Logo Variants and when to use them

Logo Variants and when to use them

We see logos almost everywhere that we look, they are used digitally, in print, and can even be seen in the foam at the top of a cup of coffee we drink in the morning.

They are the symbols used to help us instantly identify a brand or product, you know that logos come in many different shapes and sizes. But you might not necessarily know that each of these logos has many different variations.

In this article we are going to explain the different logo variants that can be found and when best to use them.

If you want to read more about why logos are so important, check out our article that explains the topic in detail.

Normal Logo

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A Standard design of our Painting Pixels logo

Every brand will have a normal design of their logo variants set, this will serve almost as their “Master Version” and is the version that all other logo variants are based off, Coca-Cola has its red scriptwriting and MTV has its large bold M with the smaller tv letters overlapping. These are just two examples of many different successful logos and like all good logos are self-contained, this means that they have no background or block colour behind them, all of the colour and design is confined to just the logo itself.

This is important as it allows these logos to be placed anywhere, on billboards, websites, magazines, but these standard versions of logos do have their limitations, if they have to be scaled down to a very small size for example they may not be legible or if they are being placed on top of clashing colours, if we take Coca-Cola for example and put it on a red page of a magazine the logo would be lost on the page! This leads us on to our next variant.

We discuss what makes up a logo in detail on our article “How a logo is constructed“, check it out to learn more.

Negative Logo

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An unused negative variant of the Painting Pixels logo

Negative versions of logo variants are essentially the normal logo, with the colour scheme reversed. For example, the text on the normal logo may be white with a blue background, so the negative logo will have blue text with a white background, with other secondary colours remaining the same on both.

The negative logo is very useful for certain circumstances when it fits better on the material it is used on and works with the colour scheme better, such as a light or dark background, depending on the original colours of the normal logo, while still maintaining more than two colours if used on the normal logo design.  

Mono Logo

Mono logo variants are a version of your logo that is one solid colour usually white but can also be black with all other colours around it and is a great test of your logo’s strength. If we go back to our previous example and put the red around the Coca-Cola logo and make the logo itself white then this would be a lot more visible and work very well, these types of logos will also cover you if you need to apply your logo to one-colour printing.

The mono logo differs from the negative logo in the way that it may closely resemble the normal logo, but only use the single most used colour for the entire logo, with either a black and white background making out the other shapes. The mono logo is used for when a good quality reproduction cannot be guaranteed, such as small prints.

A black and white logo may be used in place of a mono logo, as it retains the same purposes, however, they can be used in addition to the mono logo as separate designs if desired by the brand. This may be used to be a bolder image than the normal logo, as it has higher contrast than normal colours. However, you could also have a black and white logo as your normal logo, in which case a mono logo is not needed.

3D Logo

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An unused 3D variant of our Painting Pixels logo

3D logo variants are often quite intricate or detailed usually involving gradients and drop shadows and various other things to make the logo look 3D, whilst this variant of a logo can be very appealing to look at it is limited to where it can or should be used.

The best place for this form of logo is digital as the 3D effect can sometimes be lost on print, modern monitors with high-resolution displays have allowed for these logos to be scaled down considerably in recent years but as a rule, try not to make a 3D logo too small as once again you might lose the 3D effect may be lost on the viewer.


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An icon of our Painting Pixels logo

Icons are logo variants that have been turned into symbols that are best used as app icons or maybe even profile pictures for various social media. The point of these icons is that they can be used in very small scale i.e as an app icon example of these can be seen all over the Apple App Store and Google’s Play Store these type of logos also come in hand if you don’t want to slap your full logo all over everything.


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A banner variant of our Painting Pixels logo

Banners are elongated logo variants that are a version of the standard logo that is usually positioned horizontally an example of this would be if you took the I Love New York logo and moved the NY letters up and next to the I and the Heart symbol, making this logo into a horizontal variant will work much better as a banner that the original logo.

Banners Logos are often seen digitally usually on social media pages like Facebook and Twitter and also sites like YouTube, but these Logos can also be used as letterheads and in various other forms of print.

Line Art

Another type of the logo variants is Line Art, while not used by some companies, line art logos are a stylistic way to showcase your logo in a simplistic manner. Usually consisting of only black/white or another solid colour, these logos are intentionally styled to appear more as an outline of the logo, with none of the colours being filled in. Some companies like Apple might use line art logos on some of their products if it compliments their design.

A line art logo is a completely optional piece of branding material for businesses and does not have to be included in the branding guidelines, although depending on the scale of some business’ branding guidelines, might be included as an optional logo for certain circumstances.

How do businesses keep their branding material and logo variants consistent?

There is one key way that businesses keep all of their branding material, including their logo variants, consistent and that is through the use of brand guidelines, these are the fundamental guidelines of how the branding material should appear and be used, as well as the colour palette it allows and the logo variants explained previously. If you want to explore what brand guidelines are in more detail check out our article about them here.

If you would like your own bespoke Logo Designed to your specifications and that professionally matches your brand identity, as well as other branding material to enhance your company, then be sure to get in touch with us so we can start something together!

And be sure to check out our YouTube Channel for more interesting and entertaining content.

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