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Logo Usage Best Practices

By TJ Barranger

What is a logo? Well, a logo is a simple, easily reproduced emblem, symbol, or type treatment that identifies your business, and distinguishes your product or service from others in the marketplace. A logo can be text (logotype), an abstract symbol, or a simple picture/icon.

Though you can use just about any image or symbol as your logo (assuming it isn't already in use by a competitor), in my opinion—and in practice—a logo is NOT:

Once your logo is designed, you can choose to render it in a number of ways. Many major brands are using dressed or adorned versions of their logos for television and web applications, because these renderings are not printed, and thus there is no cost to reproduce them. However, for printed, painted, and monogrammed applications, most logos are displayed in their simplest geometric form. Below are some common applications, using a few of my own designs as examples.

Full Ornamentation

Multi-color, gradient fills, highlights, drop shadows, etc.

The "dressed up" version of your logo. Your fanciest artwork; also the most expensive to reproduce in spot color. Use on the web and in low volume print/marketing materials on gloss stock (brochures, presentation covers, rack cards, magazine advertising). Requires lossless format that supports transparency, like PNG or PDF 1.4 and higher (GIF or PNG for the web).

Solid Color, Unadorned

Single or Two-color, plus white/black; no shadows or gradient fills

Most common; this is your EVERYDAY logo, without any ornamentation. Use for high-volume process or spot printing on matte paper, and for multi-color silkscreen/stencil applications. Use for business cards, letterhead, and invoices, color signage, and for premium, low-volume promotional items, like t-shirts, mugs, etc. Use also for thumbnails and other low-res web graphics. Vector (SVG/EPS) format (GIF/PNG for web).

Solid Single Color or Black

Use for low-cost, high-volume reproduction or spot color printing. Best for internal documents, such as business forms, applications, fax cover sheets. Use also as source file for watermarks and for etched, molded, or monogrammed promotional items, such as nameplates, keychains, glassware, rubber stamps, patches, etc. Vector (SVG/EPS) format.

TJ Barranger is a branding and publicity consultant in the Baltimore, Maryland area with a background in design, business communications, and online content management. He specializes in assisting small business and non-profit clients. Agree/disagree with this article? Share your comments via e-mail: