It seems that the less people really know about marketing the more they think they know. While this is true of many other subjects too, it is particularly true of marketing. Despite lacking knowledge, experience, and evidence, too many truly believe that their intuition is as good as anyone else's. The more knowledge marketers acquire, the more they learn that much of effective marketing is counterintuitive. This is particularly true of an issue that has arisen quite a lot lately with clients and students -- logo size. The uninitiated believe that when it comes to logo size and placement, bigger is better. Effective marketers, graphic designers, and psychologists know this is not true.
What's too big?
When it comes to determining the right size of a logo, it is typically inappropriate to talk about actual measurements. What is appropriate is the size of the logo relative to the other elements of the communication. A properly sized logo should not be bigger than the headline or main message that conveys the benefits of the product or subject being promoted. In fact, if you look at the logos of most professional, classy, and successful companies, you will find that the logos are not big, gaudy, or outsized. They are understated. They prefer to use the space to help you understand why you should buy their products.
What's wrong with too big?
A logo that is too big comes with a lot of negative baggage including the following:
- Inside-out thinking. Successful companies put the customer first and convey that to the customer. Making the logo bigger than the customer benefit tells your customer that you are more important than they are.
- Visual equivalent of shouting. Humans learn quite early that those with greater knowledge and confidence don't have to shout. People are drawn to them. They do not act as if they are selling "snake oil" or ice to Eskimos.
- Insecure. Marketing psychologists know that shouting is often a manifestation of insecurity. If your product as good, there is no need to use gimmicks or shouting to sell it.
- Distracting. Most buyers are interested in what your company or products can do for them. They are more attracted to information that conveys the benefits to them. Big logos distract them from the main message.
- Waste space. Logos that are too big take space away from the benefits that are more important to the buyers. They also fill up white space necessary to give greater importance to the message.
Proper logo placement
Some companies compound the mistake of making their logo too big by putting it in the wrong places. In print ads, brochures, or other print communications, the proper location of logos is in the "signature" of the communication along with the name and slogan. In Western cultures where people read left to right, top to bottom, the proper location is the bottom middle or bottom right of the communication. Even so, some companies put logos at the top of these communications, or even worse, in the headline. Putting a logo in a headline is an inside out, product-driven "speed bump" that interferes with the reader's ability to learn and remember the main message conveyed in the headline.
On Web sites, letterhead, and business cards, the best location for logos (and accompanying names and slogans) is the upper left corner. These are corporate identity vehicles that may go longer than one page in the case of letters and one screen in the case of Web pages. Hence it is necessary to put the same discreetly-sized logo in the upper left corner where it is less likely to interfere with other parts of the communication.
Pay attention to logo implementations
To learn the importance of understating logos, it is a good idea to pay attention to the use of logos by companies of different sizes, types, and levels of success. You will find exceptions, but you will also learn that companies with the better reputations (IBM, Xerox, Mont Blanc, Ritz Carlton, Tesla) have understated logos.