Logo DNA – The Making of a Logo

With the recent unveiling of Starbucks’ new logo, we thought we would talk to you a little bit about the elements that make up a logo.

Logos are a graphical representation of a company’s image. 

Some logos are created with just the company name or initials, while others have brandmarks, sometimes called symbols or icons, attached to them.  Some logos are whimsical and some are formal.  When you look at different company logos, what feeling do you get about the company?

Logos tell a visual story of the company that they represent.  Starbucks’ new logo with just its display of the Siren, is much like Nike’s swoosh or Target’s bulls-eye.  Without the names of the company attached to their brandmark, you know without a doubt what company that brandmark represents.



Within the topology of brandmarks, there is no set rules on which approach is best for different companies.  This is because each brand is unique, even among like companies.  At the end of the day, it’s important that the design solution respond to the problem that needs to be solved.



Below are some examples of different company brandmarks.

Logo Icons


(shown in the Google logo) – A freestanding acronym, company name or product name that has been designed to convey a brand attribute or positioning. Other wordmark logo examples are IKEA and eBay.



(shown in the Univision logo) – A unique design using one or more letterforms that act as a mnemonic device for a company name.  Other letterform logo examples are IBM and UPS.



(shown in the TiVo logo) – A mark in which the company name is inextricably connected to the pictorial element.  Other emblem logo examples are LEED and Elmer’s Glue.


Pictorial Marks

(shown in the Apple logo) – An immediately recognizable literal image that has been simplified and stylized.  Other pictorial mark logos are Twitter and NBC.


Abstract/Symbolic Marks

(shown in the Target logo) – A symbol that conveys a big idea, and often embodies strategic ambiguity.  Other abstract/symbolic marks are Nike and Sprint.

In the end, the most successful logos are those that resonate with your target audience by getting them to pick up the phone and call you because they are drawn to your brand.





Gina O'Daniel

Gina is an award-winning designer and brand strategist with over 30 years experience in the design industry and has worked with small start-ups to large corporations both nationally and internationally to ensure their logos, business sets, marketing materials, signage, display advertising, social media design and website work together to ensure brand identity and maximize the company's image potential and profit.

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