Oftentimes, we designers must walk a fine line between giving our clients what they want and giving them what they need for their target market. For example, can you guess the single, most commonly used phrase that makes most designers cringe when they hear it from clients?
If you answered, “Jazz it up,” you’re wrong (that’s the second most irritating phrase). The correct answer is: “Make the logo bigger!” Designers often joke about having to make logos bigger on designs (see Figure 1a), whether on a website, print advertisement or business card. But we should really try to understand why this is such a frequent request from clients. What it comes down to is simply an innate desire to make sure their brand is prominent and noticeable.
Clients want to get as much traction as possible with their marketing dollars, especially if they’ve spent much time, effort and budget on creating a professionally-designed logo. But instead of gawking at the idea of a larger than necessary logo, designers should spend more time understanding a client’s reasoning for wanting a bigger logo.
We should be asking questions like: Will making this logo bigger have a greater impact and influence on your audience, or will it distract too much from the message? Would having more white space around the logo make it more prominent, instead of enlarging it? Should the logo be considered equally as important as the message?
There are no scientific facts (that I can find, anyway) about how big or small your logo should be in a design. But a good benchmark is seeing how the major brands handle it. In almost every case — from print ads to websites — you’ll more than likely notice that the logo is usually less than 10% of the overall design. In the ads below, their logos are less than 5% of the overall designs.
Is this because they’re so iconic that they can get away with it? No. They’ve figured out that the message of the ad holds more weight than their logo. What an over-sized logo can actually reveal about a company is a lack of brand confidence (see Figure 1b).
In other words: the bigger your logo, the lower your brand confidence. In most cases, a logo should be large enough to be readable but not overshadow the content. Your logo is not the message. Your message is the message.