Text Based Logos

By Mash Bonigala

For many companies the idea of a logo will mean a graphic or icon next to the name. A classic layout that works for many companies in various industries. There are times however, when the text alone is ideal for brand identity. As a designer the text based logo can be much more energy and time consuming then even the most illustrated icon. Because essentially the look and feel of the entire company has to be reflected in just the name. There are a variety of styles and representations of how a text based design works. They can include a graphic that has been substitute for a specific letter to the whole name it self taking on the form of an image.

Often, all that is needed to created a distinctive text based logo is a simple alteration to a pre existing font. From these examples it’s easy to see how the style and adjustments can create two very distinctive directions. The client “NOOR” came to us looking for an elegant text based  design that showcased a very regal and upscale look. A very thin serif font was utilized as the foundation to build the logo on. The sweeping lines that stretch upward from the base of the “O”’s were first added to reflect the unique characteristics of the “N”. Afterward simple leaves were added to give the text a floral look. The end result is a very simple design that reflects a very luxurious style.

The second design for Field Associates was taken in a completely different direction. The client need a much more modern looking design. The text needed to reflect a technologically advanced company at the leading edge of their industry. Using a bold yet curved font the letters were extended into each other to create the illusion of a fluid line. The “I” and “E” were kept separate to avoid getting confused with a “T” or “L”. It is very important when designing to makes sure the legibility of the text is still clear. Although giving your market the credit to fill in some of the blanks is a good idea, they should also be able to read you company name.

The most distinctive and unique element in this minimalist design would where the “L” and “D” are joined. The way the letters seem to loop around and down lead the eye to the bottom line of “ASSOCIATES” completing the name. Even though the overall design is very simple, the logo is successful in creating a mood or look that reflects the modern, tech-savvy style.

Creating a text based logo can also mean utilizing the shape of the name itself to create an image. This is especially true when it comes to athletic sports teams mascots. When it came to the design of the Angels logo, the client needed an image that would convey the angelic theme but it had to also reflect the aggressive, competitiveness of a sports team. By using a strong font as the base, small angel wings were incorporated into the letter “A” and “S”. As an afterthought a simple halo graphic was placed above the text giving the design a completed look. By carefully choosing where the distinctive elements go, the emphasis on name can be increased to give the maximum amount of clarity and impact.

Under different circumstances the text for the logo can be used to create the context for the companies image. For Cyco Xtreme a very fluid look was utilized to create the visual representation of speed and energy. The use of flames act almost as an extension of the “X” which helps draw the eye back down to the text keeping the focus on the name. Using very simple gradients really give the overall design that extra bit of excitement and “pop”. To give that extra bit of dimension a smaller gradient from white to blue was added to just the tip of the “X” to convey the illusion the fire reflecting off the text. It is easy to see that from the name combined with the style and direction of the design that company is likely not an insurance company or real estate logos agency or a brokerage firm. This is completely due to the style of the text design.

Another way to approach the idea of text based logo is through the incorporation of graphics to either replace a letter or help showcase a specific section of the text. For our client Victory International University, a unique and representative graphic was placed dead center and replaced the letter “T”. The concept of victory in relation to the design had very spiritual and religious meaning to the client. The combination of a sword with golden wings seemed like an ideal visual image that perfectly fit the shape of the letter. When we are designing an icon to fit the letter, how close to the shape of the letter is graphic can be is really up to spelling of the word. For example is quite common for text based logos with numbers in the name to be spelled out using a combination of the number and letters. Ie. 4OUR, 8EIGHT, 7EVEN etc..

The other route that is commonly used is when a graphic is located behind or integrated in such a way as to highlight certain letters. The client, 53 Desires runs a high end photography company as well as other businesses that all carry the number 53 in the name. As such, it seemed only natural that the distinctive use of the 53 should become the focal point of the name. The romantic nature of the name was also emphasized with the use of a 3D logo graphic which was ultimately used as a backdrop for the 53. Rather then use a font that fir perfectly in the icon a flowing scripted text was chosen to create a more organic integration with the icon. The overall design is a very relaxing, yet professional design that has both a high visual impact as well as significant meaning to the client.

When creating a logo for a client that needs to express very high class theme, it most often the more minimalist designs that really capture the prestige and luxury of the company. For our client Sonja Dee, this feeling of elegance and class was created with the addition of just one extra line. The extension of the “A” is really just a single line that flows off into an elegantly scripted graphic. Because of the classic and prestigious feeling the line creates for the viewer, what was a very simple text based design suddenly feeling very rich and classy. To further enhance this emotional response the design utilizes a white on silver color scheme which adds a unique and elegant distinction of designs that sit on plain white backgrounds.

The extension of the letter can also flow into a graphic which utilizes a bit of every type of f ont based design. For the design of the Patriotic Mind logo a combination of several text based design style were utilized. The overall design is very simple and regal utilizing a very high end and professional layout. The initial “P” shapes and forms with the background graphic which helps define the logo creating a context. The initial is also extended into a very free flowing scripted letter helping to complete the thought and add balance to the graphic. The patriotic theme is very common and used in just about every industry, for this design the orginial concept of American patriots was used as the foundation for the design. The concept of using the quill and inkwell to create the “P” reflects the core of United States which is the Declaration of Independence. Using this classic historical reference along with a traditional color scheme the overall design conveys the unmistakable message that company is proudly American in a way that is both unique and highly effective.

Typeface Or Image In Logos?

When it comes to logo design, there are two basic choices. On one hand, there are logos that use images to represent their company. On the other, some businesses choose to let their name stand alone, portraying their brand with a carefully designed font. These two devices can both be very effective, but each comes with a unique set of pros and cons.

Typographic Logos: Pros And Cons

Some of the UK’s most recognizable brands, such as Tesco and Virgin, allow their wording to do the talking. This creates a very simple, easily recognizable identity. It also yields a more timeless image. Consider UK business giant Virgin. The typeface used is distinctive enough for easy recognition, and it has been used successfully for decades. Typographic logos also are more versatile than those that use images. The Virgin logo has been used on products as diverse as soft drinks and airplanes, all with relative success. Further, there are no distractions from the business name, which is above all else the most important piece of information to remember.

On the other hand, there are drawbacks to typographic logo design as well. Because there is no image to represent the brand, the fonts and colours alone must present the message. Every element must be carefully chosen to create a distinctive sense of identity. This kind of simplicity can actually require more work and more thought than the creation of a logo image.

Image Logos: Pros And Cons

At the other end of the spectrum, many companies choose to be represented by a logo that features an image such as a picture or shape as its main identifying factor. This is also a common choice in UK logo design. Consider the BP sunburst flower, or the red quotation mark of Vodafone. Obviously these are very memorable logos, and they offer character that a typeface alone could not match. Further, while typeface logos may hint at the character of a brand, image logos are much more direct.

The drawbacks are easy to see. Image logos are not as timeless as typeface counterparts and necessitate more regular updates, which can be both expensive and time-consuming. If the name of the business is not part of the logo in some way, customers may have a hard time connecting the logo with the business. As we saw in the recent BP oil spill scandal, image logos can easily be parodied and made the butt of jokes in a very public and embarrassing way.

Both image and typeface logos have a long and distinctive history in the UK. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to each choice that must be overcome in order for a business to achieve branding success. While both types of logo have their pros and cons, there is probably a ‘right choice’ for your business.