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What are logo variations and how do I use them in my brand?

May 25, 2021 | Design

What are logo variations? We’re walking through the five different types of logos to use in your visual marketing so that you can look professional, consistent and cohesive wherever your brand is experienced.


You’ve just wrapped up with a brand designer (or purchased a pre-made brand design) and you receive a file of your brand artwork. Inside you find not only your main logo but quite a few other options as well. It can be a little overwhelming, not to mention confusing – why so many and what on earth do you do with them all?

The short answer?

Because every business has different needs and applications for their logo. Rather than sacrifice the quality and legibility of their primary logo, business owners can pull up the correct logo variation and make sure they look professional in all circumstances.

Continue reading on for the long answer – not only are we diving in to what a logo variation is but also how to actually use the variations in your visual marketing.

And in case you’d rather watch instead of read, check out the video below!


So what is a logo variation?

It’s a modified version of your primary logo that gives it the ability to be utilized in a variety of different applications.


Why are logo variations important?

As your business grows, your logo will be used in more than one place. Sure, when you’re just getting started all you need is something up on your website and maybe a business card. But fast forward a few months or years and you start branching out. Now you’re showing up on social media, and want your logo on products and printed marketing collateral and presentations. While your primary logo will probably get you by, adding in logo variations allows you to fill in the blanks where your primary may not be the best fit.

In a nut shell, logo variations allow you to put your best visual foot forward, look professional and maintain brand consistency.

Now, let’s dive into the different types and use-cases.


The primary logo

The primary logo is your main logo – the main identifier of your brand.

How to use it: When in doubt, use the primary logo. Because it’s the main visual for your brand, it should always be the first choice.

Where to use it: Website navigation menu, printed brand collateral

Quick tip: Make sure you also receive a black and white version of this logo to use in different applications, i.e. when you’re overlaying the logo onto an image or graphic. 

Logo variation uses: primary logo


The secondary or alternate logo variation

The secondary or alternate logo is arranged in a different composition than the primary version.

How to use it: The best uses are those that need less space while still being legible

Where to use it: Presentations, website navigation menu (depending on layout), printed material

Logo variation uses: alternate logo

Logo variation uses: alternate logo


The submark and brandmark logo variation

This is the most compact version of the logo. If it’s a submark, it has your business name and/or tagline and is circular in composition. If it’s a brandmark or logomark, there aren’t any words – just a graphic element or monogram (your business initials).

How to use it: When you need a brand identifier but the scale is small, so words aren’t legible

Where to use it: Watermark over images, website favicon, social media profile picture

Logo variation uses: submark logo

Logo variation uses: brandmark logo


How many logo variations do you need?

It’s hard enough to decide on a primary logo. And now you’re learning that it’s important to have variations – what. the. hell. The benefit of working with a professional is that you’ll get these options right from the start. However, if you’re DIY’ing your brand, it’s okay to pick one variation and work up from there.

Start simple and ask yourself: Where is the one place you show up on a consistent basis?

If you’re a digital business owner, it’s probably social media.

Great – now make sure your logo is optimized for social. More often than not, this means adding a submark, brandmark or wordmark to your logo suite.

Then, as your business changes and grows, you’ll start to realize what is needed; what logo is working, what’s not and where you can make some changes.

Remember – your brand will evolve and grow along with your business. By having a variety of logo variations in your arsenal, you’re setting yourself up for success by giving your brand a professional look across different applications.

Not wanting to go the DIY route? Let’s get your brand set up for success – learn more here.

Happy branding!

All my best,


Additional Visual Brand Resources

Further ensure brand consistency with a brand style guide – click here for a free template and tutorial on how to create one for your brand.

Want even more clarity on how to use your logo variations in your brand? Read this post on when to use each logo variation in your brand visuals.


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