The photographer logo or wordmark is the foundation of your visual identity — the visual representation of your company’s brand and core values. A logo can drive the look and feel of all your marketing materials. After all, it appears anywhere your business name appears.
Table of Contents
- A Photographer Logo: The Core of a Brand’s Visual Identity
- What to Consider Before Designing a Photographer Logo
- Logo vs. Wordmark
- The Photographer Logo as a Wordmark
- The Photographer Logo As a Pictogram or Ideogram
- How Font and Colors In a Wordmark Can Represent a Photography Brand
- Using a Tagline
- Incorporating a Specialty into the Logo
- Registering a Logo with the US Trademark Office
A Photographer Logo: The Core of a Brand’s Visual Identity
The photographer logo is part of the collection of assets that makes up your visual identity that will be integrated throughout your marketing materials. These visual assets include your logo and its color scheme, font, graphic elements, even the tone or style of your photos, and the way you present yourself to your audience.
Whether you use an ideogram (e.g. Nike’s Swoosh), a pictogram (Johnnie Walker’s walking gentleman), or a wordmark (e.g. Coca-Cola), the logo should be used on all your marketing materials. Since it’s so frequently used, your logo needs to encapsulate everything you want your overall brand to represent. If you make sophisticated, high-production photos, then your logo should be minimal and sleek (e.g., Josh Letchworth, or Irwin Wong).
What to Consider Before You Design a Photographer Logo
Designing a photography logo begins with brainstorming ideas while keeping the big picture in mind. Ask yourself several key questions:
- Who is my brand’s audience? What clients do I seek?
- Do I want to attract younger, start-up companies or more established corporate clients?
- What do I want my photography logo to communicate to them?
- Should the logo focus on my specialty or style?
- How do I want to accomplish that?
Always consider your target audience when thinking about your logo design. It can help to consider the brands you want to attract to ensure you select a design that will appeal to them.
Logo vs. Wordmark
The Photographer Logo as a Wordmark
What is a photographer’s wordmark? Instead of using imagery for your logo, it makes your company’s name into the logo itself. Perhaps the best example of an effective wordmark is Coca-Cola, instantly recognizable. The words Coca-Cola or Coke are stylized in a unique font that stands out. For other examples, consider eBay’s or FedEx’s.
Handwritten wordmarks can be very compelling, and they can be versatile. The only rule is that handwriting must harmonize with the rest of your brand’s visual identity and, of course, be done well. Consider the following examples: Suzanne Clements’ uses a light and airy font but maintains a clean design aesthetic. Matt Furman’s wordmark logo uses a quicker brushstroke which gives it a more autographic style. When paired with the clean-cut sophistication of his website, this is an excellent example of how handwriting can be used wisely.
The Photographer Logo As a Pictogram or Ideogram
Non-wordmark photographer logos can be categorized into pictograms and ideograms. Both types include a graphic or image that can stand by itself, if the company is well-known, or go with the text.
Pictograms are often literal — the imagery used is easily linked to the business name. For example, Instagram’s pictogram imagines a camera. Apple Computer’s logo is an apple with a bite out of it.
A photographer could use a camera as their pictogram (but we don’t recommend that). If you want to get more specific, an architectural photographer could use a building for their imagery.
Consider the following photographer logo examples: Cherry Li’s pictogram is the imprint of a cherry. It’s cute, simple, and memorable. Another example is Bailey Garrot‘s logo which shows framing hands.
A professional photographer’s logo could also use an ideogram, which is less literal and more symbolic. One excellent example of an ideogram is the Nike Swoosh. It doesn’t represent anything but conveys graceful movement. An ideogram is composed of shapes and graphics that abstractly represent your business. Some examples include Nike’s iconic swoosh logo, Mercedes-Benz’s three-pointed star, and NBC’s abstracted peacock logo.
There’s an appeal to ideograms like the Nike swoosh for their ability to be instantly recognizable across language and culture, not to mention versatile – looking great at any size and wherever you put it. However, for photographers who aren’t already well-known and who don’t have a billion-dollar marketing budget, a thoughtfully designed wordmark will give you the best chance to make a memorable impression.
