Bigger Is Not Always Better – How Logo Inflation can be Deflating

“Make our logo bigger”

This is frequent client comment after seeing  a Web design concept. It is so common that there are several YouTube spoofs that make light of the matter.  “Easy enough change,” you say? Well, this seemingly innocuous request, typically tendered to increase visual impact, can sometimes have the opposite effect.  A seemingly small directive to pump up the size of your logo may actually damage your Web site’s new design.

What’s the big deal?

You are proud of your business and you want to promote it. Your logo is a visual representation of your business. You want to make sure all of your visitors know who you are so you can start to build brand recognition and increase your sales. Designers understand this.

Your logo, however, is not your entire brand.

A brand, according to some definitions, consists of the sum of all points of contact with the company. That means the entire site design should be an extension of your brand. All site elements (copy, headings, images, etc.) should work together to achieve your goal.  While the logo might be the cornerstone of the brand, it shouldn’t be asked to bear the entire weight of a company’s identify.

So if after viewing your new site design you want your logo to be bigger, it may be a sign that the overall design doesn’t fit with your brand or that the brand message is not clear enough.

Keeping your audience’s attention

The site’s design needs to engage your audience very quickly.  You have less than 2 seconds to grab your users’ attention and give users the information they’re looking for. If they don’t find it, they will look elsewhere and you’ve lost a possible relationship.

In order to achieve your site’s goals, designers work to emphasize the most important page elements. One of the tools to do this is the design principle of contrast.  Contrast can be achieved by using a difference in size or color between different design elements. Making the logo bigger may de-emphasize the most important sections, like the call to action, which will result in less conversions, and a less effective design.

Take this example from the popular photo sharing site flickr


Your eye goes directly to the photo in the center. This entire page clearly focuses on that main piece of content.

Now this is the same page with the logo enlarged:


The logo and the image are now competing for that attention. It’s much more distracting and could leave the user a little less satisfied with their experience on the site.

Your site’s content should be the focal point of the page, not your logo. If your visitors are interested in your product or service, they will find the company behind it.

Turning negative into a positive.

Negative space is another important principle that designers use to drive attention. Negative space or white space is the space around an object. Leaving white space around the logo and other elements generally makes a page easier to scan and locate the information your users are looking for.  Using a smaller logo in addition to negative space may also create a sense of hierarchy, subconsciously telling your visitors which sections to look at first. Making your logo bigger can cut into this white space which weakens that delicately crafted hierarchy.

Smaller logos can be just as effective as larger ones. Look no further than big brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, or GE.  All use what some would consider small logos instead of “in your face” branding; they focus on the most important things they have to offer, their products. The entire pages communicate the brands’ respective attributes, not just the logo.

So, the next time you think your logo looks too small, instead consider whether the message of your content is too small. Maybe your call to action just needs a bit more emphasis or you need to tone down your background colors. Spending more time focusing on your content will improve your site’s ability to get customers interested in what you have to offer.

As with all design, none of these assertions are stated as hard and fast rules. Always remember your target audience.  It may be completely appropriate to enlarge a logo in certain situations.

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