You've got a great brand. You know what your logo means, how it's supposed to look and feel, and how it can be used in different contexts. But there's one problem: Your brand doesn't exist in a vacuum. It needs to be able to adapt to different situations, and that means having multiple variations of your logo so it'll always fit into its surroundings properly. Luckily for you, we've provided you with this guide on how many kinds of logos your brand needs, why they're important, and which ones are best for certain uses!
The primary logo is your brand's most important logo. It’s the one that represents the core of what your company stands for, and it’s used most often in all kinds of marketing materials— website headers, social media avatars, brochures and business cards.
The primary logo should be easily recognizable by anyone who encounters it. You want people to instantly recognize that a product or service comes from you as soon as they see one of your logos on a billboard or newspaper ad or website banner. If there's any doubt about where something came from after seeing it once or twice, then chances are they won't remember (and you won't get much business out of them).
Alternate logos are not to be confused with secondary logos. A secondary logo is an additional visual identifier that represents a brand in a more specific capacity, such as when creating a new range of products or services. On the other hand, an alternate logo is used in place of the primary logo under certain circumstances or contexts.
Alternate logos should be created using the same design principles as your primary logo—they just need to look different enough so they can be identified as different from one another at first glance. But don't get too crazy: if you create too many variations of your original mark, consumers might start getting confused about which one stands for what (and then they'll probably stop caring altogether).
A submark logo is a secondary logo used to represent a specific product or service. It is typically smaller than the primary logo and may be used alone or paired with the primary mark. Submark logos are often used to differentiate between products and services, but they can also provide visual clarity for different messages about your brand experience.
A wordmark is a logo that uses only typography, rather than any image or illustration. Wordmarks are typically used for brand names or taglines, but can also be used for logos.
A wordmark is different from a logotype in that it uses more than one font, which would make it considered an identity system. Although a wordmark may include multiple fonts and colors, it should never include images or illustrations (unless they are part of the brand name).
The brand icon is the most important part of your logo and the most recognizable element. It can be an abstract, simplified, and stylized representation of your brand with a distinct visual language that makes it instantly recognizable to people who have never seen it before.
The brand icon can be used in marketing materials like flyers, posters, banners and advertisements; on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter; on websites as favicons (the tiny icons next to tabs); as desktop/mobile wallpapers; or even as stickers on laptops and smartphones.
Black and White Variations
In addition to the color variations, you can also choose a dark or light version of your logo. These options are great to ensure your logo and its elements are easily visible in black and white. Should your logo be printed or shown in black, for example, all the key assets of your logo should be easily recognizable by the person viewing it.
You may be wondering why we aren’t suggesting using different gradients, patterns, or textures in your logo. The reason is that these elements should be used sparingly when designing logos (if at all). A solid color will make it easier for people to identify with your brand because it’s more relatable than more abstract elements like gradients or textures.
Your brand needs all of these logo variations to succeed.
Your logo should have a lot of different variations that can help your customers become more aware of your brand in any situation. They should know what colors or symbols they can easily use to recognize you.
Your main (or primary) logo is the main logo—the one you use most often.
Your alternate (or secondary) logo is a less prominent version of your main one that’s good for use in print or on dark backgrounds where your main logo can't be used based on space or sizing. It can also be used as an accent mark in marketing materials, so people know what brand they're looking at without having to fully read it (like when designing an ad).
Your submark logo or “badge” is a smaller symbol that represents your company, often used with its parent wordmark (the full name) or icon in logos like Nike's swoosh, Apple's apple silhouette and Rolex's crown icon. They may also appear alone as part of an identity system; if so, they should be designed with simplicity and consistency in mind to avoid confusion between multiple marks within the same system (for example: how many times have you been confused by two logos featuring different fonts?).
Your wordmark logo is simply your main logo without any images or icons - strictly typography.
Your brand icon is your submark by itself, without any brand wording or taglines, or brand descriptors surrounding it.
We hope you enjoyed this post on logo variations. If you have any questions or feedback, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!