It’s been a while now since Joe Harrison published this interesting personal project about responsive logos. Some design related blogs and websites echoed about it (link, link, link) and an interesting debate took place: should logos be flexible and have different versions to get adapted to the screen they are displayed on?
Despite what we might think, logos are not a “static element”. Many companies use alternative black and white versions for their logos, above all to ensure readability on every background they can be applied on. Other some complex logos which include gradients have a flat version for scenarios when ink cannot reach the possibilities of a screen. And even when good logos should be designed to work properly on every size, unfortunately not all of them do and often they need a different version for some uses, like for example favicon versions.
However, what Joe Harrison purposes is creating different versions for a logo which would be displayed depending on the screen’s device. This can make sense as space on small screens is precious, and some logos are just too big. Having it in all its glory requires choosing between two painful options: either reducing the available area to show the actual content or reducing the size of the logo, sometimes compromising its correct readability.
So, should companies start designing and implementing responsive logos in their websites?
Personalisation: It’s always worth to brand properly each page of our site, app or webapp. Some of the logo adaptation suggested by Harrison on his website are definitely perfect for small sizes and would fit nicely on mobile screens.
Usability: As mentioned before, reducing the space of elements like the logo releases the available area to show other pieces of content.
It takes time and money: Investing in good design can be expensive, because it requires talent but also time. Once each ‘logo alternative size’ has been designed it might seem like there’s no need to worry about this anymore, but that’s not true as developers need to implement each design. Every project is an array of small tasks, which might not take too much time individually but when added all together require lots of hours. So if we can skip something else to be checked by our developers, they will have more time to focus on other important goals.
Incorrect use: Logos are mistreated systematically. As we’ve seen, many branding guides provide different versions of a logo that should be used depending on the situation. However, often the guides are not followed, above all with big companies who can’t control how many of their stakeholders use their logos. Multiplying the available options would multiply their incorrect use.
There’s much we can learn from Joe Harrison’s project, but personally I would keep the idea of having a logo with as less variations as possible. Many companies seem to think the same, and when they face the challenges of the digital world in order to show their logo in the best possible way, they just take the decision to change the logo for something that will work both online and offline. That’s why more and more brands are changing their intricate designs for simpler shapes. Whether this is just a trend or it’s here to stay only time will tell.