How Font and Colors In a Wordmark Can represent a Photography Brand
The basic rule here is to pick a font and carry it throughout the branding package.
Fonts generally fall into three categories: serif and sans serifs. Serif fonts have flags or tails at the tips of each letter, e..g. Times New Roman. San Serif fonts have clean letters with no flags or tails, e.g., Helvetica. Each type of font imparts different feelings or meanings to your brand. For example, if you want a vintage or traditional look, a serif may be a good option for your wordmark font.
We more frequently recommend sans-serif fonts. For a sleek logo, a sans serif is minimal and simple to match. If you opt for an unconventional photographer logo, you’ll need simplified text to keep your overall aesthetic grounded.
To use color, first look at the tone of your photos. For everything to work together as one brand, see what colors attract you naturally in your photographic process. Are your images warmer- or cool-toned? What palettes do you often use in your photos?
Next, think about what colors you like. Personally, I think there’s no better color combination than blue and orange (maybe green and orange if I really want to mix it up). I tend to start with those colors within my branding work and build from there.
In a logo design for Heather Perry, I took color samples of her paintings which were displayed on her old website. I knew she would love those colors because she already used them for almost all her projects. The colors appeared in many of her photos, so they all naturally worked together.
Using a Tagline
A tagline is a catchy slogan like Nike’s “Just Do It” and Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” Taglines are most commonly used in advertising campaigns for large brands but are usually unnecessary for photographer logos. Most commercial clients want less pageantry and more sophistication so leave a tagline out of the logo unless it ties your brand and visuals together in a meaningful way.
Incorporating a Specialty into the Logo
You may consider incorporating your specialty into your logo. The risk with incorporating specialties is potential clients may confuse the photography business with the specialty portrayed. For example, a set of silverware in a logo might make someone think of a restaurant or market, not a photography business. This is where the pictograms come into play.
Chicago-based architectural photographer Serhii Chrucky does a great job showing an abstract structure. It doesn’t scream architecture, but once you look through his site and get an idea of his specialties, the symbolism becomes clearer.
All the same, it also depends on the specialty. Connecticut-based adventure and landscape photographer Christopher Beauchamp uses a much more recognizable symbol: a mountain. If he used a hiking boot, our minds would have gone to an outdoor apparel/gear brand. If he had used a gondola, we would have thought of a ski resort or Venice. Mountains are not usually immediately identified with a particular industry, providing room for a photographer to represent their specialty.
Registering a Logo with the US Trademark Office
If you are concerned with logo infringement, consider registering your logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. While your logo is protected as a common law trademark upon creation, the trademark ™ and registered mark ® give you a higher level of protection from copyright infringement through legal recourse. If a designer creates your logo, the copyright is transferred to you upon completion. If your logo is a wordmark, there may be no need to register.
Whether you decide a pictogram, ideogram, or wordmark logo is best for you, be sure to get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues before committing to a particular logo design. Hang it on the wall and look at it for a week as you go about your daily routine — this sort of time and distance can help you decide if the design you have selected will still resonate with you in years to come.
Forbes: 15 Effective Tips To Come Up With A Logo That Fits Your Brand
Design Mantic: Do’s and Don’ts Of Wordmark Logos
Fast Company: The Secret Reason We All Care Deeply About Logos
99 Designs: Everything You Need To Know About Trademarking a Logo
About the Authors
Lindsay Thompson is a graphic designer and illustrator with a specialty to brand identity and logo design. While she has been an avid doodler for decades, her love for design stemmed from a career as a photographer.
She is also a designer and photo editor at Wonderful Machine, an art production agency with a network of 600 photographers in 44 countries. If you need help with your social media presence, you can reach out to them via email.
Polly Gaillard is a fine art photographer, writer, and educator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught photography workshops and college courses including summer study abroad programs in Prague, Czech Republic, and Cortona, Italy. She has exhibited her fine art photographs nationally and published a limited edition artist book, Pressure Points, with a foreword by actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Polly’s photographic skills traverse contemporary art, documentary, portrait, and traditional photographic practices. You can find more of Polly’s work on her website and connect with her via LinkedIn. This article was also published on Wonderful Machine and shared with permission.