8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

by Mark Stephens

All the paperwork and resources are ready and your business is about to take off, but there’s one thing that you might be missing out – your brand logo. Small but mighty, the right logo design can create a strong connection between your brand and prospective customers, in the form of a visual image. While there are hundreds of logotypes to choose from, the two main forms are – image or iconic logos and letter-based logos.

Iconic logos, as the name suggests, use figures or images to convey a message about the business they’re representing. Similarly, letter-based or wordmark logos use a single letter or a combination of letters (typically company name or initials) to represent a brand. Both these logo types are popular and preferred by businesses around the world, but there’s something about lettermark logos that make them so memorable and striking. Since there’s no use of figures or icons in their designs, they typically use a bold typeface and color scheme to make their mark. In this blog, we’ll talk about some legendary three letter logos and how they’ve left an impact on our minds. 

Ingenious 3 Letter Logos that Deserve Your Attention

Looking at these famous three-letter logos will give you an idea about the design you want. You can also save and send a copy of these power brand logos to your logo designer as a reference. When planned and executed professionally, a three-letter logo can do wonders for your business. Just look at these eminent logo designs from different sectors like tech, finance, fashion, gaming, and more.

KFC

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

Kentucky Fried Chicken, widely recognized as KFC, is a renowned brand of fast food restaurants with its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, US. The very first KFC logo was designed by Lippincott & Margulies in 1952, which included the stylized face of Colonel Sanders – the originator of the fast food chain. The logo had a plain black and white color palette, with the brand name “Kentucky Fried Chicken” in a plain typeface. It was not until 1991 that the now famous abbreviation “KFC” was included in the logo. This was probably done to drop the word “fried”, as it depicted an unhealthy food choice.

The color palette was also changed to red, black, and white, along with a kind of horizontal gradation. In the latest redesign of the KFC logo in 2018, its shape was changed to trapeze and the emblem was refined. The white and red backdrop features three vertical lines, the Colonel’s face is more refined and friendlier, and the italicized KFC wordmark is positioned below it. The KFC logo is catchy and tempting, evoking a sense of warmth, friendliness, and hospitality.

NBA

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

NBA or The National Basketball Association is a 70-year old innovative sports league, helping drive the growth of basketball around the globe. The first logo was introduced in 1950, which was composed of a round emblem, depicting the entire basketball. The red lettermark was positioned on its upper and middle sections, leaving the base free. The top section had the datemark in bold fonts, with the words “National” and “Association” slightly arched along the stitches. The word “Basketball” was in a straight line, printed in capitals of a bold sans-serif typeface.

The current iconic silhouette NBA logo features Jerry West, the renowned basketball player from the LA Lakers, on a white, blue, and red backdrop – the three colors of the American flag. The logo uses a customized font type, similar to Helvetica Pro Black Condensed. It also looks close to the Horrible Jefe Font. Upright, dynamic, and functional, this 3 letter logo design is used extensively in NBA ads, tournaments, and video games.

IBM

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

IBM, a stalwart IT corporation from the United States, was founded in 1889 as ITRC or International Time Recording Company. One of the biggest IT organizations in the world, IBM or International Business Machines Corp. offers a range of computing solutions and technology consulting services for its clients. Founded as a result of a merger of two companies — International Time Recording Company and Computing Scale Company, its first logo featured a sleek and elegant ITRCo monogram, designed in a plain serif typeface and a monochrome color palette. There are currently two different versions of the logo.

1st Version (1972- Present)

 The current IBM logo that we’re familiar with had its origin in 1972. The famous 3 letter logo has the letters I, B, and M, written in bold capitals. The logo has a linear look with equal space between the letters and eight horizontal stripes running through it. The stripes stand for the speed and quality of their services. A highly symbolic logo, the blue and white color palette evokes a sense of strength, professionalism, stability, trust, and intelligence. 

2nd Version (2018- Present)  

Launched in 2018, this second version of the IBM logo is not quite as familiar as the first one. This is a rather strict version of the logo with the brand name “IBM” enclosed in a thick, black rectangle. The bold lettermark stands for the trust and stability that IBM offers to its customers. The three letters I, B, and M, are in simple, bold style, with the top and bottom ends of the letter ‘M’ extended. 

Both of these versions of the logo are scalable and look perfect on life-size billboards as well as small product labels.

