Wordless logos. You love ‘em or you hate ‘em or you don’t even notice that they’re wordless. That’s the power of a strong, recognizable brand. Some of the largest corporations on the planet operate entirely on a brand identity that forgoes identifying a name of any kind. With recent news that Mastercard dropped its name and is instead relying on the classic circles as their entire brand identity, branding discussions around the move are heating up.

When It Works

Nameless brand identities do work naturally, such as for Apple whose logo is quite literally an apple: a universally known icon of the fruit that represents its name exactly. In this case, it’s a no brainer and a strong move to assert itself as a dominant brand identity. Hewlett-Packard followed suit in recent years by dropping their full name for the HP logo branded on products today, leaning in to the forward-thinking technological movement. (And probably in hopes of keeping up with the Joneses aka Apple.) Another brand in the same symbolic design boat? Target. That’s one easy (and obvious) way to brand yourself.

Certain high luxury name brands can also operate with nameless brand marks, especially when their brand voice is centered around mysterious exclusivity a la “If you know, you know.” Many of these luxury brands tout themselves on being the opposite of showy, so sometimes it makes sense to have an understated brand mark without plastering the name in bold letters on every branded piece.

When It Doesn’t Work

When you haven’t established yourself as a worldwide brand phenomenon, you’re going to face difficulties competing as a household name. It’s not an overnight raise to nameless fame; in fact, it can take multiple eras for a brand to stand on its own. Nike took a gamble when they chose to rely solely on the swoosh as their brand mark. And the gamble came 25 years after their brand was formed.

Without proper market research on your brand’s recognition, a wrong move can set you back. According to Mastercard, research led them to believe 80% of people spontaneously recognized the interlocking circle brand mark with the absence of the word “mastercard.”

Do other brands have potential to drop the brand name from their logo? Consider the recognition of some of the top brands in the US: Amazon and Adidas. Could they stand on their own? Ask your children or your grandparents to describe the logo mark from memory. If they can do so, they’re likely a great candidate. What brand’s logomark do you consider to be one of the most widely recognizable? Share yours with us at @cca_creates on Twitter!

Whether you’re working your way towards wordless logo design or not, we can help you define and perfect your brand identity. Let’s get started on your own brand discussion today.

Header Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash