Illustrative Logos

Using an illustration as part of your logo. The design ‘full monty’

Illustration based logos are usually more complex and detailed than their iconic, graphic or text-based counterparts, and are a highly-rendered pictorial representation of some aspect of the company being portrayed. To develop the concept for the illustration, we can focus in on the name, the business concept or a company character or mascot that can be developed. Graphic design purists sometimes frown upon illustrative logos, and often with good reason.

This type of logo is often used inappropriately or in instances where they simply won’t work. Often, many new to the logo design process want to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ at their new design – a visual version of ‘the more the merrier’. Inexperienced designers can often Illustrative logo examplecreate fully illustrative logos without giving thought to the client’s market segment, the types of usage planned or the overall effect on their corporate image. It’s certainly true that Illustrative logos are NOT for every application or branding scenario. Having said that, there are times when an illustrative logo is not only appropriate, but it’s the one and only solution (right: logo for Chimpanizee SSP zoo project).

Effective illustrative logos.

When developing an illustrative logo, it’s not just the drawing itself that’s important. The artwork has be visually ‘comfortable’ with appropriate text work and the typography featured. The illustration needs to be self-contained enough to be effective as a stand alone design. And even though these kind of logos often require a full color palette, the final digital artwork and files need to be technically ‘savvy’ enough to work with a wide-range of applications.

Illustrative company logos require a full array of logo file formats and setups so that they can be integrated with other artwork – from full color to linear black and white. Developing an illustrative logo requires the attention of a designer who’s familiar with all logo types and the ramifications of each – creating a illustrative logo is not just making a ‘pretty picture’, slapping on some font work and hoping for the best. When working with illustrative logos, it’s also possible to create a logo ‘sub set’ – a series of simplified logos that are based on the original version and applicable when use of the full version is impractical or cost prohibitive. For more examples see our illustrative logo gallery.

Illustration logos – some pricing notes.

As opposed to other logo types, illustrative designs require an additional step of preliminary sketches, more designer time and any major modifications involve starting the project from scratch (see here for an illustrative design case study). Each project requires the selection and approval for the initial sketches before digital rendering and addition of textual and color elements Steve Dahl illustrative logo exampleAccordingly, illustrative logos are only available through our professional logo packages and higher. Illustrative logos are generally not available with our entry logo packages. There may be certain instances when we can accommodate you if the illustration is not very complex, or if you have preliminary sketches for us to work from. If you require clarification on types of logos, or our pricing policies, don’t hesitate to contact our studio.


Easier to create ‘unique’ illustration. Less risk of imitators.
Appropriate for whimsical, mascot or cartoon logos.
Is more effective for ‘fun’ establishments (bars, restaurant logos, clubs, sports logos, etc.)
Once established, has a very high recognition factor (characters, mascots.)
Easier to copyright.
Less likely to infringe on other copyright, and/or be confused with other designs.
Lends itself to logo variations and situations (i.e. characters in various poses.)
Text portion of logo, if designed effectively, can stand alone as an icon design or text logo.
Lends itself to traditional animation (though complexity may add to cost and development time).
More likely to be seen as a cool logo & popular on wearables, incentives.


Take longer to develop which often translates into more expense.
Slower to visually ‘absorb’. Requires repeated exposure.
Less likely to be recognized later after limited initial exposure.
Requires very experienced graphic designer with developed illustration skills.
Runs risk of looking amateurish if not illustrated effectively.
Requires skillful text addition and integration.
Requires designer with technical knowledge for reproduction contingencies.
More difficult to trademark the logo (unless a truly unique concept featured in illustration.)
May be difficult to reproduce on low resolution media (FAXs, checks) while remaining recognizable.
Color is integral part of design – difficult to edit or change colors.
May be difficult to convert to black and white.
While spot color reproduction may be utilized, most highly rendered illustrative logos require 4 color process printing.
Is more difficult (costly) to animate and may not lend itself to 3D.
Is more difficult to recognize when reproduced at small sizes or from distances.
Less effective for logo embroidery and requires a higher stitch count to reproduce.

Other logo types

Text logo example

Text logo example

Text logos are visually the simplest logos (and often favored by Fortune 500 corporations). Paradoxically, their simplicity can be misleading as these logos can be enormously difficult to design. Your designer is limited in the ‘tricks of the trade’ that are available, so the font driven design requires someone with a ‘mature’ level of design experience . In terms of marketing your new company, text logos also have the bonus feature of promoting your company name extensively without being cluttered with heavy visuals and graphics..

Text logo example

Text logos can also utilize visual accents

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Iconic logo example

Iconic logo example

Iconic logos generally feature highly simplified graphics (symbols) that reflect an aspect of the company and/or product portrayed. They can be used solo, or with text. This form of logo is perhaps the most common (a slim margin over graphical), yet often the most difficult to design and requires the services of an experienced designer. These logos are most effective when your design is to be featured at a small size, or in low-resolution reproduction..

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Graphic logo example

Graphic logo example

Graphic logos are, in the practical sense, somewhere between an iconic and illustrative logotype. These logotypes are very visually appealing – detailed enough to be recognizable, yet linear and technically simple enough to translate into most media usages. It’s a ‘toss up’ between graphical and iconic logos as to which is the most popular and/or common..

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Keep in mind..

The categories presented in this section are meant as an overview and generalization of the infinite possibilities. As in all manners of creative design, there are no absolutes and this area is meant for reference only. Should you require assistance in selecting the right type of logo for your business, company or service, contact our client support.

Examples of Illustrative Logos

Pulled from our Design Galleries. Click on images for project details.

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