The Best of Both Worlds: Mastering the Art of Combination Logos

Not all logos are created equal. Some rely solely on text, while others use pictures to convey their message. But the truly powerful brands find the sweet spot between these two approaches. They combine text (a logotype) with a pictorial element (a logomark) to create something clear, catchy, and unique. That’s right, we’re talking about combination logos.

Logo design by KIMP

They’re the most popular type of logo in the business world. In fact, data shows that about 60% of Fortune 500 companies utilize combination logos. And for good reason. Combination logos are:

  • Versatile 
  • Easy to understand and remember 
  • And offer ample creative freedom to create something that cuts through the noise

So, if you’re looking to design a combination logo for your brand but don’t know where to start, look no further! We’ve got the perfect crash course lined up for you. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

10 Design Strategies for Creating Memorable Combination Logos

To understand these tips better, we’ll divide them into three broad steps involved in designing combination logos. 

  • Identifying what pictorial element to incorporate 
  • Finding how to blend symbol and text 
  • Bringing it all together 

Identifying What Pictorial Element to Incorporate

1. Weave your brand history into the design 

When it comes to combination logos there’s one critical question to address – what should the pictorial element be? Weaving your brand’s history into the design is one way to do it. And also the most effective way to do it. But how? There are two very popular combination logos that achieve this effortlessly: BMW and Hermès. 

In the case of the BMW logo, the inner circle in the design is a tribute to the state colors of the State of Bavaria, in the inverse order. The logo design here therefore takes cues from the home state of the company. 

With Hermès, the carriage symbol in the logo has become a timeless component of the brand’s identity. This symbol is a direct reference to the brand’s beginnings as a harness and saddle maker. 

KIMP Tip: When adding visual cues to capture your brand’s history in your combination logo, incorporate symbols or icons or even color palettes (like the BMW logo). However, when doing this, focus on telling the story clearly rather than creating something vague or complicated. Because you do not want your design to lead to misinterpretations about your brand and its origins. 

2. Focus on what your brand does 

An alternative to focusing on the brand’s heritage will be to draw inspiration from the core products or services that define your brand. Combination logos that represent what the brand does provides instant clarity to the audience.

Here are some logo designs that exemplify this idea. The first one here is the logo for a “custom salad and smoothie bar” and the pictorial elements in the logo are exactly that! 

Logo design by KIMP

The next logo is straightforward – it embeds a tow truck to represent a towing company. The custom illustration and the aesthetic framing of the logo make the design stand out. Moreover, the bright red color makes a statement and the design has a bold font that aligns with this. 

Logo design by KIMP

In both these designs, as you can see, the colors and the fonts used in the logo help amplify the visual elements in them. They also play a crucial role in ensuring that the logo does not look cliched and commonplace. 

3. Draw inspiration from your brand name 

One of the best ways to add more meaning to combination logos is to take cues from the brand name itself. This can foster instant recognition. It creates a clear association between the visual and the verbal, solidifying brand identity. 

Looking for ideas to implement this approach? Then the Doritos logo is a good example. For a quick background, Doritos comes from the Spanish word, doradito which means “little fried and golden thing”. With this brand name meaning in mind, observe the Doritos logo. Do you see the connection? The golden triangle in the logo? Well, it could also be seen as a reference to tortilla chips, the core product of the brand! 

Finding How to Blend Symbol and Text

4. Identify the right visual representation 

Selecting the perfect visual representation is a crucial step in crafting a successful combination logo. Should it be a simple icon or a symbol or an illustration of something more elaborate? This choice often aligns with the brand’s overall visual identity. 

To explain this better, here’s an example. The Salesforce logo: 

This logo uses a simple illustrated cloud as a direct representation of the fact that the company offers comprehensive cloud-based solutions. This choice aligns perfectly with the overall brand aesthetic, which heavily utilizes illustrated characters and a friendly, approachable tone. 

In conclusion, when choosing the visual representation style for your combination logo, find one that you think will look good across all your brand assets. 

5. Do not ignore the negative space 

In addition to the visual representation, there is the question of how you represent the chosen symbol or icon. About how much space this element will take with respect to the overall size of the logo. 

For this, you need to understand negative space in design and identify creative ways to make the most of it. Negative space indicates the unused space in design, the space that’s intentionally left blank. However, with logo design and the limited real estate of it, there is hardly any negative space surrounding the elements. Therefore, a good way to add depth to your design will be to make use of the negative space within the symbols and text in your logo. 

The logo below combines the symbol of an eye and a pair of hands by creatively utilizing the negative space within the symbol. This way, the pictorial element in the logo packs layers of meaning within a small space. 

Logo design by KIMP
6. Choose how the text and symbols interact with each other 

One of the most prominent elements to experiment with in combination logos is the interaction between the text and symbol. They could be intertwined as in the Lay’s logo. 

In this design, the text and the visual element create a unified image. One pro is that by seamlessly combining them you can keep the overall size of the logo small while preserving every little detail in it. The con is that these elements cannot be independently used to represent the brand. 

