Showcasing tips

So, you finished a logo and now you need to showcase it. Perhaps it goes into your portfolio, on Behance or Dribbble, or perhaps you need to present it to a client. Either way, how you present it can be important because it will add to the overall impression of your design. Presenting a stunning logo in a bad way will make the logo look less impressive, and presenting a half-decent logo in a visually appealing way, will make the logo look far more impressive. Worst case scenario, your logo might be perceived as amateurish and bad, even if it’s really good, so spend some time on the way you showcase it, it will be time well spent.

Whitespace is crutial!

The absolute most important thing to remember when presenting a logo is to give it enough room to breathe, and you do this by adding white space (negative space) around it. There are no rules to how much white space you need around a logo, but it’s better to add too much, than too little, because you really need to go to the extreme before too much, is actually too much.

In the examples below you can see the difference between good and bad use of whitespace, and the effect it has on the logo. The purpose of whitespace is to separate the logo from everything else, so you don’t get distracted when viewing it. Even if you don’t want to create fancy presentations of your logos, you have to at least pay attention to the whitespace.



Inverting

One of the easiest ways to make your presentation just a little more interesting is to make an inverted version and place it next to the original. This works really well if your logo is solid black, but even if your logo has colors you can use this method. Not only does this make it more interesting to look at, but it also serves the purpose of showing how the logo can look in different contexts.


Guidelines and measurements

Another popular method of showcasing your work, is to have visible guidelines. This method isn’t appropriate for all occasions, but if you have the opportunity to show multiple images, this is one way to spice it up, while showing a little bit about how the logo is created.

If you’ve used the Fibonacci sequence (Golden ratio) to create your logo, you can take this a step further, by showing you how you have used it. Just like the simple guidelines, you might think that nobody cares about this, but aside from it looking visually more interesting, adding guidelines, and showing the use of the Fibonacci sequence especially, will likely impress the viewer, because suddenly the development of the logo will seem far more complicated.


Construction

Many logos are created by combining different elements, and just like showing guidelines and measurements, this is a great opportunity to impress the viewer and give them, almost a behind the scenes look at how you work.


Backgrounds and mockups

Adding a background image to your logo presentation can also make a huge difference with little effort. Just make sure that the image relates to the subject, it doesn’t steal focus from the logo, and that parts of the logo don’t disappear into the background, for instance, if the logo is white, and there is a white patch behind it on the image. Two easy ways of going about this can be to desaturate the image partially or completely, and either darken or lighten it up a lot.

Using mockups to showcase your logos is also a great way to show how it looks in the real world. Adding context using a mockup will oftentimes also make it easier for the client to see the potential of the logo. There are plenty of free mockups available to download around the web, but if you want to make sure that your mockups haven’t been used a million times by others, you can also buy premium mockups, and make your portfolio a bit more unique.


Multi-frame layouts

Using multi-frame layouts can be a great way of showcasing your logo if you are limited to a single image, or you just want to draw more attention to it and make it more intriguing for the viewer.

Multi-frame layouts are particularly popular when showcasing your work on social media, such as Instagram and Dribbble, and a 3 frame division is usually a safe way to go about it. Combine different ways of showcasing the logo, so it’s not simply just three frames with the main logo, but with different background colors.

Here are two examples of a multi-frame layout, but the possibilities are endless, and you can style them to fit any type of logo and expression.


Bonus tip

A quick bonus tip when showcasing your logo is to consider using dark grey instead of black. This simple trick can make a huge difference in how stylish the logo look, and you get the best result when the grey is just dark enough to still be perceived as black, even though it’s not.


Just do it!

Obviously, there are endless ways of showcasing your logos, these are just some basic examples and tips to get you started. Use your imagination, look at how other people do it, and always make sure to go the extra mile to present your work the best way possible.

Quick tip: Slogans and taglines

When you need to add a slogan or a tagline to a logo, it’s important to keep it at the bottom of the visual hierarchy, so it doesn’t steal focus from the more important elements. These are some basic tips on how to achieve this easily.

I’ve used the random name generator to come up with a fake company name and added a slogan to it.

In this first example, I’ve used the exact same font for the name and the slogan as our starting point, and obviously, this doesn’t work. There is no visual hierarchy, but creating it is easy, and we have several ways to achieve it.


Scale

Working with scale is one of our options to create hierarchy, and simply by scaling the slogan down, whilst keeping the same typeface and weight, instantly achieves this.


Weight

Weight is also a great way to create contrast and hierarchy, but usually, the weight alone doesn’t work.

