Cole Battles

Tips for a versatile logo

I may be biased as a graphic designer, but I believe your logo is important. It’s one of the main ways people identify your organization on your website, social media, business cards, letterhead, promotional materials like hats and shirts, and pretty much everywhere. And since you’re going to have it on many those places, it’s important for it to be versatile!

So how can you make sure your logo is easy to use everywhere? I’ve seen my fair share of logos that were versatile and plenty that weren’t. Here are a few considerations if you want your logo to be versatile.

Warning: These are rules of thumb. A professional graphic designer will know when to break these rules and when to stick to them.

Simplify your colors

A well-designed logo can easily have a single color, black and white version. In fact, if you start by designing a single-color version, it’s way more likely to look good when you do add in your brand’s colors. That means you shouldn’t use any gradients or any other design elements that absolutely have to be multi-color.

I’ll be the first to admit that some good looking logos have gradients and other design elements that require multiple colors. But generally they also have a single-color version as well.

Remember, whether or not you like gradients, they’re going to be hard to reproduce many of the places you may want to use your logo. Even on printed materials like business cards, they will end up looking slightly different on each item. So if you want to make your logo versatile, simplify those colors.

Simplify the details 

A logo on a business card that has too many details

Just like the colors need to be simplified, so do the small details. Think about how big your logo will be on a business card. The card itself is usually 3.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. Small details will be lost! And the same thing happens on social media and other places as well.

By the same token, if you’re using it somewhere large where it will be viewed from far away—like a billboard or the side of a truck—then you need your logo to be clearly seen from a distance.

In both cases, you’ll want to avoid thin lines, thin fonts, and too many colors right next to each other. All of those become difficult to distinguish  at small sizes and from far away. Your logo shouldn’t have intricate details that become blurry or disappear when your logo is made small or when it’s viewed from far away.

One good way to test this is to print your logo out at your home or office so that it’s about 1 inch by 1 inch, approximately the size of a stamp. Can you read everything? Are all the details clearly visible? If so, you should be good to go.

Make it recognizable

Is your logo memorable? When people see it do they immediately think of your organization? It should be something easily recognizable like a common shape or icon. A clean energy company might use a windmill. A pet groomer could use a paw print. A mechanic might use a wrench or other tool. The point is that people can easily recognize your industry by looking at your logo.

Make it unique

Of course, you also want it to be somewhat unique. Don’t just grab a stock icon that dozens of your competitors might be using. The last thing you want is for another shop to open up down the street that’s using the exact same logo you are.

Get common file types

The file types you have available are important. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve worked with clients where their previous designer didn’t supply them with all the common file types, and they ended up needing their logo in a different format they didn’t have. Fortunately, we were there to help.

I won’t go into all the details on when you need vector files and when you need raster files—or even what the differences are—but you do need to have both on hand.

Here are some vector file types to be sure you have:

  • .ai (Adobe Illustrator)
  • .eps (Encapsulated PostScript)
  • .svg (Scalable Vector Graphics)
  • .pdf (Portable Document Format)

Here are some raster (bitmap) file types you should have:

  • .jpg (Joint Photographic Group)
  • .gif (Graphics Interchange Format)
  • .png (Portable Network Graphics)
  • .tif (Tagged Image File Format, sometimes .tiff)

It’s worth noting that if you have your logo in .eps or .ai, just about any graphic designer can make all the rest of the file types.

Logos build familiarity and consistency, which in turn increases trust in your organization. Trust isn’t easily gained, but it is easily lost. Your logo plays a huge part in that, so making it versatile is important.

As I mentioned at the beginning, an experienced graphic designer will also know when it’s okay to break some of these rules. But they are good guidelines if you’re creating or modifying your logo.

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