some examples of famous logos which create a successful relationship between the type and the symbol.

mcdonalds

adidas-logo

burger-king-logo

ferrari-logo

intel-logo

wikipedia-logo

puma-logo

nfl-logo

mercedes-benz-logo

lamborghini-logo

What do you think of these logos? Any favorites amongst them, or are there any where you think the typeface–graphic symbol balance is off?

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  • Butch

    Hi Jennifer, I tried your link to ‘Laughing Lion Design’ and found the domain name has expired.

    • http://completesolutions.com Gary Hughes

      It appears she opted to drop her .net domain.  Replace with .com to find her site.

      laughingliondesign.com redirects to -
      http://www.laughing-lion-design.com/

      • Dezi

        … which is a good idea, as it’s (somewhat) more difficult (inconvenient?) to type hyphens on iPhones & other mobile devices yet easier to distinguish the individual words.

  • Meks

    One of these logos is not like the others! Wikipedia’s logo is craptacular

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=739520663 Matthew Long

    I think that the “Leap Ahead” doesn’t mesh well with the Intel logo as well as the previous one “Intel Inside.” That’s just my opinion though.

    http://www.mobilewhack.com/wp-content/images/2009/02/intel-inside.png

    • http://twitter.com/helennatasha Helen Natasha Moore

      And the words are ‘leap ahead,’ but the swirl goes round, not forward. That’s not good design, is it?

      • Paul

        Remember it’s intel inside, their logo is very figurative.

        intel is ‘inside’ as indicated by the circle and their technology is leaps ahead as indicated by broken/open ring (circle).

        Very good design, yes it fails in not being obvious with a cursory glance; though once understood, as it likely would be to those in their industry, it reinforces their message quite clearly…it’s an ingenious logo that says a lot with only a name, a symbol, and two words.

  • J T Montgomery

    Another of the most important qualities of a good logo is what it stands for.  Take the excellent piece of corporate identity – a black swastika on a white/red background.  What the organisation does is what the glyph comes to mean.

  • http://wallybee.wordpress.com Walter Karshat

    Thank you for good insight, Jennifer. I would agree with an earlier comment that Intel logos are not great. Yet, some logos, while not perfect graphically, did become iconic over the years of branded use, like NFL and even Wikipedia.

  • Paddy

    It would be a lot better if the links to the images worked, all images showing a 502  gateway error.

  • Techgirl790

    Your site, though possibly informative, is hard to read with this background.   You audience will be put off by the overly powerful color scheme and design of the website.

  • Marc

    What happened to the images? 7/21/11

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reporting. Looks to be another CDN migration problem — we’re onto it. :)

      —Pascal.