In this example, I’ve kept the same typeface and size, while only changing the weight, and even though there is contrast between the name and the slogan, and more emphasis on the name, the slogan is still stealing too much focus from the name. However, if we combine the use of weight with scale, the result is incredible.


Tracking

Tracking, or letter spacing if you will, is another great tool at our disposal. As with weight, tracking alone won’t do the trick. In the first example, I’ve kept the same typeface and weight for the name and the slogan, but scaled the slogan down and added tracking to it. This result is also pretty great, but you can push it even further by decreasing the weight as well.

If the slogan or tagline is really long, be careful with the tracking, as this will make it even longer, and scaling it down to fit the name might end up making it unreadable. The good news is that for long slogans and taglines, scale and weight is usually enough to achieve a great result.


Bonus tip

If your name is written with a condensed typeface, a good rule of thumb is to use a wider typeface for the slogan or tagline, as it creates far better contrast and hierarchy doing this.

There is obviously more to this topic, but I hope these quick tips will be a help to get started adding slogans and taglines to your work.

The meaning of color

This is not a comprehensive lesson in color theory, quite the opposite actually. Consider this your online notes on the meaning of the different colors, and come back to it whenever you are in doubt and need a quick overview of them all. If you want to learn more about the theory of color, stay put for a future lesson on the subject.

The list will be composed of keywords, rather than detailed descriptions and explanations, so you quickly can skim through each. Note that multiple colors can have the same keyword attached to it and that this is not a mistake.


Red

Action, energy, speed, attention, assertive, confident, energizing, stimulating, exciting, powerful, passion, drive, courageous, strong, spontaneous, determined, danger, war, desire, love

Pink

Romance, love, friendship, feminine, compassion, immature, playful, admiration, caring, nurture, acceptance, calm, tenderness

Orange

Sunshine, joy, tropical, enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, stimulation, adventurous, balance, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding, attention

Yellow

Youth, fun, joy, sunshine, cheerful, energy, optimism, enthusiasm, confidence, creativity, challenging, academic, analytical, wisdom, logic, intellect, positivity, spontaneity, happiness, opportunity

Green

Safety, harmony, stability, reliability, balance, nature, growth, freshness, fertility, safety, vitality, renewal, restoration, sympathetic, compassionate, nurturing, generous, kind, loyal, adaptable

Blue

Trust, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, security, stability, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, peace, harmony, conservatism, order, cleanliness, immortality, masculinity, protection, tactful, reliable, caring, idealistic, orderly, authority, devotion, contemplation, calm, honor, melancholia, depth

Purple

Imagination, spirituality, compassion, sensitivity, mystery, royalty, power, nobility, luxury, ambition, wealth, extravagance, wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, magic, spirituality, ceremony, transformation, enlightenment

Brown

Earth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, stability, simplicity, honesty, natural, down-to-earth, wholesome, practical, approachable, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, protective, sensual, reassured, sincere, quality, relaxing, genuine

Gray

Neutral, practical, conservative, formal, quiet, safety, reliability, intelligence, melancholy, modesty, dignity, maturity, soundness, functionality, impartial, professional, classic, solid, stable, calming, reserved, elegant, dependable

Black

Power, control, authority, discipline, elegance, mystery, sophistication, formality, wealth, fear, anonymity, depth, style, remorse, sadness, anger, underground, grief, death, protection, comfort, strong, contained, seductive

White

Goodness, innocence, purity, virginity, perfection, safety, purity, cleanliness, faith, reverence, peace, humility, precision, youth, equality, complete, whole, simplicity, immaculate, pristine

Nothing is important

White space is as important as any other element of logo design, and white space alone can take your logo design from looking mediocre, to professional. The same thing can be said about excess graphical elements, or clutter, which also can make or break your design.

In this article, we will take a look at clutter and white space, because the absence of content is not something to leave to coincidence, it has to be designed as well.

Clutter

Beginners have a tendency to overcomplicate logos by adding too many elements and details to it, when in reality, logo design is about simplicity, and rather than thinking what you can add to a logo, you should be thinking how much you can remove from it. Make it a habit to look at a logo and ask yourself if the logo will still work if you remove an element from it. Keep doing this until the answer to this question is no.

Here are some examples of super simplistic logos:

Pepsi, Adobe, McDonalds, Nike, Target

One of the reasons for this behavior usually comes from a lack of theoretical knowledge, so you run the risk of being too literal in your design, rather than utilizing symbolism, color theory and so on, to make your logo convey what is required. Another reason is the inability to prioritize what is most important to include in the logo. There is a limit to how much a logo can convey, so you need to work out what is the most essential values and emotions to include, and not be afraid to leave other less important things out. As with any rules, there are exceptions, where you actually want your logo to be as literal as possible.

