What are alternate logos and why do you need them?

Is one logo enough to build a brand? The simple answer: no. When we tell potential clients we don’t offer standalone logos, the next question is usually, “Why? A logo is what you recognize in a brand, why would I confuse my customers/clients/viewers?” but this is not the case. Let’s do a quick exercise. Think about your logo (or what you picture it as). Now think about how it’s going to look on signage on a storefront. Good, right? Letterheads and business cards? Still good… Now let’s take it a step further. Social media profile pictures? Will it still look good there? Chances are it’s going to be just that teeny bit too small to read. Now; branded pencils, name tags? What’s that going to look like? Are you starting to get the picture? The more places you’re going to stick your logo (and you’ll be wanting to stick it all over the place), the more variations you will need. And we’re not talking completely different logos with different colours or fonts, merely about the structure and elements, and how they are put together. The use of alternate logos allows you to optimize your brand presence across any platform, stay present wherever your business is, and ensure consistency in your branding. Let’s dive into why exactly you need alternate logos & what I mean by them!

Why do I need alternate logos?

Having one static logo is not practical in any way. As our exercise above illustrated, having one logo only leaves you with a very, very small chance that it’s going to look good on all applications. The three basic, entry-level logo variations you ideally need in your brand kit is
  1. the main logo,
  2. an alternate, and
  3. a brand mark or favicon.
This will cover you for most possibilities. If your main logo is configured in a square or vertical fashion, your first alternate should ideally be horizontal, to fit on letterheads and in spaces where a square logo would be too small to read. And vice versa, if your main logo is long and horizontal, your alternate should be square. And the third, a brand mark or favicon is a very simplified version of your logo, that can be shrunk down to app icon size, or browser tab size or used as a stamp, and still be recognizable.

The larger your business, and the more applications you’ll be using your logo on (merchandise, stationery, screens, banners, cars, billboards, emailers, packaging, promotional material… the list is endless), you might need to add a few extras, but those three should cover you for the most part.

The next factor is also in what realm you’ll be using your logo, and that determines file type. A logo that is configured for screen viewing, won’t print accurately. A logo that is designed in full colour, might not be able to print legibly in black and white. You might need to add your logo over a photo or other file – you’ll need a filetype with a transparent background. So essentially you should receive an arsenal of logos that can be used in any and all applications to ensure accuracy and consistency across the board.

Check out the different design file types & why you need them by clicking here!

Are you starting to see why you need more than one logo? Let’s break down what kind of alternate logos we’re talking about and common uses for them!

Main logo

Your main logo is the primary logo that will represent your brand.

This will more than likely be in the form of a wordmark, with some graphic element if the logo requires it. You’ll use this “umbrella” version most often, and this is the logo that is designed first, with the rest following that. We’ve broken down logos and variations with our brand ID as an example below.

Real-life applications: Website, newsletters, stationery, signage

Alternate logos

Alternate logos are variations of your main logo. These should look and feel similar to the main logo but can be different in terms of layout and color. There will be situations where spacing or color is limited for your logo, so it’s great to have an alternative one on hand.

Real-life applications: Social media picture, printed collateral, merchandise, Google advertisements

Favicon or brand mark

Favicons are icons associated with the brand’s URL and are displayed in the web browsers address bar. Because these are so small and can only be a max size of 64 x 64 pixels, favicons are usually a simple letter, icon, image, or small submark. This can be a signle letter or acronym to represent your brand, or simply a mark or icon that is representative of your brand.

Common uses: signatures, website URL, stamps

How do I know what to use where?

Your brand designer should supply you with a brand identity document outlining which logo is ideal for which application, and further than that, let your eye guide you. If you are struggling to read a logo in a certain situation, chances are some of your audience will experience this too. In essence, if you put all your logo variations together on one page, they should look like different renditions of the same design. Consistency is important for brand recognition but it’s also important for your brand to LOOK GOOD on all platforms. Thank you for reading. If you’re having trouble understanding some of the concepts, please reach out to us! You can pop us a mail at hello@herstudio.co.za or send us a DM on our Instagram.