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What's in a Logo? Logo Design Anatomy

Typically, the term anatomy refers to the structure and components of the human body. In this post, we’ll use the term to loosely describe the structure and components of logo design. For those who struggled through dense science coursework, you’ll be relieved to learn that a logo is nowhere near as complex as a human body. In fact, the structure of a logo is incredibly simple. 

A logo may include some or all of the elements below:

  1. Symbol
  2. Brand Name
  3. Subtext/Tagline

While some or all of these elements are present in any logo design, all logos are not created equal. Most logos do not include all three elements and many do not show all three elements together. Some of the biggest brands use only a symbol to identify their business once they have gained a strong brand recognition. Other brands, such as Google, FedEx, or Coca-Cola, rely on the stylized characters of their brand name to identify their business.

1. Symbol

This is the graphic image that literally or figuratively depicts your business, through obvious or abstract means. A logo symbol can be a shape, object, letter, image, or abstract figure. A logo symbol is typically placed above or beside the brand name or may be used as a standalone. Many brands use only their symbol once customers have developed recognition to see the logo symbol and instantly associate it with the company it identifies.

A logo symbol is also commonly referred to as a mark, icon, or brandmark.

2. Brand Name

This is the name of your company. The most effective brand names are not only unique, but also easy to pronounce and remember. For this reason, it is important to keep your brand name short and simple. When considering a brand name, aim to keep the length at or under 1-2 words, 1-4 syllables, or 4-10 characters. The shorter, the better. 

Legibility and consistency are key elements of an effective brand name as well. Your brand name must be easy to read and shown the exact same way in all application, never altering the font, color, style, or character spacing.

A brand name is also commonly referred to as a wordmark, type treatment, or logotype.

3. Subtext/Tagline

Subtext/taglines are optional, secondary elements that provide additional information about your company. This text is often used to describe or allude to your product or service if your brand name doesn’t clearly depict it. Subtext/taglines are generally placed beneath or alongside the brand name in smaller text of a lighter weight. Your subtext/tagline could also be a memorable catchphrase that draws attention to your product or service. As with a brand name, less text is better. Generally, no more than two to four words should be used for a tagline or subtext. 

 A tagline is also commonly referred to as a slogan, subtext, or strapline.

For more examples of logo design anatomy, check out our Logo Design Gallery here.

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