Here are some examples of litteral logos:

Shell, Apple, Penguin, Red Cross, Puma

Here are a few guidelines to follow:
If your logo has a symbol or icon, don’t add graphical elements to the text.

WordPress, Hewlett Packard, Toyota

If your logo mainly consisting of letters, only add 1 graphic element or detail to the logo.

Amazon, ESPN, FedEx

Make sure to account for the sizes your logo will be viewed in, so your elements don’t get too small or detailed to be able to see properly in smaller scales.

As you get more experienced with logo design it gets easier to design without worrying about clutter and too many details, but as a beginner, it’s not a bad idea to have some general guidelines to stick to, and these are what I recommend. Soon enough you will break these “rules”, but by then you will have learned how to keep a logo simple, even while adding multiple graphical elements or details.


White space

Also known as negative, or empty space. This is also very important to pay close attention to when designing a logo, and even more so when placing the finished logo on a website, a business card, a poster or anywhere else.

White space is simply the absence of content. It’s the empty gaps in between elements, the space between the logo symbol and the company name, and it’s the space around the entire logo as well. White space is just as important as the logo itself, and it helps the logo breathe and allows it to be viewed within its own context, without other elements fighting for attention or distracting the eye. This is also one of the main reasons why you need to create a style guide to go along with your logo, so your client will know how much space to allow around it.

Learning to use white space efficiently takes practice, and the best advice I can give you is to simply look at inspiration and notice how white space has been utilized. Pay attention to the proximity and hierarchy of elements created by using white space.

To give you a starting point when working with white space, I have two tips for you. For wide logos like wordmarks, using the height of the logo as the measure of white space on either side usually is a good place to start. On logos where the height and width are about the same, measuring the longest of these and dividing it by three usually works pretty well. This tip is by no means a rule you should follow blindly, just a place to get started.

Asana, Snapchat

A bonus tip that I can give you, is to try to zoom out a lot. If the logo still looks like an individual element, and not as if it is connected to anything else, you are on the right track. If you want to see more examples, I suggest you Google “Famous Logo Style Guides”.

The different types of logos

Learning the names of all the different types of logos is not the most important thing to focus on when you start out designing logos, you will pick it up eventually, although, as with anything else, knowing the terminology will make you sound more professional, which can be beneficial when communicating with clients.

Acquiring general knowledge of the different types of logos is valuable, as you will have a better understanding of which type of logo is ideal for your next project. Depending on who you ask the number of types will vary greatly. Some people like to think about types of logos more generally, while others divide certain types into separate, more specific types. I want this article to be as comprehensive as possible, so I will be looking at more specific types, and go through 10 different types of logos.

So take notes, or bookmark this page for future reference, and let’s dive into the topic.


Brand mark / Logo symbol / Logo icon / Pictorial mark

Brand marks are logos consisting of an icon or a graphic symbol that tends to be quite simple, usually depicting a real-life object. Often times a brand mark is very literal, like in the examples below. Brand marks are mostly used by well established and well-known companies and are used alongside a version that also displays the company name next to it, called a combination mark. A brand mark is what most people think about when they hear the word “logo”, and it’s the result of a company reaching high enough levels of recognition, to be able to leave out their company name and still be recognized by their brand mark alone.

Designing a logo for a new, or lesser known company, it is advised not to go straight for a brand mark. If the intent is to, at some point in the future, have a brand mark, you should start out with a combination mark. If the company reaches the required level of recognition, you can detach the company name from the symbol, and use it as a brand mark then.
Picking the right symbol for a brand mark, or combination mark is very important. Even though rebranding is a possibility, a company usually keeps the core element or symbol of their original logo, so be cautious of what you choose.

Examples of brand marks: Apple, Shell, Target

Abstract logo mark

An abstract logo mark is really just a subcategory of a brand mark and in reality not so much a type of logo, as just a specific design style to an already existing type. The only real difference between a brand mark and an abstract logo is that the brand mark is usually depicting a real object and not an abstract shape. Most people will refer to an abstract logo as a brand mark, but since you will often see a logo referred to as an abstract logo, I thought I would include it in this list, regardless of it basically being the same as a brand mark.

Examples of abstract logo marks: Pepsi, Nike, BP

Mascot logo

A mascot logo is a type of logo that is particularly popular in sports, especially hockey, basketball, football, and esports, but is also used frequently within the food industry.

Mascot logos consist of some sort of character, animal or person. In sports, animals are popular because of their well-known characteristics. A cobra is flexible and venomous, a cheetah is agile and fast and a bull is strong and fierce. A mascot for a team is usually designed to strike fear in their opponents, and make the team look strong. Within the food industry, however, mascots are usually chosen to be very family friendly and welcoming, and will often be used as the main character to promote a product or restaurant.

