Wondering which type of logo variations you need for your brand? Feeling confused about which files types are for which purpose? Wondering what the difference is between web and high resolution? What if you need to use your logo over a photo? What then?
I’m here to ease the overwhelm with an easy-to-understand guide that will help you learn which logo files you need for your brand (after all, every brand is different and has different needs!)
In this post, I’ll be going over what logo variations are and the 5 most common types of logo variations to consider when creating the visual identity for your brand. I’ll also be sharing the recommended color variations and file formats!
By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of all the different logo files you’ll need for your brand!
What Are Logo Variations?
Logo variations are simply alternative versions of your primary logo. They are not much different from each other in terms of style but differ more in the layout or shape of the logo (square, circular, horizontal, etc.)
The variations you need depends on what type of business you have and where you plan on displaying your logos, which I’ll be going into more detail about in the next section.
The 5 Types of Logo Variations to Consider
There are a few different logo variations to consider when it comes to branding your business. These could be created as part of your initial brand package so that you’re ready to go right out of the gate. Or they could be created later down the road if/when your brand is in need of them.
I usually recommend 1 primary logo + a few variations (some in different colors) so you always have the perfect logo to use no matter where you plan on using it.
1. Primary Logo
Your primary logo is your most complete and complex logo variation. It’s the main logo you will use for your brand and is what any logo variations are created from.
The primary logo usually contains a combination of text (your brand name) and a graphic element or symbol, although some logo styles can be text only. It may also display a tagline and year of establishment. The layout of a primary logo is well balanced, horizontally and vertically.
This type of logo is ideal for scenarios where it needs to make a big impression and has a decent amount of real estate to work with.
Common Uses: Large displays such as a brochure cover, a shopping bag, the front of a business card, signage, etc.
2. Wide or Horizontal Logo
Next up is the wide version of your primary logo, which is often referred to as the alternative or secondary logo. In order to create a horizontal version of your primary logo, some restructuring or simplification may be required, for instance, removing the tagline.
This type of logo provides you with at least one additional option to allow more flexibility. You’d use it when the primary logo doesn’t fit or feel right in a certain context. This logo still feels cohesive and at home with the rest of your identity, but is used on more of an as-needed basis.
Common Uses: Website headers, letterheads, email signatures, social media banners, billboard signage, etc.
3. Submark Logo
Another great logo variation to have is the submark logo, which is the most condensed version of your logo. This is usually made up of just a few key elements from your primary logo and uses minimal colors. The Submark could include the initials of your business name, or it could just be the graphic element or symbol used in your primary logo.
The submark logo usually comes in a circular or square format, making it great for small displays where the primary and secondary logos become illegible,
Common Uses: Social media profile pictures, stickers, email signatures, and watermarks on your photos (great for photographers!)
4. Icon-Only Logo
This logo variation is also known as a favicon logo and is meant to be used in small spaces. It typically contains just the icon or symbol from another one of your logo variations, however, it could also consist of the just initials of the brand.
An icon-only logo can be used to support the brand in places where the business name already appears (so as not to be repetitive) and/or where the full logo would be too large to use.
For strong brands that have been around for a while, the icon could eventually become the standalone element that represents their brand, like Apple or Nike for example.
Common Uses: Your website favicon (the icon that sits in the browser tab next to the title of your website), a social media profile pic, your website footer, the backside of your business card, in your email signature, as a watermark, etc.
5. Signature Logo
The signature logo is a font-based logo that includes your personal name. It could be created from your actual signature or it could use a font that looks handwritten. You’d use this to add a little personalization to your content and marketing efforts.
Common Uses: At the bottom of a blog post, your website’s About page, your newsletter, etc.
Recommended Color Variations + File Formats
1. All-Black and All-White Logo
In addition to the design variations, it’s also essential to have different color variations of your logos. Depending on where you’ll be using your logo, you may need a full color, black, or white version of your logo.
If your logo is colorful, it may be a good idea to have all-black and all-white versions created for each of your logo files. These types of logos would be used in cases when full-color printing is not an option or if you need to use it as a watermark on top of a light or dark image.
All-White Logos on a Dark Background
All-Black Logos on a Light Background
Common Uses: As watermarks on top of photos, laser engravings, embroidery, 3D printing, textile printing, scanning, faxing, partnerships and collaborations with other brands.
2. CMYK and RGB Formats
You also want to make sure you have the proper file formats for each of your logos, so that your logo always looks good, whether you’re using it for print or digital purposes. These would be both CMYK and RGB formats.
An RGB file might look great on the web but if you try to print it, the colors might look dull, as shown below.
RGB File on the Left + CMYK File on the Right
Common Uses: CMYK is for print purposes and RGB is for digital purposes.
3. Vector Files
A vector file is a high-resolution file (300 dpi) created in a CMYK format, which is what you will need if you ever want to print your logos.
Vector files allow you to scale your logos to any size without losing quality, which means they will always look sharp vs. blurry or pixelated. You can scale them down to use in a business card or scale them up to use in a vinyl banner or large scale poster.
A Vector Logo Looks Sharp When Printed
A Non-Vector Logo Looks Blurry When Printed
You will want to make sure your designer offers the original source file (AI) for all of your final logo files as these will be editable in Adobe Illustrator (the program used to create your logo.) This means if you ever need to make any changes to anything down the road, you will have the original file in your possession to share with any designer who may be helping you
Not all designers offer these, but I offer them as part of my custom brand packages.
Vector Files Come in the Following Formats: AI, PDF, or EPS.
4. Raster Files
Raster files are smaller file types (72 ppi or 144 ppi for retina displays) that are saved in the web-ready color mode of RGB. These types of files are best for your digital purposes.
I usually recommend having a JPG and PNG format for each of your logo files. The JPG will have a white background and the PNG will usually have a transparent background so that you can use it over photos, colored backgrounds, and other graphics.
PNG File on the Left + JPG File on the Right
Raster Files Come in the Following Formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF
I hope this post helped you get a better understanding of all the different logo files you may need for your brand!
In sum, having a variety of logos created will give your brand versatility and help you present it in its best light, no matter where you use it!
Looking to Create a Unique Visual Identity for Your Brand?
As a brand designer, I work with my clients to develop one strong primary logo and then create additional variations, depending on their individual business needs. If you’re looking for a professional new brand identity for your business, I can help you plan things out and create any of the logo files you need!
For more info, feel free to check out my brand packages here!
Want to Keep Learning?
Check out some of my other posts on branding!
- Why You May Need More than One Logo for Your Brand
- What is Branding and Why is it Important for Growing My Biz?