Branding Series

Logo Size and Orientation

Ensuring Maximum Marketing Potential

Ian Jahns
March 25, 2020

Why your logo's overall size is crucial for expanding your brand and making sure it is designed with future success in mind.

What do we mean by size?

To be clear, we are not talking about the physical size of your logo in terms of inches and feet, but the proportions of it. As a whole, what type of space does your primary logo take up? Is it square or rectangular? Horizontal or maybe vertical?

It may not seem like a huge deal, but the proportions and orientation of your logo can have a dramatic effect on how well it can be marketed. We will get into the details of that a bit later, but first let us better define what we mean by proportions and orientation.

Logo Orientation

Rule #1: Don't Design a Square Logo

Yes, this includes completely circular logos, and yes this will definitely ruffle a few feathers, but we have found that these designs have certain limitations when it comes to visibility. We will show you examples a bit later. Also, this is just what we have personally experienced and you are more than welcome to prove us wrong.

Rule #2: Don't Design a Vertical Logo

Since we're not designing a square logo, it has to be rectangular. Additionally that rectangle needs to be horizontal and not vertical. Landscape only, no portrait.

Now that our logo is a horizontal rectangle, how wide should it be? How tall can it be?
This is where we need to discuss the proportions of your design.

Aspect Ratio

Most commonly used when describing monitors and screens, however we will use this method to describe and show you different proportions when it comes to your logo design. This is useful for a couple of reasons:

  1. Your logo needs to be in a vector format. Meaning it can be scaled to any size (large or small) without losing image quality.
    This is essential.
  2. Aspect ratio is the comparison of width to height, so the physical size (feet and inches) is irrelevant.

A very common aspect ratio is 16:9. This is read, "sixteen by nine" and describes the overall width first and then the overall height second. So when talking about a screen that has a 16:9 aspect ratio, it is 16 units wide by 9 units tall. Notice we said units and not feet or pixels. This is because these numbers represent a ratio of width versus height. Now below are some common aspect ratios ranging from 5:4 (very close to square) to 2.35:1 (which is over 2x wider than it is tall). The thin dotted lines in the diagram represent a square so you can see how wide some of these ratios get.

Now that we have that covered, let's talk about how these aspect ratios relate to your logo design.

Your Logo

We have found that logos between 3:2 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios have optimal marketing potential. These rectangular designs are incredibly versatile in various marketing environments. We live in a very rectangular world with windows, street signs, billboards, computer and cellphone screens, televisions, paper, magazines, and even the human field of vision in itself is wider than it is tall. So designing something as essential as your logo to these mediums allows higher visibility and stronger marketing potential. Let's put this theory to the test:

If you simply google image search "multi tenant sign", or look below, and just glance over the results, what do you see? An overwhelming amount of horizontally orientated rectangles. Some wider than others, but very few signage opportunities that are square. The other detail you may notice is that some brands stand out significantly more than others on the same sign. This is because these businesses have logos that fit the allowed sign space to the fullest.

Image results for "multi tenant sign"

I personally noticed this while working as a designer for a signage company here in Southern California and noticed how a vast majority of signage opportunities were the same rectangular shape. I especially noticed this when a new tenant had a particularly square or ornate logo and had to dramatically reduce the size of their square logo so it could fit within the signage space. They were understandably unhappy, but unfortunately powerless unless they change their logo.

Below is an example showing that exact scenario, along with showcasing the versatility of a rectangular logo design.

The first image is showing a fake company "PYRAMID" and two different designs for their brand. The design on the left is a rectangular aspect ratio of 1.85:1 while the design on the right is square (1:1). Both designs are shown with the copy at the exact same size. They are also the exact same width, but different heights.

Both logo designs have the exact same copy size.

This next visual is utilizing the rectangular design in various boxes. The logo is scaled to fit within each box with a small border. The border is consistent throughout.

Logo scaled to fit within each box with consistent borders.

The final image is the square logo design in the same boxes, along with the exact same border.

Square logo scaled to fit within each box with consistent borders.

Here we see that the square logo is fixed by the height and cannot get any bigger as the boxes become more and more elongated. Square logos are very much confined to only square applications and remember, we live in a very rectangular world. There is of course the opposite argument for a rectangular design being minimized by square applications; the wider the design, the smaller it will become when placed in square parameters. This is exactly why we suggest limiting your logo design to aspect rations between 3:2 and 1.85:1, because there is a problem with being too long.

Thank you for taking the time to read up on this in-depth look at logo sizing and orientation. We hope this was informative and useful for both designers as well as business owners. If you like this type of information, check out the other blogs we have in our Branding Series.