PMG Digital Made for Humans

Graphic Design 101: Logos vs Logotypes

3 MINUTE READ | August 14, 2014

Graphic Design 101: Logos vs Logotypes

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PMG is a global independent digital company that seeks to inspire people and brands that anything is possible. Driven by shared success, PMG uses business strategy and transformation, creative, media, and insights, along with our proprietary marketing intelligence platform Alli, to deliver Digital Made for Humans™. With offices in New York, London, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Atlanta, and Cleveland, our team is made up of over 900+ employees globally, and our work for brands like Apple, Nike, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Gap Inc., Kohler, Momentive, Sephora, and Shake Shack has received top industry recognitions including Cannes Lions and Adweek Media Plan of the Year.

Welcome back to Graphic Design 101. Today, our topic is logos and logotypes and…economics. (Heyyyy, that’s a bait and switch!) It’s not; I promise I’ll explain.

Okay, let’s get to it. What is a logo, and what is a logotype? Technically speaking, they’re one and the same. These days, however, we tend to think of logos as purely symbolic or graphic, and logotypes as logos made entirely of a typeface.

Pop quiz below: Which is the logo, and which is the logotype?

Apple’s old school rainbow logo is instantly recognizable, as is the classic Coca Cola ribbon font. Apple’s is purely graphic, Coke’s is purely type.


Or a brand might need a bit of both. Take a gander at the coveted Parisian brand, Hermes. In this case, many people might have a hard time recognizing it from its logo alone. Wanna take a guess why? (Hint: you probably can’t afford it.)

This leads us to our next topic: Economics. What happens to logos and brands when money is involved?

Money always complicates things, doesn’t it? Just ask my wife. But when it comes to classic logos/logotypes, even good ones (and by good, I mean that it does its job of instant brand recognition) don’t stand out unless it’s got culture on its side.

Perfect example: Coach. Depending on your…generation, you might associate the Coach brand with one of these looks:

The question is, how did the classic Coach logo, complete with horse and buggy, devolve into a bunch of sketchy, brightly colored Cs? The answer? Money. Walk into any Coach store (or let your wife drag you into one) and look at the price points of the items sporting the various versions of the logo. It is clear that the “classic” horse and buggy Coach items are higher priced, and marketed toward a more “adult” audience; the simple monochromatic Cs are midrange, aimed at young professionals, looking to transition from the club to the office; the brighter colors are aimed at the young folk, those who want the status, but not at the cost of a horse and buggy.

Let’s see if you recognize these other status-symbol logos:

And now look at these logos, ones that are recognizable, but with not so much culture on their side. They should make you feel…different than the ones above:

Now, here’s another curveball: irony. Designer irony has been gaining popularity the last few years. What will happen when these anti-brands become the new status symbols? Check them out:

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