The Ultimate Guide To Responsive Logo Design In The Digital Age

responsive, animated Disney logo design

In the times of modern technology that has propelled forward with shrinking screen sizes and brands redesigning their logos in a radical direction that fits into the new digital formats, responsiveness is no longer just a trend but a practical necessity. Even though many businesses have adapted the mobile-first approach to responsive web design, yet they don’t give the same treatment to their logos. Often logos get compromised within responsive website design. Many have not been designed that follow responsive frameworks or give consideration to variable sizes. Moreover, they are simply resized to fit whatever available space has been provided for them or not.

Still there are brands that got it right within the responsive space. These are brands that have been designed carefully and with utmost consideration as to how it will display in a technologically evolving world. The very best logo designs are simple and flexible, with diverse formats and layout options. This is because when a site is optimized for a device, the brand is also optimized to the space set aside for it.

In this article we will discuss why simple, flexible and adaptable logo design is not just important but also essential. Industry giants and born-in-the-cloud companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify are simplifying and thus following the modus operandi of minimalism as responsive web design becomes a mainstay in the growing share of the global mobile device market. We can learn from their solutions when brands think about our own logo or a logo redesign and ensure how to optimize our logos for all screen sizes.

Table of Contents

What a responsive logo design actually is?

Responsive logos are an element of “responsive web design.” Fundamentally, responsive logo design is having a logo layout (we call them lock-ups) that will fit wherever it is needed while still maintaining the cohesiveness of your brand identity.

How can you design a scalable responsive logo without weakening the very personality of your brand:

Keep it Simple, Stupid

When it comes to logos, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Logos should be eye-catching and recognizable – but not for their details or superfluous decoration. People don’t have to break down and analyze a logo that is complex or cluttered. The human brain remembers simple forms far more easily than the complicated ones. Because people cannot retain much info when they are bombarded with multiple abstract forms. That is why opting for a simple, clean and memorable logo design is where your logo brainstorming process should be headed.

The demand for simplicity in logo design is not a new concept and was known long before “responsive design” started pushing for greatest simplification. Just look at Apple’s first attempt at creating a logo way back in 1976 which was designed by an engineer Ron Wayne. As creative as it was, that logo was far too complex to survive in a digital age.

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Apple Computer logos

Unsurprisingly, this complicated logo was replaced just a year later when Steve Jobs commissioned Rob Janoff, a professional graphic designer to design a logo that reflected singularity, simplicity and modernity. The rainbow colors may have changed but the basic shape has remained unchanged for over 30 years and has become one of the most famous icons in the world. By switching to a simpler design, Apple was able to create a logo that was easier for their customers to remember, and far more adaptable which practically allowed it to work well at any size.

Design for Modernity

Another best practice when it comes to responsive logo design is to follow a modernist outlook.

A good responsive logo design is simple, clean and sleek. In the age of dynamic branding, have a logo that conveys the ideals of clarity, has modern brand identity, scales elegantly and has maximum impact in an increasingly digital world.

This approach plays with simple shapes, fonts and less color. Of course, your logo should be able to express the message values and the vision that your brand upholds – but don’t fall in the trap of literally showing every detail of what your business does.

mastercaed logo design for modernity
Mastercard logo changes

Strive for Minimalism

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Louis Vuitton's minimal logo

According to the minimalist design theory, less is more and this same philosophy can be applied when designing logos. A great minimalistic logo needs no explanation. It stands above your competition with its chic, modern and clean design. A minimal logo strives for a sleek aesthetic that shares a simple color scheme, intelligently uses negative space, has bold geometric shapes and daring typography.

Say goodbye to the complicated elements like multiple colors, shapes and fonts – minimal logos stay clear of any frills or extras. Instead, they comprise of a single fundamental design concept that can scale across a range of platforms without affecting your brand identity.

Flat logo designs are the best examples of a minimalist design. This kind of logo design is achieved by eliminating all the additions – like gradients, texture and 3D shapes or effects. In fact, most famous brands like Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton, etc are using minimalism to achieve a succinct position to brand identity. Notice how these brands have such a captivating design approach, which shows minimalism makes logo design way more memorable and timeless.

Prepare Your Logo for Adaptability

Along with being simple and significant, a responsive logo also needs to be adaptable for different applications.

All adept logo designers know the wisdom of creating versatile designs that withstand the test of time. When we talk about creating responsive logos, our focus is on quality and legibility and adjustments of the design. For example, take a look at Nike in designer Joe Harrison’s project “responsive logos” that shows how a logo can be simplified to bare essentials to confirm to various screen sizes without losing its brand identity.

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Nike logo adaptability

The Nike swoosh is easily one of the most recognized brand logos in the world. It’s font, color, shape form the main Nike logo, when shrunk down, it looks like this:

We can still understand that the last image relates to Nike, but this simplest logo without the main logo elements fits on smaller screens more easily.

Declutter

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when designing a responsive logo is that they want to keep too much or all the elements of their original brand mark for the fear of missing out on brand awareness and recognition. However, your brand identity is hardly ever affected when small adjustments are made to your logo. You can do this by applying the essence of “effective decluttering”. The key to success is finding out which elements make your mark recognisable and using them in distinct ways. For example, you might:

Remove images (like with the Disney castle)

disney logo evolution
Disney adapts responsive logo design

Eliminate taglines and phrases

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Kodak logo eliminates tagline to achieve a responsive logo design

Drop the wordmark

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HubSpot retains a simple icon from its wordmark for a responsive logo design

Remove unnecessary colors

lacoste logo
Lacoste removes colors to achieve a responsive logo design

Realign or center your logo design 

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Domino's balances incremental reduction for aresponsive logo design

How can your brand optimize for responsive logo design?

