The Best and Most Clever Examples of Typographic Logos
Splashy logos with clever icons or images incorporated into them are part of everyday life. You would be hard-pressed to find a brand or organization that does not have some type of a logo to represent it and to help people associate their name with their products or services. Coming up with an object that illustrates the nature of the company can be an arduous task.
More difficult is the challenge of creating a compelling and memorable logo using typography alone. Utilizing only fonts, colors and placement, many of the best examples of typography logos are very recognizable and commonly seen in day-to-day life. It is likely that someone could list a dozen or two memorized brand logos from his or her refrigerator without thinking twice. There are also many lesser-known but equally ingenious designs that you may never have the pleasure of seeing.
Perhaps the most recognizable and effective of all logos is the famous Coca-Cola trademark. The fact that it is strictly typographic makes it all the more impressive. The lettering is a bold, cursive style with swashes and is primarily seen in white on a red ground or the reverse, although either color lettering can be seen isolated in specific applications. Let’s take a look at a few others.
Less Is More
One icon that some may wish their teenagers would see less of has become symbolic not only of social networking but also represents a vehicle for business advertising. Of course, we are referring to the FaceBook logo. The famous icon, featuring a lowercase “f,” uses only the single white letter against a square of royal blue. Genius in its simplicity, it has become well-known worldwide.
In keeping with the less-is-more theme, the 3M company logo merely consists of a “3” and an uppercase “M” butted up against each other. The bold font and bright red color make this no-frills image difficult to forget. In the category of minimalism, there are several other contenders for best examples of typography logos, including Sony’s Playstation 3, that uses a space-age tech-style font and simply the letters “PS3.” We would also like to give a nod to Google’s singular bold capital “G” done in RGB colors (red, green and blue – the color system used by internet browsers), and IBM’s to-the-point logotype using nothing but the three letters by which it is known.
Another logo frequently seen is the FedEx icon. Using only text, it distinguishes the words through the use of color. The “Fed” is purple, and in contrast, the complementary color of orange is used for the “Ex.”
Clever and Crafty
Illuminati designers used a black letter (old English flair) font to create its fascinating logo. The word itself curves downward along the upper line of the word and in an upward curve along the baseline, creating an inward bow shape. The letters have been executed in such a way as to read the same not only backward and forward, but also right-side up and upside down. It is one of the most ingenious uses of typography we have seen.
Norwegian company Talkmore Wireless’s logo features a bold, wide, lowercase font spelling out the word in white. The “a” and the “e” have been replaced with large, chunky blue single quotation marks, facing the appropriate direction to mimic the letters, emphasizing the concept.
In the logotype for Families, a heavy, black sans-serif font spells out the word. The “ili” group of letters in the center of the word is done in staggered heights to represent three different family members. The top of each of the three scoops slightly downward, and they are topped with a circle representing the head of each person. It is very effective in its simplicity.
The TWINS trademark consists of an all-caps broad serif font spelling out the word “TWINS.” The number “2” stands in for the “N,” but is tipped on its side to resemble the letter. It is easily readable and makes the logo twice as fun.
Looking for your doppelganger? Ilooklikeyou.com is an online matching service. Its logo is a bold, green letter "u.” The top of each upright has been dotted as if it were an “i” and also to represent heads on two bodies, but the variegation in the green color shows each to be just slightly individual as well.
Looks of Love, a company that sells women’s intimate wear, has a logo that says pure romance. The font is a slender serifed roman style in a grey tone. The lettering aligns in two rows, one above the other. “LOOKS” is on the top row and the O’s are missing their lower halves – the top half joining in between the two to form the top of a heart shape. The right side of the “heart” curves down and connects with the top right point of the “V” in the “OF LOVE” below it to complete the heart.
A Little Help
As illustrated so far, you can get a feel for what can be communicated through the use of largely typographical images. Fonts and occasionally a small image can also be brought into play in these logos. Let’s take a look at several that incorporate simple imagery to heighten their meaning.
For instance, let’s take one we all know and love: Amazon. The word “amazon” is spelled out in black using a lowercase, somewhat playful sans-serif font. Below the word is a bold yellow arrow following the curve of a smile – in fact, it is known as the “Amazon smile.” A subliminal message that shopping with Amazon makes one happy? Arguably, yes, but look again at the placement of the arrow and you will see that it cleverly symbolizes that you can buy “anything from A - Z” from its online store.
The logo for Crown Royal Vodka, the word “CROWN” is spelled out in unassuming capital letters, equally spaced. A diminutive three-pointed crown replaces the “W” and not only completes the word but also enhances the image.