MTV

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

An icon in pop culture and a strong influence within the music industry, MTV is an American music channel that has been bringing the latest and best music videos to viewers around the world. The first MTV logo was created in 1981 by Manhattan Design, a collaboration formed by Frank Olinsky, Patty Rogoff, and Pat Gorman under the supervision of MTV’s then creative director, Fred Seibert. While the ‘M’ was designed by Rogoff, the ‘TV’ was spray painted by Olinksky. Since the introduction of this first logo in 1981, it has remained unchanged, with only minor alterations in 2009. Here, the letter “M” was made wider with the objective of fitting various images inside the logo. This way, the channel could create as many personalized logos as it needed, depending on its theme and visual context. 

The redesign of 2021 brought a simple yet powerful version of the iconic MTV logo. The 3-dimensional letter “M” is now made flat, retaining the previous monochrome color palette. The “TV” part of the logo is still placed on the right vertical leg of the “M”, designed in smooth and broad white lines. Apart from the standard black-and-white color palette, the wordmark is often placed inside a yellow box.

YSL

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

One of the world’s most renowned and acclaimed luxury fashion and cosmetic brands, YSL is named after its originator, a famed designer Yves Saint Laurent. With an annual revenue of over one billion USD, YSL has a classic brand identity that’s as chic and luxurious as its products.  The original logo featured a monochrome palette with the wordmark and an emblem, designed using just three letters of the founder’s name – YSL. As for the typeface, it used a custom sans-serif font, which looked similar to New Yorker with long, modernized lines. It also boasted the iconic emblem with three entwined capital letters, using the same lettering as the wordmark, only with bolder fonts.

The current version of the YSL logo was designed in July 2012, containing a shortened version of the name of the famous fashion house – Saint Laurent. It also included an elegant wordmark “Paris”, in a different typeface. The white color stands for the brand’s charm and purity whereas black depicts its style and sophistication. Unfortunately, this new logo has been condemned by design experts and fans for being too basic and boring.

HBO

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

One of the oldest pay television networks in the US, HBO or Home Box Office has built a strong customer base despite several challenges and hardships. One of the main reasons behind HBO’s success is its influential logo that has remained untouched since 1980. Designed back in 1972, the very first HBO logo was created using the full name of the company. The wordmark “Home Box Office” was placed inside a rectangular box, depicting a stylized version of a lighted marquee. There was a ticket stub beside the word “Box”, which promoted the concept of a comfortable home cinema.

A new version of the logo was designed in 1975 by Bemis Balkind. It featured the acronym “HBO”, emphasizing the fact that the channel had already gained great recognition and did not need to use the complete name for identification. The letter “O” on the acronym is cut into the “B”. Last modified in 1980, the letters “B” and “O” in the logo were changed to full letterforms, although they were still attached to each other. It has a sans serif uppercase bold typeface, which looks like a highly customized edition of the Avant Garde Gothic.

BBC

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

The BBC or British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service channel with its headquarters at Broadcasting House, Westminster, London. It is the leading broadcaster in the world, with approximately 23,000 staff working for them. Their chief responsibility is to provide impartial public service broadcasting across the United Kingdom. The first BBC television logo was designed in 1958, which featured three black squares with bold and italicized “BBC” on them. The letters looked brilliant due to the striking monochrome contrast and the balance between the clean blocks and the traditional letter font. 

The current British Broadcasting Corporation logo was designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn in 1997. Here, the blocks are black and square, as it was in the original edition, designed by Abram Games. The letters got thinner with more refined contours in Gill Sans font, which lent a fresh and elegant look to the logo. The news logo features the brand name, with each letter placed in a square box and uppercase “NEWS” at the bottom. The letters are written in white on a bright red background.

CNN

8 Exceptional Three Letter Logos to Inspire Creativity

Cable News Network, commonly referred to as CNN, is a top American cable news channel with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the most acknowledged and influential news channels in the world, CNN has over 200 million subscribers across 212 countries. Crafted by the noted graphic designer Anthony Guy Bost in 1980 for approximately $2,800, the logo has remained mostly unchanged since then. Planned in less than 2 days, the iconic logo features a striking lettermark which mentions the brand name in a bold, rounded custom typeface. Its unique design and effectiveness make CNN the most powerful emblem for global broadcast news. While the red color in the logo depicts power, passion, and courage of the brand, the white color represents truth, perfection, professionalism, and supremacy.

Conclusion,

These were some of the biggest brands around the world that made the best use of 3 letter logos. Clean, crisp, and super focused, these lettermark logos have played a big role behind their brand’s success. If your company’s name is a mouthful, definitely consider using a 3 letter monogram logo. No matter what you desire or plan, always get your logo designed by a professional logo design agency or personnel. They have the knowledge, skills, and experience of working on a wide range of projects, which is a sure bet for your brands’ success. 

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