Having a mascot logo also creates an obvious opportunity to have a real mascot, which is popular at sports events, or occasionally visiting your local restaurant.

Examples of mascot logos: KFC, Pringles, Boston Celtics

Wordmark / Logotype

A wordmark is a text-based logo created by a custom designed font or an already existing font with modifications made to it. It puts the name of the company in focus, thus creating name recognition, and this type of logo works great with shorter company names, usually, but not limited to, one-word names. Catchy and unique names are also a great fit for a wordmark logo, while longer names or names that might prove difficult to pronounce would be less ideal as wordmarks.

Wordmarks might be the most common type of logo and are often perceived as “easy to design” by people not working in the design field, but creating a unique and memorable wordmark is far from easy.

Examples of wordmarks: Visa, Kellogg’s, FedEx

Lettermark / Monogram

A lettermark is a subcategory of wordmarks, and basically the same, the difference being that a lettermark does not consist of the full company name, rather an abbreviation of it, which is also why it’s often referred to as a monogram

Using a lettermark is a great option for companies with long names, or names that are hard to pronounce. The only visual difference between a wordmark and a lettermark is the width, as a lettermark usually consists of fewer letters, normally around 2-4.

Examples of lettermarks: HBO, ESPN, IBM

Letterform logo

The final type of text-based logo is the letterform, which is simply an even more specific subcategory of the wordmark, than the lettermark is.
This type of logo consists of a single letter, and is often times more stylized than wordmarks and lettermarks, as using a single letter requires the font to be more unique.

Not only is a letterform logo a subcategory of wordmarks and lettermarks, but it is also a subcategory of brand marks. Much like abstract logos, a letterform logo can be considered to be more of a specific style of a brand mark, than it’s own type of logo. Because of this, you will rarely see this type of logo referred to as a letterform, but instead either a lettermark or a brand mark.

Examples of letterform logos: McDonalds, Adobe, WordPress

Emblem logo

An emblem logo consists of a company name and a graphical element confined within a shape, think crest, seal or badge. It’s more detailed than the other types of logos, making it less versatile, so you need to make sure how the logo will be used so this does not end up being an issue.

An emblem logo often has a traditional feeling to it and will make your company look well-established, and as if it has been around for centuries. This type of logo can be found in schools, government agencies, very traditional companies, beverage brands and more.

Examples of emblem logos: Starbucks, Harley-Davidson, NFL

Dynamic Logo / Flexible Logo

Dynamic logos are rare and seldom designed as a dynamic logo originally. Usually, a dynamic logo started off as another type of logo, and at some point, when the company or brand grew and became well recognized, the logo was transformed into a dynamic logo. It’s a very adaptable logo, that can be changed to fit into any context, either by changing the color, font or graphical elements. Google, as shown below, might be the logo that has the most variations made to it, but other examples of dynamic logos would be MTV, Nickelodeon, and AOL.

Examples of a dynamic logo by Google

Responsive logo

Responsive logos are designed to work in multiple environments, and is basically several versions of the same logo, not like a dynamic logo, but simplified versions of itself. The base logo might be very detailed, display the company name, as well as their slogan. The level of complexity and detail doesn’t work well if scaled down beyond a certain point, so multiple version is made, to fit different sizes. Whenever the base logo no longer works, a simplified version of it replaces it. The number of versions and level of simplification varies. At first, the slogan might be removed, then the company name shortened, and lastly, the company name is removed entirely, leaving only the symbol.

This type of logo works very well for companies with a big presence and needs to be visible in large scale, perhaps on outdoor signs and banners, as well as online, where a tiny icon on social media platforms is the only space available.

Examples of a responsive logo by Walt Disney

Combination mark

I have already mentioned the combination mark several times throughout this article, and alongside wordmark logos, this is probably the most used type of logo. The majority of combination marks consists of a brand mark and a wordmark, although the wordmark part will usually be simpler than that of a standalone wordmark, and is often made up by an already existing font, rather than a custom created one.
A combination mark is not simply a brand mark and wordmark combined, it can be any combination of types, and as was mentioned in the section about brand marks, a combination mark is usually created for a company, and later turned into a brand mark.

Examples of combination marks: Burger King, Lacoste, Taco Bell

Like I already stated earlier, you don’t need to sit down and memorize the names of each type of logo. Most of them are quite self-explanatory, and you can even group them together into bigger categories, as many people do, to make them easier to remember. You can always come back to this article to refresh your memory on these if needed.