Logo vs icon vs symbol: all the logo terms you need to know

Selection of famous logos
(Image credit: London Underground, New York Yankees, Shell, Coca-Cola, Wendy's, Bacardi, NBC)

Within the worlds of branding, typography and visual identity, the terminology surrounding logos can be a bit overwhelming. You've likely heard terms like logo, icon, symbol, wordmark and emblem thrown around, often interchangeably. However, each of these terms carries a distinct meaning, and understanding the nuances can be crucial for effective communication and decision-making when it comes to a brand's visual assets.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll go back to basics, and explain all the terms you need to understand. That way, you'll be able to talk about logos with confidence in front of colleagues and clients alike. 

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.