The United Artists Guild uses a clean, non-serif font in all caps. The two words are stacked and aligned to the left. The “A” is directly above and extends down to the top of the two sides of the “U,” forming a chunky pencil, yet not detracting from the words themselves.
Helix is another image created entirely from type that spells out the name but also creates an image. The “H” on the front of the word and the “X” on the end are reverse images of one another – a bit of a hybrid between the two letters. They are crafted in such a way as to illustrate the helix in a strand of DNA.
We see typography logos that do not just show the company name but also illustrate the name or the product. For instance, ZIP’s clever logo is made up simply of two chunky uppercase letters, “Z” and “P.” The space between them is filled with two abutting rows of small, alternating black and white rectangles, giving the appearance of a zipper and forming the “I.”
You are, no doubt familiar with the cheery SKYPE logo, which carries no image, as such, but which uses a heavy, irregular, rounded and shaded blue outline to form a cloud around the unassuming lowercase lettering. This is symbolic of the fact that the conversation is using, and being stored in, the cloud. Their abbreviated version is a solitary blue letter “s” in a cloud-shaped blue outline.
What You Don’t See
USA Network’s logotype creatively uses negative space to form the letter “S” nestled cozily between “U” and “A.” The human brain’s natural tendency to fill in the blanks, a task made easier by the choice of thick lettering.
The thoughtful use of negative space is again employed in SAINT’s trademark. In all-caps, the tall uppercase lettering spells out the word “SAINT.” The white space between the “I” and the “N” is interrupted by a small horizontal cut-out two-thirds of the way up. The combination of the cut-out and white space forms a thin cross between the other letters.
In one rendering of the YAHOO! Logo, negative space has been employed to do double duty. The lettering is a heavy sans-serif font, and closely spaced. The “H” is created from negative space between the “A” and “O,” and the space between the uprights of the “H,” above and below the crossbar, forms an exclamation point – You still read it as “YAHOO!”
The trademark for TIE, a men’s dress wear company, creates a tailored image in the mind’s eye. A formal, uppercase font spells out the word “TIE.” The negative space between the “T” and "E" gives the feel of the front of a man’s shirt; the “I” being replaced with a slim, but unmistakable shape of a tie, the knot of which dots the "i."
Computer cable company USB has a logo depicting the end of a USB cable; then in bold, blocky three-dimensional capital letters are the letters, “USB.” The “US” is in bold black. The “B” is formed from the negative space between those letters and the shadow at the end of the grouping.
Just for Fun
Our listing would not be complete without mentioning a couple of logos that just make us smile. The television series Impractical Jokers has a logo as lighthearted as the show itself. It consists of two rows of type; the upper says “(IMPRACTICAL)” in a fairly straightforward, but small sans-serif font. Below it in large colorful block-serif lettering is the word “JOKERS.” Like the show itself, the entire word is on a tilt, but the letter “O” is raised a bit and skewed a bit more, telling people not to take themselves too seriously.
Disney’s designers are masters at coming up with well-designed and amusing typographic logos. Toy Story is all kid – bright, primary colors and bold, happy lettering. It is drawn to look three-dimensional like a toy. Monsters, INC.’s abbreviated version of the movie title uses a single, heavy, block letter “M” with an eyeball in the middle to tell you what the show is about. Ratatouille is spelled out in a fancy serif font in all-caps with a mouse’s whiskered nose and a chef's hat dotting the “I.” In the logotype designed for the movie MOANA, the “O” is formed by a whirlpool or vortex, hinting at the importance of water in the film. The aqua blue font color further emphasizes the water theme. The Princess and the Frog uses a semi-fancy font, adding a few swoops and swashes for interest. The font size changes with the importance of the words, but what really tells the story is the change in color. “Princess” is an appropriately royal shade of purple-blue, and, for a touch of whimsy, “Frog” is in a toad green. Inside the “O” is what could be interpreted as either a froggy footprint or a three-pointed crown.
When someone looks at a logo, the message must get through to them in a few seconds or less, so simplicity is essential. That is why we favor these clean, well-executed specimens. A brand icon is the primary element of advertising. An entire campaign can be built around one, but without a symbol of some kind to let people know who you are or what you are about, it will have less impact. Logos can be serious and formal or playful and amusing. With or without imagery, they all carry a message to the viewer.
We have now seen some of the best examples of typography logos, and they are astounding both in the complexity of thought that created them, and the simplicity with which they convey their messages. The simple twist of letter placement or distortion of shape or direction; a color shift or the clever use of negative space is at times, astonishing. You may find it amusing to spend an hour perusing logo typography-based images online. There are some amazing designers at work out there (and, admittedly, some head-scratching and uninspiring fails). You may, as did we, find yourself saying, “I wish I’d thought of that!”