You're here because you know that branding involves so much more than just one single logo design. We all know great branding when we see it, but let’s break it down a little and discuss what logo variations you actually need, how they can each be used, and why they all matter.
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Your primary or main logo is the most detailed and complex version in your branding. It includes your full business name and your tagline if you have one. It could also include your location if you have a base that clients or customers can visit - especially if you’re a bricks and mortar shop or an in-person service based business. It can either be text based or include text and an illustration, this all depends on your business and the style . It might be a single colour or use your colour palette, this again depends on your business, customers, and style.
Your primary logo sets the tone for the rest of your branding, and each of the logo variations should link back to this detailed design in some way, whether that’s the imagery used, fonts, or overall theme.
Where to use it
As you would imagine this is usually the version that goes at the top of your website as the first visual that’s seen on the page and the version you would always use on large print items where you have plenty of space to play with. Because this design is the most detailed make sure there is plenty of white space around it to give it room to shine.
Your secondary logo is often a simplified version of your primary logo, it might have less text or less detail but will still look similar to your primary logo using the same font and overall theme. It could also perhaps be orientated to the left or right rather than centred, or could have text that is stacked rather than written out in a line.
Where to use it
The idea with this version is that it can be reproduced at a smaller size and still be legible, or that with it being designed slightly differently it takes up a little less space so can be used on smaller print items or perhaps on the mobile version of your website. Any time there is slightly less space for you to play with, but you want to use your full business name, you would use your secondary logo.
A circular logo version isn't always essential, but it is a version that I like to include in the branding suites I create for my clients.
It can include your full business name perhaps with imagery or an illustration from your primary logo in the centre. Circular logos are great for adding a hint of branding to a design without having to stick your detailed main logo front and centre.
Where to use it
They’re especially useful for product-based businesses on packaging designs, stickers, and ink stamps, or they can add a subtle hit of branding on social media or blog post graphics.
As a service based business, if you create a lot of printed materials, or digital downloads a circular logo can be great for adding a watermark to a page without needing to use your full logo.
A submark can be a very simplified version of your logo, or perhaps a monogram design. It’s used to provide a subtle hint of branding and this is where your branding goes from a shout, to a tantalising whisper.
For some businesses ‘shouty’ branding works, it suits their product, it quite literally is part of their brand. However, if you landed here I’m guessing it’s not part of your brand. A more holistic and wholesome way to brand your business is not to ‘shout’ at all the people, but to whisper directly to your ideal audience, and only to them.
Branding submarks are where you are quietly conveying only the values and meaning behind your business. For example, a business using organic ingredients in their products might have a submark that contains leafy, natural elements along with the businesses initials. Submarks can vary wildly depending on your brand, but very often they don’t contain your full business name. Often they will contain only the first letter, or the first letter of each word, or they can contain a simplified tagline, or a few words that convey your brand values in place of the business name.
Where to use it
They can be used in much the same way as circular logos, on the back of product packaging, stickers, social or blog graphics, website footers; anywhere that you full business name is not needed, and anywhere that you want your branding to be a little more subliminal and a little less in your face.
A distinctive submark or monogram design is a nice, subtle way to brand products themselves. Think of luxury brands like Chanel that brand their bags with the double C monogram, so distinctive and much more stylish than using a full logo design.
Icons can be similar to submarks, again it all depends on your brand. They might include only a small illustration from your main logo design and they’re great to use as the favicon on your website; anywhere that only a tiny hit of branding is needed and the logo is going to be shown really small.
There’s also the opportunity in your branding to create a set of icons that convey different parts of your business. If you’re a website designer this might be the stages of your web design process, or if you’re a handmade business, they could show the different stages that are involved in creating your product. The icons would be in a similar style to your logo using your branding colours and you can have them anywhere you want to explain more about your business, like in a brochure or on a page on your website.
Where to use it
Website favicon, website footer, social media profiles, brochures and web pages.
Other branding elements
For some businesses there might be the need to create further logo variations, or other stylised graphics. These elements might be text based and say something like ‘handmade with love’, or ‘made in London’, anything that fits in with your brand really. Product-based businesses will often need extra designs like this to use on their packaging and website to explain more about how or why the product has been created.
It’s important to have these elements fitting in with the theme and design of all the other logo versions so that your branding looks cohesive across the board. They should use the same fonts, colours, and theme, but don't need to contain your business name. They are supporting elements that add more context and explain more about your business.
Where to use it
Product packaging, website, brochures and printed supporting materials.
Why do all these versions matter?
You might feel quite overwhelmed at the prospect of having so many variations, however, there is no real wrong way to use any of these elements. As long as you stick to using your main logo in the most prominent places and when you have lots of white space to play with, and using one of the more simplified versions when you have less space, you can't go far wrong.
It's important to have variety within your branding and for it to be well considered and well designed. We are all now so visually intelligent and we are fed branded imagery on a daily basis through TV, magazines, and the internet. Good visual branding coveys a level of professionalism that will help you stand out and attract the right people.
Your brand is a complex thing and it would be far too much to include all those facets of your business and your values all within one main logo design. Just as your branding also uses colour, photography, and tone of voice to promote a certain emotion and reaction from your audience, having just one logo version leaves you no room to show off all of the amazing things your business is.
Think of it a bit like you having to wear the same outfit from now on, forever. You'll probably want to wear clothes that are in the same style and that suit your vibe, in colours that compliment you, but you don't always want to wear the exact same outfit. Think of your primary logo as your favourite pair of jeans, or that dress that just fits you perfectly. They get worn a lot, but they aren't the only thing in your wardrobe that makes you look and feel good.
If you're looking to brand or rebrand your business I'd love to hear from you! Send me a message here.
If you're not quite ready to dive into professional branding, you can download my FREE branding guide - The Blossoming Brand Blueprint. Download it here.