What really separates a wordmark logo from a font? Sometimes, not very much at all.
You might think that über-rich companies like Facebook and Google, or high-end brands like Giorgio Armani, would invest in completely custom-made lettering for their logos. In fact, this is not
always the case.
Basing a wordmark on an existing font is a common practice no matter how high-profile your client is. As you’ll see below, it’s the little differences that matter. Lengthened ascenders
, adjusted kerning
and other such seemingly minor modifications can transform a commonplace font into the backbone of a
recognizable brand mark. Check it out:
Facebook’s logo is based on the font Klavika
. Can you spot the differences? The two parts of the “k” are merged, the
cross bars of the “f” and “a” meet at a parallel slant, and the “c” has been widened slightly. (99designs wrote about this at greater length here
Google’s logo is based on the calligraphy-inspired font, Catull BQ
. The differences are quite tiny: the cross bar on the
“e” no longer tapers at the end. It is mostly the use of color that sets Google’s logo apart.
Vimeo’s logo is closely based on a font called Black Rose
. Basically, the letters have just been squished a little closer together,
merging the “v” and “i” and leaving less space between the “m,” “e” and “o.”
No doubt you have heard of Verdana
, that font that PayPal’s logo is based on. PayPal rounded the edges of the letters to
attain a less severe appearance, and altered the bellies of the “a”s to make them a bit squarer and longer. The result looks kind of retro to us.
TMZ’s logo uses the font Amelia
. The “T” has been enlarged so it extends over the “M.” The letters may also have been
Unless there is a minuscule difference we aren’t noticing, Flickr’s logo does not modify its base font, Frutiger
, at all.
It relies entirely on color for its recognizability. (This would not be allowed in a 99designs contest
, since a license for Frutiger bold
could be purchased for far less than the prize amount).
Absolut Vodka’s logo is based very closely on one of the most famous fonts of all time: Futura
(here, condensed). If you
look carefully, however, you’ll see that the Absolut logo adds tiny serifs to its letters, making them a bit more dynamic.
Not much change to YouTube’s base font, Alternate Gothic No. 2
. The words are separated by a greater length
and, of course, there is a box enclosing “Tube” (making this not technically a wordmark … but pretty close).
Linkedin uses a bolded version of Myriad Pro
, with tightened kerning. Can you think of any other awesome companies that use
So-called modern serifs
, which are characterized by the conjunction of
thick and thin lines, have long been a hallmark of luxury branding. Giorgio Armani uses one of the most famous modern serifs, Didot LT
. The kerning is tighter and the letters in “Armani” have all been connected.
Twitter has by now shed its wordmark in favor of a standalone symbol – the bird. Definitely a good idea, if you ask us. Previously, the lettering was based on the font Pico
. The pair of “t”s and the “e” were modified.
Skype gets away with using a rounded variation of Helvetica
, perhaps the most ubiquitous font of all time, for its
logo. It tightens the kerning so the letters touch, and encloses them in a bubble outline.
Do you think these logos are sufficiently distinguished from their base fonts? Share your thoughts in the comments! You can also read more on using fonts on your website in our Guide to Google Web Fonts
This post was written by Alex Bigman and comes to you from our friends at the 99designs Blog. 99designs is the world’s largest online marketplace for design.