If you’re building a new business, or rebranding your current company, thinking about your new logo will likely be at the top of your to-do list. Especially at the beginning of starting a business, it can be tempting to save a little money and use a crowdsourcing platform to get an out-of-the-box logo design. You’ll get one logo, you put it at the top of your website, you print it on a t-shirt, done!
Unfortunately not. As your business grows, you’ll find out that using just one logo isn’t enough to support all the ways you need to represent your company. That’s where logo variations come in.
With just a little more strategy and planning at the beginning, you could have not only a great logo but also a whole visual toolkit to help you to build a strong brand identity straight away. A good logo designer will work with you to understand your brand and create various logo design variations. These aren’t necessarily different logos, but more improvements and tweaks that are still completely recognisable as part of your primary logo, but that help your brand identity work in any situation.
Why logo variations are so important
You may think that having different variations of a logo would make your branding weaker, not stronger. But it’s actually the versatility of having different logo variations that keeps your brand identity strong and recognisable. By using a different variation of your logo on your invoices or your packaging, changing the shape, layout and colours to fit with each example, your brand identity will be more balanced and pleasing on the eye. Your customers may not even notice all the different variations you have as part of your brand identity, because it looks so natural and just works. Whereas a single logo stretched awkwardly across your social media profiles or flyers will get noticed straight away, and not for the right reasons! Show your customers you have an eye for detail and have built a brand with care through your logo variations.
How to make logo variations work for you
Depending on your business, it may surprise you how many different places you can (and should!) show your brand identity. You can use a logo variation with a square layout for your social media profiles. While a variation with a horizontal layout might work on documents. Different colour options will also be useful when you're working in print and online.
As your business grows, you might find more and more opportunities to add your brand identity to different printed or online material that you’ve never considered before. If you have a strong and clear brand identity from the start, expanding your brand into new forms will be simple. Even working with external designers will be a breeze if you already have a file of logo variations to fit every eventuality. You’ll be safe in the knowledge that your brand identity will never be compromised.
The ultimate list of logo variations for your business
Here’s my list of all the logo variations you might need for building a strong brand identity for your company. You might not need all of these depending on the size and scope of your business, and some variations may overlap with your primary logo. If you work with a professional, you can figure out what’s best for you and the needs of your business.
The face of your company. This logo will usually include both a wordmark and an icon, perhaps even a tagline too. You’ll use your primary logo most often, to introduce new customers and welcome returning customers to your brand.
Sometimes it's handy to have an alternative logo which is usually a subtle variation in some way to the primary logo. It helps to keep things fresh by using your visual branding elements in different (but cohesive) ways.
Some logos may already have a horizontal layout, but if not, you’ll need a wider design to work where space is a little more limited. Think letterheads, Facebook cover photos, or print adverts.
A logo variation with a tall or square layout is great for social media profile photos or website headers and footers. Having a more compact logo variation can be helpful for printed material too, where you have to work within strict sizing and layouts.
An icon is crucial for your company and has so many uses. There’s so many situations where you want to include your branding, but don’t have a lot of space to do so. You can really have fun with icon variations - why not try creating a repeating pattern to use as a website background or for packaging.
When you don’t have enough space to use your primary logo, but just an icon won’t do, your wordmark is the perfect compromise. It’s a practical way of keeping your brand identity strong and recognisable.
Colour is a vital part of any brand identity and I love using colour in my branding work. But having a single colour variation is important for using over photos to keep your logo clear and visible.
Black and White
Sometimes it's useful to have a black and white, or greyscale version of your logo. If you often use photocopiers for worksheets or other printed material, a strong black and white logo will keep your copies looking sharp.
While many companies decide on a small range of brand colours, some others might want to have more fun and show their logo in many different colours within their brand palette. Setting out the rules of colour variations will help to keep your branding clear, while still being creative and fun.