The two terms logo and symbol are often confusing, taken as synonyms and used as replacements often. But, these are the only terms that are used as synonyms. there are more terms like brand mark, logo mark, type mark, combination mark, word mark, logo, logo type, brand logo, logo design, icon, symbol, pictographic and many more.
Some of us carelessly use the word ‘logo’ for all the terms used above but a few of us care about using the correct terminology and attributing the right word with the right meaning. Generally, logo is referred to and is taken as the definition of the brand identity which is the graphical element which represents different brand concepts.
Logo is a great shortcut to highlight the company instead of mentioning huge text or displaying different images. If the company does well or bad, the media only highlights the logo, and the audience understands which company logo is that and what it is about. When communicating with the client though, it is important to use the right term to avoid any misunderstandings and give the message clearly without any further questioning.
Client can say that he wants a logo for mark and you can understand it as logo mark. So, you need effective and clear communication to avoid such stupid misunderstandings and save your time and effort. You might claim that you are designing a logo type for the client where the client gets confused that he just wants a logo based on words, so for that you might need to further clarify your claim.
When you are discussing the design brief with the client, there both the parties might get confused about the difference in logo design, type mark, graphical symbol, logo mark, brand name, logo symbol and iconic style. It is very, very important that both parties clarify their points and discuss the design requirements in detail.
Different people might use different words to mean the same thing in actual. But, this wide use of vocabulary might just well add to the confusion and irritation from both ends. People even allot different meanings to the same words and use a different word each type they discuss the design brief. It is not the client’s fault and certainly not yours. Both the parties just need the terminology to make sure to understand what the client really wants and what the designer has really understood.
Summing up, there is not any major difference between a logo and a symbol but people might use it too generally or too specifically, causing in the confusion. The distinction between the two terms is only important when the parties need to talk about the identity elements in precise accurately.