10 top typographic logos

It's tough enough to create an effective and memorable logo design, let alone one that uses typography alone. But often getting down to the bare essentials is where the most remarkable solutions and brilliant ideas emerge. Sometimes it's a beautifully thought-out ligature that nails it, or an imaginative use of letters. At other times it's clever use of colour, scaling or re-arranging of letters or even subtly removing something from the logotype that gives it a twist of brilliance.

Take a look, and you should emerge freshly inspired and challenged to look at typography in a new way...

01. Science Museum

This recent rebrand features gradually narrowing lettering

This recent rebrand features gradually narrowing lettering

For the Science Museum's recent rebrand, design consultancy North decided to make a statement with a typographic logo that sees the lettering narrow down as the reader pans from left to right. The rebrand is part of a wider project to bring the Science Museum in line with other institutions under the NMSI (the National Museums of Science and Industry) umbrella. 

When the new logo was released, it prompted some unkind comments from Johnson Banks – the agency behind the identity scheme the museum had sported for the previous seven years – on Twitter. Although these were later retracted. Who says type can't cause a stir?

02. V&A

Typographic logos

The ampersand cleverly creates the crossbar of the A

Probably the mark that Pentagram is most renowned for, the late Alan Fletcher's identity for the V&A Museum is breathtakingly simple and brilliant. The V and A mirror each other in form and the ampersand simply creates the crossbar of the A, ridding the need for any further detail on it. Brilliant. 

The logo was designed in 1989, but remains as effective today as when it was first released. As the museum approached its 150th birthday in 2007, Wolff Olins was brought in to reinvigorate the institution's branding, but the logo remained unchanged at the heart of the scheme.

03. NME

NME logo

The simplicity of the new logo for NME magazine helps it scale well

British indie magazine NME (short for New Musical Express) is a music industry institution, and its current logo design – launched in October 2013 – simplified its well-known typographic logo further. The confident use of simplified, all-caps type, set in Sharp Sans, a sans-serif font by Lucas Sharp, assert the title's authority wonderfully.

04. Action on Hearing Loss

Typographic logos

A creative use of strikethrough makes its point loud and clear

Simply underlining or striking through letterforms can convey an enormous amount of information. In this typographic logo, Hat Trick Design's use of underlines and strikethroughs helps highlights the positive aims of the company – namely taking action to help people hear and communicate – and transforms the logotype into an inspiring call to action.

05. Cutting Room

Typographic logos

The logotype has been designed specifically to make use of the bag's corners

MadeThought captures the essence of Cutting Room's editing suite by contrasting two very different typefaces next to each other. The result is an elegant solution that is superbly executed across its website and packaging design. The identity is especially masterfully executed on the carrier bags, having been chosen to make full use of the corner of the bag. Brilliant.

06. MailChimp

mailchimp logo

The revamped logo gives MailChimp a refreshed look

The handwritten logo for popular email newsletter platform MailChimp reflects its informal and friendly nature, and along with its simian monkey mascot, forms a central part of the brand's appeal. Typography guru Jessica Hische is the designer behind the current version. 

Hische lightened the weight of the previous logo overall and improved the vector drawing, with the letterforms revised for legibility, especially at small sizes. The end result, as shown above, is a more refined, refreshed look that still embodies MailChimp's playful ethos.

07. SXSW

South by Southwest – styled as SXSW – launched as a music festival in 1987, and has since grown into a mega-event incorporating music, film and design. For a long time, the festival commissioned a new logo each year, but in 2017 the organisers asked Austin-based agency Foxtrot to create a permanent identity. The result is a clean, typographic logo with a self-explanatory directional arrow.

08. Visa

best logo designs 2014

The new logo new was revealed during an Olympic-themed television commercial

The Visa logo has gone through a few redesigns over the years, and here's the current look for the global credit card company. The new logo tweaks the classic design, removing all traces of yellow. But few will blink an eye: the iconic typography is so firmly embedded in the public consciousness that it's still instantly recognisable without it.

09. FedEx by Landor

Typographic logos

The FedEx arrow is impossible to ignore once you've spotted it

No typographic logo list would be complete without FedEx. Designed in 1994 by Lindon Leader, the then-senior design director at Landor, the FedEx logo is proof that simple, clever type-based logos can still look as fresh and smart 20 years down the line.

Impossible to ignore once you've spotted it, the FedEx logo contains a very appropriate directional arrow, indicating FedEx's commitment to speedily delivering parcels on time. Cleverly, the FedEx logo also changes in colour to indicate different sectors of the company one is dealing with.

10. Cadbury's

Typographic logos

The Cadbury's logo is instantly recognisable the world over

The big daddy of typographic logos is Cadbury. Minor tweaks have been made to this logo, based on the signature of William Cadbury, since it first appeared on transport livery in 1921. But it's remained essentially the same almost a century later – a true case of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

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