Mark, logo and signet – everything the same?

Hand paints the word Brand on the wall

The term signet is derived from the Latin word "signum", which means sign and can stand for a signature or a seal (pictorial representation). It is often very abstract in the representation and stands first alone for itself. A signet is therefore a graphically, typographically or numerically simplified/stylized sign. The connection to a certain company, person, organization or name is only "learned" through dissemination in connection with the company name and products or services. "Learned" because the viewer/customer must first make this connection and then learn and mentally store it through frequent repetition. Well-known examples of a signet are the Mercedes star, the Shell shell or the Nike hook (aka "swoosh"). A signet is meant to identify a product, service, or company and clearly distinguish it from its competitors. In addition, it is often seen as a mark of special quality. The sole use of a signet is therefore more advisable for companies with a strong market presence and widespread use. A combined sign consisting of name and signet is therefore the more sensible variant for less well-known companies, here the signet serves as an additional eye-catcher.

The term logo is derived from the Greek word "logos", which means "word/speech", i.e. it consists of a word or a part of a word. The logo or "word mark" is thus a recurring, combined combination of numbers or letters. This is provided with features that are as unique as possible in order to highlight the focus and advantages of a company or institution. A logo can never consist only of a signet / figurative sign.

Logos are basically divided into 4 types.

The letter mark

Single letters (often abbreviations) which alone do not make a logo, only a characteristic design can create originality and distinctiveness for the viewer. Well-known examples of this are IBM, ADAC, LEGO and C&A.

The word mark

One of the most common forms in the design of a logo, makes use of the name of the company of the product or service. The characteristic design of the lettering is also very important here in order to give it sufficient individuality. Well-known examples of this are the Coca-Cola, CASIO, CANON or IKEA logos.

The number sign

Is used rather rarely, since the memory process of the viewer lasts substantially longer to bring a number with a company, a product or a service in connection, since numbers pass on only their value with the reading to the reader. Letters, on the other hand, can convey much more to the reader. Well-known examples of this are, for example, the Kabel 1 logo, the Pro 7 logo or the Hannover 96 logo.

The combined sign

The best solution for most areas of application, since the combination of word, letter or number signs with a signet/figurative sign significantly increases the memorability for the viewer. The viewer now associates the two visual stimuli of the figurative and word signs with the company, product or service, making it easier to remember them later on. In addition, a combination can achieve an even better differentiation from other companies or products. In addition, the signet serves as an eye-catcher that is very quickly perceived by the viewer.

A brand is never just the logo alone, it is the sum of all the ideas that a logo, an advertisement or similar evokes in the viewer, or should evoke. The logo is a combination of emotions, memories and impressions that are associated with the logo by the viewer and create an overall image of the company or product, thus making it clearly distinguishable from other companies or products.

Trademarks can be legally protected by registering them in the trademark register. A logo can be registered as a trademark according to Paragraph 3, Paragraph 1 of the MarkenG:

All signs, in particular words including personal names, illustrations, letters, numbers, sound signs, three-dimensional designs including the shape of goods or their packaging as well as other appearances including colors and color combinations, which are suitable for distinguishing the goods or services of one company from those of other companies, can be protected as a trademark.

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