There are many ways that brands big and small can invest in a successful responsive logo design. Here are some of the best options available that will help your brand design a responsive logo in 5 easy steps:

1. Create at least 4 different logo variants

When we talk about deconstructing a responsive logo, we find three or four different versions of the same logo design that vary in size and the level of detail. So keep this point in consideration as you start experimenting with the format.

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Responsive logos of Coca Cola, Chanel, Heineken and Levi's by Joe Harrison

If you already are aware about how you plan to use your logos, you can then design your four versions around your intended locations. If you are not aware, then you can simply copy the format used by the famous brands on the right.

Your first logo variation should be your main logo which contains all the information that your brand wants to communicate, plus any added extras if you have the space for it.

2. Add or reduce logo elements as you scale up or down

Can you see the difference in the four logo versions given above? If you are familiar with responsive web design, then you may know that designers add details as the screen size scales up, and they subtract details as the screen size scales down.

That’s why it’s important to prioritize what elements of your logo you want to keep and delete in advance. For example, less priority elements like a company slogan or the date of establishment can be added when you have ample amount of space, but they should be first to get rid of as you create a responsive logo. High-priority elements like the company name can stay in as much as it is required, nonetheless it’s hard to justify their prerequisite to the smallest of devices.

premier league logo
Different variations of Premier league logo by DesignStudio

But the problem does not get solved with just getting rid of the elements, it means you need to further refine the logo by reducing it to the right level of detail. In the “Premier League” logo seen above, the main logo is reduced to a smaller version by removing the typography and further streamlining it to an icon format. This makes it fit for a digital-first brand.

Similarly, you can also remove excessive colors to have better clarity in your logo. Colors can be hard to see at smaller sizes, and if your logo has a multicolor palette it can lead to confusion. When it comes to designing responsive logos at small sizes, remember simple is smart.

Get creative and find new ways to declutter your smaller logos. For example, instead of doing away with your company name altogether, you can substitute it with initials.

3. Consistency is the key

heinz logo responcivness
Heinz logo maintains consistency with responsive logo design

One of the biggest myths about responsive logos is that each version must be a new logo altogether. But the reality is (as we mentioned earlier) responsive logos are different versions of the same original logo.

Consistency throughout every version of your responsive logo is very crucial as it unifies your brand’s complete visual identity. Follow a consistent pattern with fonts and color scheme through each logo variation. All of these above components are naturally tied to your whole branding experience and not just limited to the logo.

This does not mean that you can’t change any of these elements at all. In other words, your goal should be that whatever alterations you may make to the logo it should be similar to the point where it evidently matches with the original.

4. Apply abstract symbols to smaller sizes

If your company has a detail-oriented logo or a decorative typography and yet you still want to retain the logo without reducing any element in the smaller version, then the best way to achieve it is by making the imagery abstract.

Jaguar has done this well whilst ensuring that it’s logo is clearly visible even on smaller screens. In view of the fact that the chrome effect in the original Jaguar logo is hard to scale down, the alternative logo version retains the necessary details required to make customers recognize that its a Jaguar logo.

jauar logos
Metallic Jaguar logo (left); Abstract Jaguar logo (right)

5. Vertical Stacking

Responsive logo design is not just resizing shape or element. By its very definition, a responsive logo is meant to be a scalable logo and has to adapt to any environment, both in digital and print domains.

In common practice, a logo is designed in horizontal and vertical versions because of their different application purposes.

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Logo Proportion in horizontal and vertical version

The horizontal version logo is primarily used on the website, letterhead, business card, advertising and sponsorship products.

The vertical version logo is used for square and vertical layout formats like social networks, instant messengers, advertising banners, t-shirts or signboards.

Now, let’s get back to the main question, that is, why your logo should have a vertical version? When logo designers want to fit more content into smaller square space then “vertical stacking” is the most apt solution. Instead of outspreading a logo across a horizontal space, the objective is to pull together all parameters into the square box in a balanced format. For example, check out the difference between the original “Walmart” logo and its responsive vertical logo version:

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Walmart logo — horizontal and vertical lockups
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The correct way to vertical stacking of Walmart logo (right)

This vertical stacked logo works confidently without taking away any element from the original logo.

Is your brand ready to make an impact with responsive logos?

As we continue to make technological advances in the digital world, it can be said with assurance that responsive logos are a must-have. Sure, having only a single logo does seem a much easier and convenient option, but as more marketing platforms emerge, the less authoritative that one logo will be. A responsive logo is created with design principles and rules that allow you to preserve visual consistency across various channels and resolutions.

With responsive logo design, companies not only improve the user experience customers have with their brand but they also make sure to provide an excellent and visually-engaging design journey that connects to their target audience. In the coming years, the flexibility and versatility of responsive logos will become all the more important for businesses of all types and sizes.

We hope this article helped you in understanding all the effective tactics about developing a responsive logo. If your logo isn’t responsive, contact Ellora Social.

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