What Are Logo Variations and Do You Need Them?

When it comes to your visual identity a single logo might be ok when you’re starting out but if you want to build brand recognition, you’ll need more than just that £20 logo you bought on Etsy or the one you whipped up yourself in Canva.

Over the course of building your business, you’ll have so many touch points with your clients & customers, that a one size fits all approach to logo design simply won’t give you the flexibility you need and doesn’t do your business justice.

One of the most common mistakes I see businesses making is using the same version of their logo on absolutely everything. Regardless of whether it fits in the space, is too small to read etc. Maybe you’ve spotted something similar yourself?

Now this is where logo variations come in. They give you options, so when your primary logo isn’t working for you, you have another, considered and on brand option to use instead.

So, let’s get into the different variations, so you can understand what they are and how you would use them in your business. As we go through the variations, I’ll be including an example of each, from a brand I designed.

Primary Logo

Your primary logo is the most complete version of your logo and will contain all the elements (if you have them).

Primary logo = company name + tagline + icon

This logo will be in full colour, which means it contains most of the colours, if not all, from your brand colour palette.

Do you need one?

Yes. Every business needs a primary logo.

Using your primary logo

This is the logo variation that you’ll use the most (but ideally, not everywhere!)

Examples of where you’d use it:

  • In your website header
  • As signage
  • On marketing materials such as business cards, roller banners etc
  • As your profile picture on social media (as long as it’s legible and fits in the space)

Secondary Logo

This is usually a simplified version of your logo, which is often a different shape. For example, if your primary logo is long and thin, your secondary logo would likely be stacked and sit better in a square/circle shape.

Secondary Logo = company name + icon

Do you need one?

Most businesses will find a secondary logo beneficial and useful to have. It provides options for you and can be especially useful if you plan to use your logo in lots of different places.

Using your secondary logo

When your primary logo doesn’t work, that’s when your secondary logo comes in. It might be that it’s a different shape so works better in the space you have or maybe you want to use a more simple version and this is it!

Examples of where you’d use it:

  • On marketing materials such as business cards, roller banners etc if your primary logo doesn’t work
  • Website/document footers
  • Stickers/labels
  • On social media graphics


Described by different designers as different things but basically the same thing – your logo without any of the other stuff – just your brand name.

Wordmark = company name

Do you need one?

That depends on whether your primary logo is already a wordmark. If it is – then no. If your primary logo contains icons/taglines/design details, then yes, a wordmark is helpful to have in your toolkit.

Using your wordmark

Wordmarks are great for situations where all you need is your company name and not all the other ‘gumpf’ that goes with your primary and secondary logo.

Some businesses only have a wordmark, for example Disney or Coca-Cola. If that’s the case, your wordmark becomes your primary logo.

Examples of where you’d use it:

  • Website footer
  • Document footer
  • Anywhere you want to use your company name without wanting it just typed out


I refer to the graphic image element of my logo designs as icons, different designers call them different things but that’s how I roll, at least for now anyway.

So in this instance we’re talking about any drawn details that go with your logo, so in the example we’re running with, the person is the icon. You can also have additional icons in your brand, which may not be featured in your logo.

Do you need one?

No – you don’t have to have an icon element to your brand, lots of brands don’t have them and get on just fine. However, if you do have an icon as part of your primary logo, you should have access to a variation of this icon at least, as a standalone graphic to use.

Using your icon

Icons make a fun addition to a brand and can work well in isolation to your primary/secondary logos. Icons can become instantly recognisable in their own right – everyone knows the Nike tick and the adidas three stripes, without having to see the words Nike and adidas next to them. That’s what an icon can do for your business.

Examples of where you’d use it:

  • Social media graphics
  • Packaging
  • As a pattern
  • On products
  • Across your website
  • Anywhere you like, basically

Using these elements together

When you have variations of your logo, you can use them individually or together. Using them together can be really powerful and create depth to your brand.

In short…

Every business needs a primary logo and an alternative. Whether that’s a secondary logo, a wordmark or an icon, is open for discussion but having at least one of those in addition will give your brand depth and flexibility. Enabling your business to look polished and professional at all times, wherever it shows up.

If you want to discuss your existing brand or a new one, just get in touch or book a call with me and we can have a chat about it.

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