The other version is to keep the logomark and logotype separate. In this case, you get to experiment with the positioning of the symbol and the text – stacking them vertically or horizontally. Moreover, with consistent use of the combined version, you can slowly start using the individual elements in various applications. 

The logo below is a good example. The “f” with the floral element is the pictorial element in this case complementing the wordmark. 

Logo design by KIMP

Bringing it all together

7. Less is more in combination logos 

Simple but impactful – that’s how a logo should be. Combination logos are no exception. Considering that there is a logomark and logotype for users to process, it’s a good idea to keep it minimalistic. This way a user’s attention will not be distracted by any unwanted elements in the design. 

For instance, the Cisco logo. Did you know that the pictorial element in the Cisco logo is meant to represent the Golden Gate Bridge, as a nod to San Francisco? Such an elaborate element to capture and yet the design achieves it in the most minimalistic way possible. Minimalistic logos like this one live beyond trends, and stay relevant to the brand for a long time! 

8. Embrace flat designs 

There’s a lot of visual clutter out there. And your brand’s logo is going to appear in a variety of designs. Some are print ads and some digital. If there’s one style that can suit all these applications, it’s flat design! A recent trend especially in the logo design arena – think Pepsi, Burger King, and the numerous other brands that switched to a flat design from skeuomorphic designs (three-dimensional).

In combination logos, flat design ensures that both the text and pictorial element get their fair share of attention. Moreover, they ensure that both these elements are easily readable and recognizable at any size. 

For instance, the Burger King logo with its flat design looks good on the diverse takeaway packaging designs as well as in their social media designs. 

Need help designing versatile flat design combination logos for your brand? Get KIMP

9. Tap into the power of color harmonies 

When carefully crafting the elements of your combination logo, you cannot compromise on the overall aesthetic of the design. Colors are some of the most influential factors in logo design. Color combinations in particular! 

There are different kinds of color combinations you can choose from the color wheel and each has its own effect on the aesthetics. 

A good example is the Walmart logo. Their combination logo features a vibrant yellow “Spark” alongside a calming blue wordmark. This pair is a complementary color harmony, creating a high-contrast and visually striking combination. 

This color combination effectively attracts attention and communicates Walmart’s bold and competitive brand image.

Thus, choosing a color scheme that reflects your brand personality is another way to elevate your combination logo’s aesthetics while maintaining brand identity.

10. Stay consistent 

A logo is a foundational block in branding – in establishing a brand’s identity. The rest of the brand assets need to be planned around it. To cohesively communicate the brand message through the years. One that helps is having clear short-term and long-term goals for your brand. 

Then you would know what visual cues to incorporate in your combination logo, to accurately represent your brand and preserve your brand identity in the years to come. And this visual cue can become one that carries your brand on its shoulder even when you rebrand. 

For instance, the red hat-like symbol in the Pizza Hut logo has become an iconic element of the brand’s identity. This comes from the iconic “red roof” which became a core distinguisher of Pizza Hut outlets in 1969. And n a few years, the symbol was incorporated into the logo. Since then, every version of the Pizza Hut logo has creatively incorporated the red roof symbol consistently. 

Staying consistent this way helps preserve the brand and avoids alienating the customers. Similarly, identify the core elements of your brand, they could be the simplest details, yet unique to your brand. These are the details that can add value to your combination logo and help you stay consistent with your branding. 

Now that we’ve explored these strategies, let’s dive into some essential design principles (dos and don’ts) to keep in mind when crafting a killer combination logo.

Summarizing the Do’s & Don’ts for a Knockout Combination Logo

  • Pay attention to the clarity of the pictorial element and legibility of the text. 
  • Maintain a clear visual balance for the design to look stable. 
  • Ensure clear visual hierarchy so that the meaning is conveyed without ambiguities. 
  • Find fonts that complement the visual style of the pictorial element. Playful icons combined with serious vintage fonts or traditional imagery combined with fun and vibrant fonts can both break the harmony of your design. 
  • Choose too many font variations. Your logo already juggles text and image. So, choose one or two complementary fonts.
  • Add too many details in the pictorial element or too much text. Complicated designs are difficult to remember and are not very scalable either. 
  • Ignore color harmony. Colors that do not go well together bring down the aesthetics of your logo.
  • Use poor contrast. Too much contrast can sometimes cause visual strain and too little contrast can lead to the important details going unnoticed. 

Design Dashing Combination Logos With KIMP 

To conclude, combination logos are some of the most versatile kinds of logos your brand can get. The visual allure of a pictorial component and the clarity of text together ensure the clear delivery of your message. But yes, ideating and designing the logomark and logotype and combining them effectively takes work. 

Looking for a professional design team to tackle this for you? How does a flat monthly fee for logo design and all other branding design services along with marketing designs sound? And what if this also came with a dedicated design team? Won’t that make your design workflow so much more efficient? That’s exactly what you get with an unlimited design service, like KIMP. 

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