Most people associate a brand with a logo. However, a brand is not just a logo. A logo is only one visual representation of your brand, but it is not the only one.
You may believe you only need one main logo to represent your brand, but once you try to implement that single design, you'll quickly realize you need quite a few more. The shape and particular layout of your logo, will not fit properly on everything. For example: If you have a logo that is very circular in design, however you have a piece of marketing material that requires you to fill a horizontal area, you will be left with way too much space making the logo look too small.
While a logo is a unique visual representation of your brand, it can and should take many forms. This is where logo variations come into play.
You have probably come across terms like "submark" and "alternate logo" listed in a branding package while looking for a brand designer, then left a little perplexed as to what the designer was referring to, let alone what those logos would consist of.
Below I will outline the four distinct logo variations that every brand needs to complete its brand identity.
What’s a Logo Variation?
A "logo variation" is a variant of your main logo design. The variety allows your brand to be cohesive, consistent, and recognizable in a variety of settings. It increases your adaptability.
Think of it this way: your social media image, your website, and your business card may all require different logos in various shapes and styles. Rather than relying on a single logo to do everything, your brand can be more adaptable by creating several logo variations.
Logo variations can include a variety of colors, sizes, and formats, but every brand needs four main logo variations.
A great graphic designer wants to create a brand identity for you that consists of at least four non-negotiable logo variations to help your brand stand out and look consistent no matter where it appears.
Now, let's take a look at each of the logo variations your company definitely should have.
Building your logo variations begins with the creation of your primary logo. This is your most complex and detailed logo. It will also be the one you use the most. It's your go-to logo and the front-and-center representation of who you are as a brand, from bold signage to corporate T-shirts.
If your primary logo contains color, don’t forget to also have a black-and-white version on hand. This is referred to as a reverse logo and it is very important to have. You won't realize until the time comes when you go to place your logo on a dark background and realize you need your logo text in white in order for it to be legible.
To highlight the importance of your primary logo, make sure it has enough breathing room and isn't overpowered by other design elements. Yes the main logo should be captivating and adaptable, however that does not mean that you have to overpower your business name with tons of graphics. A logo should have little to no graphics in it. Clients need to remember your business name. YES, I said it, no graphics!! Just because you sell a particular item, does NOT mean you have to have a graphic of that item in your logo. Check that it will look as good in a small setting like a website header as it does in large print. Let your business name be the center of attention, NOT the elements in the design. Elements should be subtle if any at all. When you think of high end brands, most never have a graphic or element in the logo. Simplicity is key and it will also help with keeping your logo timeless so it doesn't look outdated in years to come. If you do really want a graphic in it, stay away from cartoonish, mascot or caricature designs. That style will get outdated very fast and don't give off a professional style at all. I personally cringe when I see logo designs with a caricature, but to each their own. Simple line drawings or something of a modern nature is best.
The next time you drive around your town or go to a mall, I encourage you to look at the successful stores or restaurants around you. You will notice a common denominator in all the logos, simplicity.
Sample of my main logo:
Secondary Logo or Alternate Logo
After you've created your primary logo, it's time to create a secondary logo. The main goal of a secondary logo is to have a different layout than the primary version.
For example, if your primary logo is horizontal and has a symbol next to the words, the secondary logo can be stacked and have a symbol above or below the words.
Regard the secondary logo as a reﬂection of the primary logo. It should have the same fonts, lime weight, and overall aesthetic to maintain your brand persona consistently. A secondary logo will be useful when space is limited or your primary logo does not fit the space.
Different areas have different logo space requirements; for example, a horizontal logo may be better suited for a letterhead template or business card. A vertical, stacked logo might be better suited for a social media profile image. In this sense, your secondary logo exists to support and fill in the gaps left by your primary logo, which cannot fit or does not look the best.
It can be placed on business cards, invoices, and mobile website header, or anywhere that your main logo "just doesn't fit right".
Sample of my Alternate Logo:
Once your primary and secondary logos are finalized, it is time to create your submark. This is the most simplified and condensed logo variation, and it will be useful when you need to fit a logo into a small space, both in print and digital.
The most common types of submarks are circles with text or initials and/or symbols and submarks that are only symbols or the graphic used in your logo. They are commonly used as footers or watermarks in print, and they also make excellent stickers. A submark is ideal for use in digital spaces as a social media avatar or when you need to use your logo but want it to look more refined.
It can be placed on social media posts/profile images, website footer, or in small print pieces.
Sample of my Submark:
A favicon is a small icon that appears at the top of a web browser and placed on a website's URL tab. It's usually just a symbol or a letter. A Favicon is a very small icon and space is limited so this can not be a elaborate detailed design.
A favicon's purpose is to serve as a visual reminder of the brand's identity. It can also help your customer or user find your website easily if they have multiple tabs open at the same time.
Consider it the best of both worlds. A favicon allows visitors to quickly locate your website while also increasing brand awareness and identity.
Sample of my Favicon:
Now that all your important logos have been created to visually represent your brand, a simple brand guide is provided. This will provide you with the hex code of your color palette and the typography used in your designs, along with any elements or patterns used.
Sample of my brand guide:
If you're unsure how to proceed, I am here to help and you can check out my logo branding packages at the bottom of this page.
I hope this article was helpful for you. Best of luck on your branding journey!
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