What is a combination mark type logo?

Saul Bass, an American graphic designer and filmmaker, once said, “Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company.” (Bass, n.d.)

Companies pay a lot of money for branding. This includes catchy commercials and advertisements wherein their logo is strategically placed for maximum name recall. It is an identifying symbol. (Merriam-Webster, n.d.) Every logo is unique, but a good logo needs to be powerful. 

A brand logo should scream about the brands identity and positioning in the market.  It represents the values, standards, products or services of your company. An eye-catching logo is one of the secret formula for a brands success and cult following. 

There are three main types of logo. These are the logomark, logotype and combination mark. 

A logomark or pictorial mark uses icons, graphic (lines, boxes or borders) or illustrative elements like shapes, images and objects to represent a company. It is highly imaginative and associates a certain image to a brand name. The logotype or word mark on the other hand focuses on the brands full name. It uses texts and spells out the brand’s name or initials in a distinct font. The amalgamation of logotype and logomark is called the combination mark also known as the iconic logotype. 

The combination mark is the most popular type of logo.  In this style, the text and image are integrated into one form like Starbucks mermaid logo or have the image and text stand next to each other like AT&T.  (Kimbo Design, n.d.) Why limit your logo to texts or images alone when you could use both?

Best practice is to create a combination mark where the image and text can be used separately or in combination. This design creates a strong brand recall because you can use either the brand name (text) or symbol (image) or both making it very flexible. If you forget the text, you might remember the image or vice versa. This is a great way to create strong brand recognition as both your name and symbol become recognized in relation to each other, working together to boost your brand. The end product is a distinct and unique logo which is difficult to copy or get confused with another brand. 

This type of logo is best for small or medium sized companies or start-ups because it is easier to copyright and protect as the brand name and symbol are always used together. (110 Designs Business Blog, n.d.) The downside of its uniqueness and complexity though is it may sometimes be difficult to reduce to a smaller size without sacrificing the distortion of its imagery. 

The four typical combination mark layout are as follows:  (Brown, 2020)

Side-by-side. This is the widely used style wherein the logo mark is usually placed to the left side of the text. This horizontal layout does not require special arrangement. However, the font and icon should be well-balanced to make it easy on the eyes. Check out the logos of Target, Microsoft, and Apple to see this style in action. 

Stacked-on-top. This design creates a more condensed look and does not eat up a lot of space. It involves putting the text and image on top of each other. You can do it either way – text at the bottom and image on top or image at the bottom and the text on top. The image usually match the width of the text in this design. This is best for circle or square formats for use in social media profile pictures. This also works well for businesses with shorter names. An example of this style is Toyota and Adidas logo. (Taylor Brands, n.d.)

Integrated together. This is a creative yet classic style wherein the text and image are merged to form one unified and cohesive logo. This is also a space saver and is very easy to remember. A tip when creating this design is to make sure that the logotype is not over-powered by the image. This is the style used by Budweiser, Burger King and Master Card.

Inside an emblem. An emblem is very traditional, detailed and intricate logo. It is often designed in the shape of a shield or a circle and embedded in it are the text and images. This is used as a unifying force in organizations like governments, schools, and fraternities as it gives the wearer a sense of identity.  (Peate, n.d.)  You can often find it used in seals, badges and crests. When you see this, you would often associate it with prestige, power and authority. Try looking at the school logo of Harvard and Cornell to see how a typical emblem looks like. Other examples are the emblems from NFL, Hogwarts, the Game of Thrones or Superman’s trademark S.  (Arnett, n.d.)

Each combination mark style has its own advantages and disadvantages. One style may work better than the other depending on the industry you are in, the length of the company’s name and your target market. 

When you are still new in the industry, choose a logo style that will help your consumers remember its name and imagery. The ‘stacked-on-top’ and the ‘integrated together’ style is popular with startups or less well-known brands because you can easily read the brand’s name and identify its icon.

Now that you know the different types of combination logo, here are more tips to a well-balanced combination mark logo:

  • Choose a text and image that represents what your company does and stands for. 
  • Use the dimensions of the text as a width or height limit for the symbol. 
  • Use gridlines or alignment lines to make sure that all the elements are centered. 
  • Use a readable font and make sure that it does not overshadow the image. 
  • To create a harmonious look, eave some space between the various elements.
  • Make it easy on the eyes and do not use more than three colors or better yet, go monochromatic like Paypal or Youtube.
  • Make it simple but have a strong imagery. (Free Logo Design, 2021)

Branding requires a clear messaging, which has an emotional appeal. When choosing a logo, think about the message your logo is conveying to current and future customers. Choose one, which is versatile and can last through the test of time. Make sure it looks good on a screen either as a profile picture or as a Favicon and would need minimal revisions in the future.