How the digital world changed what defines a great logo

David Lauchenauer
David·April 8, 2021
Find names with modern logos

Logos have one job: to attract the attention of their audience and gain their trust through repetition. How to execute that job changed over time and one of the main factors is the digital environment, particularly mobile devices.

Before the dawn of the digital era, Logos were seen in totally different contexts. Billboards, packaging, newspapers, and so on allowed logos to take on a more complex slant. There were less clear boundaries or predefined proportions that the logo had to be capable to fit.

Digital logos - what has changed?

When earlier media allowed logos a greater measure of freedom and creativity, the digital age has clearly restricted that. How can I be so sure of that? It's pretty simple really. Everywhere you look logos have to work as squared small icons now.


Do you host a Website? You need your logo as a favicon (the icon in the tab bar, next to the page title) restricting you to 16 x 16 or 32 x 32 pixels. That's certainly less freedom than a 10 x 2 m billboard. Do you have a mobile or desktop app? Your logo has to work as an app icon, limiting you once again. Google has its own guidelines to help you build a meaningful brand in a digital environment.


And you almost have no choice but to follow along with those standards. Users want to spot your Logo immediately when scanning their open tabs. Having an app icon that stands out will keep users from getting distracted by their Instagram app when they are trying to find yours. Getting attention while it lasts is critical in the digital age.

"Thanks to mobile, the era of the complicated logo is dead."

That's what LinkedIn’s Digital Marketing Leader Jennifer Buntin had to say in her article on the subject. And it's clear that this trend will not slow down. Google also gets increasingly strict with their search algorithm, ranking pages higher that perform better on mobile. That includes having a Logo that can scale down with your responsive webpage.

What your logo needs to succeed.

When you are crafting your logo grab our checklist to ensure your logo will work in the digital world.

  • Does it fit as an Icon? Next to your brand name, you should have an icon for various needs. Test it as a favicon - size your icon down to 16 x 16. Is it still recognizable? Also, check your App Icon - does your app icon work on every background colour? Take a look at how the best do it, they all have their icon on circle coloured in their corporate design colours. That way they ensure to be noticed whatever the colour of the background is.
How famous logos ensure to be recognizable on any background.
How famous logos ensure to be recognizable on any background.
  • Does it work for your audience? Any branding activity should consider the audience. There are various ways of building an audience. The analysis can be quite complex which is, without doubt, helpful to many decisions. Linkedin wrote a good article on the topic. If you don't have the time for that, you at least should have a rough persona in your head. Take a look at your logo from their point of view. Do you feel like it could work for them?
  • Do your colours have enough contrast for every viewer? Contrast is important to stand out and be noticed, but besides that, there is also a bigger amount of people with visual impairment than most of us are aware of. To make sure you have the right contrast, take a look at Web-Aims contrast checker. Put in your colour codes - is the contrast ratio below 5:1? Start over. Considering that the brightness of screens is limited and users often use their smartphone in bright daylight I'd even go as far and suggest you don't work with a contrast ratio below 8:1.
  • Suitable for other potential use-cases? Where will your Logo be visible? What about printed versions, or even 3D versions, on real estate? If your logo needs to be printable you also need to have a CMYK version of your logo. And if you plan to have 3D Versions of your Logo it's helpful to have the RAL tones for Europe or the Pantone colour codes for international use. Since most of the companies in this industry work with those colour palettes.
  • Get Feedback on your Design. Does your Logo / Icon resemble something you didn't recognize? Do others also think that your logo could work? What is the Feedback you've gathered? Is there reasonable doubt? You shouldn't hurry your Logo process. It is something that will be seen in so many different places. A good logo can be expensive, but a bad logo is always expensive - just not upfront.

Good luck on your branding process. 🥳