Rob Marsh

Icons or Logotype?

The vast majority of logo projects we get ask for an icon as part of the logo. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. There are plenty of successful organizations with iconic logos—Nike, Apple, Major League Baseball, and AT&T, to name just four.

But there’s another option when it comes to your logo, the wordmark or logotype. There are plenty of successful companies that use this kind of logo as well: IBM, Fedex, Exxon, Disney and Microsoft.

So why do so many entrepreneurs ask for icons rather than wordmarks? I’m not sure I have a good answer for that question, except maybe people are trained to think of logos as images or pictures, rather than words. (This is true of both iconic logos and logotypes—we see them as pictures.) So, when customers think about logos, they literally think of icons and ask for them, rather than having the designer try to do something unique with the type.

In addition to iconic logos, our designers have come up with some pretty amazing logotypes. Here are two of my favorites from our archive. The first was a concept we presented to Sonoma Vinegar Works that makes use of colors and shapes to communicate the idea of grapes. I love this logo:

The second is for a small start-up down the street called Needle. Given the track record of the founders, it’s pretty likely you’ll be hearing more from them in the future.



Both of these logos include hidden elements (though not that hidden) and strong font choices, demonstrating that when they are done right, a logotype can be every bit as effective as an iconic logo—maybe more so. Something to consider if you’re thinking about creating a new logo for your organization.


  1. saad

    I think it looks great without the name—the image by itself is clean and iconic