Here’s Why You Should Be Thinking About Responsive Logo Design

Not all logos are created equally — here’s why.

A logo is the heart of a brand. But in today’s cross-channel landscape, a great logo isn’t enough. Now, that logo must also be dynamic — it must work across print, mobile, digital, and social platforms, and be clear and compelling at every size.

With programs like Adobe InDesign CC and Adobe Illustrator CC, along with OpenType glyphs or variable fonts for screen optimization, designers can create optimized and responsive logos. These designs function beautifully no matter how, where, and when they’re used. It’s all a matter of understanding what properties are affected across various platforms, and using the right tools.

Why are responsive logos so important?

Logos do significant heavy lifting for businesses. Customers form a first impression of a brand’s “personality” within seconds of seeing a logo. These designs define the brand’s identity, invite people to engage, set the brand apart from competitors, and inspire customer loyalty.

And these days, logos are working even harder. They must function well visually, whether they’re on large signs, small app icons, or anything in between. The proliferation of mobile usage, social channels, and an always-on digital culture means that a logo must cast its unique spell every time it appears on any device or on a screen of any size.

Logo courtesy of Frida Medrano.

The digital version of a logo should work in a variety of spaces, such as the horizontal bar at the top of a web-page, in vertical spaces along the sides of pages, and in square and circular spots on social media.

“Right now, more than ever, we have variable environments. This means that we not only have different sizes in screens — tablet, mobile, desktop — but also in print. You design in every scale, from a business card to huge billboards and posters,” says Frida Medrano, a graphic designer specializing in typography.

“Having a responsive logo helps you to adapt your brand to different spaces and situations in the future. It helps your design grow with the brand,” Frida says.

There are no set rules for logo design, though there are plenty of best practices to guide designers in creating a compelling, versatile, and responsive logo.

1. Create a visual strategy.

It’s vital to first create a visual strategy for the brand. Understand the brand you’re working with and its competition. Ask yourself:

A great logo will be both timeless and unique. It needs to feel fresh and modern today, but also stay appealing over time. It should be complex enough to communicate real ideas but simple enough to have full utility no matter how you want to use it.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud Team recommends testing the utility of the logo by picturing whether it would reproduce well stitched onto a baseball cap. If it’s simple enough to be striking on a ball cap, it’s probably good for just about any application.

Logo courtesy of Frida Medrano.

2. Consider visual elements.

Hitting this complex but simple mark depends in part on visual elements like contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. Pay close attention to the contrast between thick and thin strokes within the icon or wordmark. It will likely be necessary to make some variations of the logo with the extent of the contrast changing with the size.

“I think the perfect logo must have both a smart concept and functionality,” Frida says. “This means that the form and aesthetic should work for the digital and print design.”

Logo courtesy of Frida Medrano.

3. Understand type design.

Designers with access to Adobe Creative Cloud have everything they need to design powerful, responsive logos. You can use InDesign to make logos that are centered on shapes and typography. In Illustrator, vector shapes can create a logo that is sure to look good on-screen and in print, since vector art scales to any size without losing quality.

Understanding type design is key to making sure a logo is sufficiently versatile and durable. If your logo design uses type, it’s important to consider how this type will function across platforms and sizes. Logo designers often use OpenType glyphs for screen optimization. Frida recommends using variable fonts, based on a new font format now available in Illustrator. Many of these fonts have options for widths and optical sizes to help designers better control the size and space in a logotype. Variable fonts customized in Illustrator can be imported into InDesign.

Once you’ve got a logo design ready, it’s essential to test-drive it in various circumstances before bringing it to prime time. Employ it across platforms. Put it in spaces of various sizes and shapes. Look at it on screens of all sizes. Print it out in small and large formats. If there are several design options you’re considering, do A/B testing to get more information about which one works best.

Logo courtesy of Frida Medrano.

The goal is to end up with a design that can stand the test of time — not only in visual style but also in its ability to adapt to new technologies and usage patterns.

“As designers, we must make our brands ready for the future, in case the brand grows,” says Frida.

Ready to tackle the challenge of responsive logo design? Get started with Adobe Creative Cloud.