Literal vs Conceptual Logo Design – Separating Pros From Amateurs by Nick Saporito
Compared to other types of design, logos are unique. A logo’s job isn’t to communicate information, it’s simply meant to be a memorable symbol that could be used to identify a brand. Because of that, it’s okay for a logo to have a bit of mystery behind it. This is just personal opinion, but logos tend to work best when they conceptualize an idea rather than literally depict it.
Conceptual Logo Design Examples
The following are examples of conceptual logo design for some of the world’s largest brands. I’ve paired each example with an example of a logo that takes on more of a literal approach for comparison.
On the surface it may appear that the FedEx logo is just a sans wordmark design, but there’s a bit of abstraction here — an arrow nestled within the negative space between the E and the X. The arrow conceptualizes the idea of delivery, whereas the example to the right literally depicts a deliver truck.
The Beats logo is another great example. This logo conceptualizes the idea of headphones on a head, represented by the letter B on a circle. It’s not blatantly obvious that this is what’s being communicated here, but that’s okay because like I said, a logo doesn’t need to communicate information. It just needs to be a simple depiction that can be used to identify a brand.
The Sugar House Casino logo is one of my favorite logos, mainly because of its use of abstraction. The U in “Sugar” and the O in “House” represent rotating digits on a conceptual slot machine. Compare that to the slot machine design on the right. It’s a nice design, but I don’t think it would work well as a logo because there’s too much being literally depicted.
Amazon is another good example of conceptual logo design. The arrow points to everything from A to Z, but it’s also a smile. A very subtle, conceptual depiction.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the Under Armour logo combines the letters U and A into a single unit. Again, it doesn’t have to be blatantly obvious when it comes to logo design.
Real Estate Investment Logo
Here’s an example of conceptual logo design that I made. This is for a real estate investment company. I took the letter Z for the name and subtly made part if it into the outline of a roof. It’s not apparent upon first sight, but that’s part of what makes it so clever.
Logos By Nick
Finally, I’ll use my own logo as an example, just to show that I practice what I preach. I am a graphic designer, which is represented by two blocks coming together. Those two blocks also represent lowercase N’s coming together to form the letter S for my initials.