Do you really need a logo?

Do you really need a logo?

This might seem like an odd question, since I’m in the business of creating logos. But more and more, I’m recommending to clients they consider an alternative approach to designing the traditional logo: the “wordmark.” Instead of laboring to create the most perfect symbol or icon to represent a name or product, I sometimes suggest clients consider branding their business in text only, creating a typographic solution. This approach is easier for both the client and the designer and the resulting new logo works like a charm.

All the logo above are examples of wordmarks.

What is a logo, anyway?

A logo is your unique way of visually describing your business or product. Usually it contains words (your business name or product) and some sort of illustrative element — an icon or a simplified illustration. Ideally it is strong, attractive and tells people something about your business.

I find clients can get really stuck on this part: what the illustrative element should be, or what it should represent. Sometimes, clients have no idea what that visual icon or illustration should be. Or in what style it should be rendered. Usually, they’re in a hurry to get their new logo finished so they can start using it on a new brochure or on a new website. And developing just the right visual icon or illustration takes time. It takes a lot of time — for both the client and the designer.

What purpose does a logo serve?

It’s nice to have an attractive logo and sometimes a beautifully crafted logo can rise to the level of art. While that’s fun, it’s not necessary in a good logo.

More than anything else, a logo has to be functional.

It should make for a strong and identifiable visual on your storefront, on your web page, on your letterhead, and everywhere else you use it. A wordmark, or logotype, is really just a consistently applied way of writing your name, whether blocky, swashy, funky, old fashioned, classy, etc. It can be enormously effective for branding — just take a look at all the wordmark logos above. While they’re all professional and effective, none of them use an illustrative element or icon; they are created with type only. Do you really need more than a consistent and clean typographic solution for your own business?

We could slave together, you and I, for days, weeks and months to to make the most beautifully expressive icon to represent your business, or we could instead take an easier approach with a wordmark. It’ll save you time and money, but it won’t sacrifice your professional identity. When in the market for a new logo, don’t overlook this easier solution, the logotype.