Logo Design Insight – Elements

NicInsightLeave a Comment

Pictorial logos are an effective and memorable way to visually depict a company or organization. There are several different sub-categories of this style, namely abstract, character and representational.

Each of these styles has their own benefits and drawbacks, and allow for a
customized depiction of a brand. Representational depictions are the most obvious depiction, incorporating an element of a brand’s name, beliefs or services. Mascot logos can also depict a component of an organization’s name, however they can also be a more abstract totem who primarily functions to endear potential customers to the brand.

Abstract logos are a choice in logo that has been gaining popularity over the last decade or so. They are often simple, memorable depictions of a company that would be otherwise hard to find suitable imagery for. These companies would otherwise have settled for a solitary wordmark.

As previously stated, the key to these logos is simplicity. Most viewers of our logos will give only a passing glance to them, so its important they remain simple and impactful.


Wikipedia / Old Spice logo example
MINI / Perrier Logo Example
Timberland / Shell logo example
An Representation Pictorial Logo is…

A visual depiction of a brands name, service, product or theme.

Terms Referencing This Style

Literal, Obvious, Archetypal

Representational logos provide a totem to instantly inform viewers of the name or function of your brand. They are a time tested means of providing a visual identity to your company or organization. When executed properly, they provide a simple but impactful image of your organization. They also allow for your logo to have meaning without needing to be accompanied by a wordmark.
These logos can depict a brands name or product in a memorable manner. They can also highlight a theme or feeling that a brand would like their potential customers to embrace. This can be a great asset to a brand who’s name does not provide instant insight into their primary function.
One drawback to this manner of representation is that they do not leave much room for the imagination. This disadvantage can be negated by producing the symbol in a non-traditional manner, or by depicting an item that wouldn’t be obviously associated with their owner.


United Health Care / Santander logo example
HSBC / Cisco Logo Example
Cingular / bp Logo Example
An Abstract Pictorial Logo is…

Non-representational symbols that visually depict a particualar brand trait or ideal

Terms Referencing This Style

Conceptual, Theoretical, Hypothetical

The easiest way to describe the concept of the abstract logo is to compare them to representational logo design. While the lader can be charcterized by the thing they depict, the former is normally described by the shapes that they are constructed from. This difference highlights the benefit of abstract logo designs, emphasis can be placed on beauty rather than likeness.
Their non-literal depiction of a brand allows for more viewer interpretation than traditional symbols. They can also stimulate more interaction with the logo. Rather that being instantly digested, abstract logos can be lingered upon. They often appear as a visual puzzle, causing the viewer to pause and try to decipher what they represent.
They do, however, require more of a marketing budget to be properly associated with one’s company on their own. While a sea shell can obviously be associated with Shell Oil, a swirl or squiggle could in some ways be a representative of any entity. A strong logotype and lock-up can help alleviate this weakness.


Girl Scouts / Merril Lynch logo example
Red Bull / Izod Example
Wendy's / Michelin logo example
A Mascot Pictorial Logo is…

An animal, person or thing adopted by a brand as its representative symbol.

Terms Referencing This Style

Charachter, Spokesperson, Brand Ambassador

A mascot logo isn’t appropriate for every business, but you don’t have to be a sports team to reap the benefits of a lovable character that represents your brand. Companies in sectors with high levels of competition, like insurance agencies and restaurants, often enjoy having a likable persona to help sell their services.
Having a likable representative can help soften an otherwise cold and serious business. When it comes to schools and charities, they can help with levity and raising money. However, a mascot doesn’t have to be a cartoon character. Financial institutions and political parties use bulls, eagles and even donkeys to provide a powerful, majestic face to their enterprise.
Mascot logos provide a powerful and memorable face for a brand. Whether fun or serious, they provide an instant insight into what a company is about. They also provide a versatile marketing tool, being able to be animated for advertisements or manufactured as promotional schwag.