How to Say More with Your Logo

Image Credit: martince2/

Symbolism is a standard design features that will set an extraordinary logo apart from an ordinary one. They say actions speak louder than words, but when it comes to logos, symbolism speaks volumes.

Today we’ll go over a few symbols, decipher their meaning and see how they were made into a commercial success. We will talk about how symbolism helps a logo stand out as it is an integral component of many famous logo designs.

Distinction Between Symbols & Symbolism

Many people make the mistake of thinking a symbol is the logo itself; that’s not always correct. In fact, a logo is actually a collection of symbols merged together to form a graphic shape. This shape then becomes the symbol for a company (or what it’s representing). You can see how this may be easily confused.

Symbols Impact Humans Visually

The human mind is curious by nature. Our history is full of ancient symbols that we have spent decades deciphering in order to understand the message behind it. Using symbols in a logo design has a similar effect. It invokes the need to determine what the logo symbolizes and stands for.

Utilizing Symbols In Logo Design

A symbol can be anything, but a good symbol will be easily associated with a specific company. The meaning of the symbol will also be easily conveyed. Animals are a great example of symbols within logos.

symbolic logo design

Take the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) logo for instance. The organization uses the image of a panda to stand for its message of peace and preserving life. People can easily look at the logo and understand the relation of the company to animal welfare. A panda, being a loving and rare animal, also gives the feel of welfare and safety. In the same way, objects can be used in logos to convey a theme and a message. Another example of this is the table lamp in the Pixar logo.

symbols in logos

The Target logo utilizes the symbol of a target, including the bulls-eye.  The symbol represents a variety of things including precision, aim, goal and win.

nike logo symbol

Most are familiar with Nike’s logo. Even without the text, the swoosh alone is instantly recognized. The swoosh design has many meanings such as accuracy and speed. The most important meaning being ‘right’ or ‘correct’ as in the right choice, or the right way.

Apple logo design symbol

Apple’s logo is another great example of symbolism in logo design. Today this logo symbolizes sleek and innovative Apple products. The apple is a slightly controversial symbol. Many associate it with Newton’s Apple, the forbidden fruit from the ‘Garden of Eden’ or the fruit from the tree of knowledge and so on. Some may see Apple’s logo in a different light, but in the end it stands for knowledge.

symbols in logo

The E!TV logo is one of my favorites. It is so simple and unique and its symbolism speaks volumes. The logo is a simple exclamation point and can be taken in a literal sense. Symbolizing excitement, importance and urgency of the news the channel spreads. Gossip and celebrity news tends to be exciting, don’t you think?  😉

Final Word

To get a better understanding of symbols, graphic designers should browse through brand logos that are internationally recognized. Understanding the client’s niche and industry is also a very vital component of logo design. It can help you create a symbol that the audience can relate to. Symbols are one of the most dynamic tools available to logo designers today. They should be used to create a brand identity for a company, since they go a long way in capturing a target audience with their depth, message and theme.

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