What is a logo? Learn more about this branding basic

A logo may not be the entirety of your brand identity, but it is certainly the most visible and recognizable part of it. As an extension of your company’s purpose and mission, your logo is a powerful and poignant way to represent your business to the world and showcase your abilities, strengths, and what makes you different at a glance. To help you leverage this important symbol as effectively as possible, we’ve put together this guide detailing what a logo is, why it’s so important, and how you can create one of your own.

A logo is a visual representation of your business, brand, product, or service. Made of colors, shapes, icons, and a typeface, a logo is a consistent presence of your brand across all platforms, both in print and digitally. It helps customers quickly identify your brand.

While you may not think about your logo — or other company’s logos — every day, the fact that you notice, recognize, and remember them is precisely why they’re important for your business. The three major reasons why you need a logo are:

It helps your company stand out

There is certainly no shortage of competitors out there. A memorable logo ensures that you appear head and shoulders above the others. Similarly, it helps create a great first impression that customers will remember later on when it comes time to buy your products or use your services.

It helps build brand recognition and awareness

Creating brand awareness is the first big hurdle that many companies navigate. After all, how can customers come to your company if they don’t know you’re an option? An identifiable and unique logo helps establish brand awareness by creating a visual representation to which your potential customers can connect and easily remember. This, in turn, builds brand recognition: As your logo continues to make its mark, customers will build connections between the logo they recognize and the products and services you offer.

It communicates key information about your business

As an extension of your brand identity, your logo sums up what your customers need to know about your business. Whether you want to literally represent your offerings or communicate your company’s core values, your logo is a powerful way to reinforce your brand’s purpose across all mediums from business cards to Twitter profiles.

How is a logo used?

Logos appear across a variety of digital and print materials to instantly connect customers to your company. Some places you’ll see a logo used include:

  • Business cards: Among the most standard uses for a logo, business cards typically feature logos printed on one or both sides. You can use an online business card maker to easily add your logo and contact information to a modern design that reflects your business. 
  • Print collateral: Print collateral covers a wide range of materials, such as brochures, flyers, and postcards. Your logo placed prominently on this material immediately associates what’s written on the flyer with your company.
  • Website: Whether you work with a website developer or use a service like Namecheap’s Site Maker, your logo is a key way to identify your business online. The logo will be found in several places on the website, including near the menu toward the top and in the footer on the bottom.
  • Official communications: A company logo helps identify messages issued formally by your company. This could be a logo on a press release, a presentation, or an investor deck.

Social media: Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms, you can use your logo, or the brand mark portion of your logo (more on that below), to enforce your brand image across the Internet. Take a look at Namecheap’s Facebook page as an example: You’ll find our logo as the main profile photo, easily identifying this page as our official Facebook presence.

Every logo is composed of several parts beyond simply writing out your company name. Here’s what you can expect to include when you make a logo:

  • Brand mark: This is the symbol associated with your brand. Target’s bullseye or Chase Bank’s octagon are just two of many famous examples of brand marks. Your brand mark may speak to your business’s core mission, be a literal visual representation of what you offer, or something else entirely inspired by certain shapes and their intended meaning.

Photo by Megan Ellis on Unsplash

  • Typeface: This is the chosen font used to spell out your brand name. There are thousands of fonts out there to choose from, and some brands, like Google and Uber, have custom typefaces created for their brand.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

  • Colors: A color, or a color palette made up of several complementary colors, is part of a brand identity. Colors can be used to communicate something important about your brand and help reinforce visual identity across different platforms. Your logo will likely contain at least one color, although all-black and all-white alternate versions are common for certain use cases.
  • Tagline: If your business has a short and snippy tagline, it can become a part of your logo. For example, Allstate Insurance’s tagline, “You’re In Good Hands,” at one point appeared in its logo underneath a pair of outstretched hands.

Logo examples and what makes them great

If you’re feeling a little stuck on what you want your logo to look like, turn to some of the biggest and most famous brands in the world to see what makes their logos so successful. Here are some great examples to follow:

Nike

Perhaps one of the most iconic logos out there, the Nike “swoosh” checks all the boxes (pun intended) for memorable logos. The design itself is uncomplicated and it has a good backstory, and it’s said to represent the wings of the Greek goddess of victory after which the brand is named. That speed and agility speaks directly to Nike’s brand values, providing quality athletic products to professional and casual athletes alike.

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

McDonald's

The burger chain’s “golden arches,” often set against a red backdrop, are immediately recognizable around the world. It’s considered a master class in success because of its simplicity, as it transcends languages and alphabets while simultaneously reading as an “M” to English speakers. The arches have been a part of the brand since 1968, representing the fast food chain for more than 50 years.

McDonald’s is also a great study in the importance of color. Out of more than 39,000 locations globally, there’s only one place in the world where the golden arches can be seen in a different color: Sedona, Arizona. McDonald’s famously altered the colors from yellow to turquoise at the town’s request, to better conform to Sedona’s rules regarding color use on signage. The occurrence is so unusual and has such an impact on the brand identity that this McDonald’s is considered a tourist attraction.

Photo by Jurij Kenda on Unsplash

FedEx

On its surface, the FedEx logo seems simple: It’s just the name of the company, one part in purple and one part in orange. However, a closer look reveals an arrow between the E and the X. This arrow is a simple and effective representation of FedEx’s global delivery services. Once you notice the arrow, it can’t be unseen, and that’s precisely what makes FedEx’s logo so great.

Photo by Bannon Morrissy on Unsplash

Amazon

While Amazon as a brand may be newer to the scene, it deserves a mention in a list of great, famous logos because of its straightforward design. Like FedEx, Amazon also employs an arrow, but this arrow is a prominent part of the logo design. Originally, Amazon said the arrow was to represent its ability to deliver products (originally books) anywhere, but it quickly gained a different meaning: The website delivers all sorts of products, from A to Z.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Mercedes Benz

Car brands evoke strong emotional attachments to drivers who are passionate about cars or have fond memories of the vehicles they rode around in growing up. Mercedes Benz is no different: A symbol of quality and luxury, the famous three-pointed star has been a part of the company’s logo for decades.

Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

Apple

The literal fruit depiction, the leaf, the bite on the side: Apple’s logo is one of the most instantly recognizable out there. It’s celebrated because of the simple statement it makes: There are no complicated or intricate designs here, unlike its original logo in the mid-70s. At a single glance, customers know that the product or service is one offered from this inventive and iconic tech company. Fun fact: The bite out of the fruit was included to distinguish this simplified apple shape from a cherry.

Photo by Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash

There are a few ways to go about creating your logo, depending on your abilities, needs, and vision. One of these three options can help turn your logo’s vision into reality.

  • Use Namecheap’s logo maker. Services like Namecheap’s free logo maker are excellent options for those who know what they want their logo to look like, but they may not have the software necessary to create it.
  • Hire a freelance graphic designer. A freelance graphic designer is an option if you have some money to invest in your logo and need some professional help to articulate the vision for your logo. The cost to hire a graphic designer varies, so ask for estimates before committing.
  • Work with a branding or marketing firm. A full service firm can help you develop your logo and all the other material required to create a full brand identity. However, this option is not accessible for most businesses, and you may not see a final product for months.
Create free logos

Your logo: Much more than a graphic

When it comes to your logo, that little symbol carries a whole lot of meaning. It’s not just about creating something pretty to symbolize your brand: It’s a way to carry your business forward, no matter the circumstances or environment. Whether you’re just starting out, considering revisiting your branding, or updating your logo, there’s no better time than now to embrace the power your logo can hold.


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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