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I've seen secondary logotypes different from primary only by using some sort of geometric shape around it (first image), like a border that wasn't always a simple rectangle. Also more interesting ones with different logo construction (second image). In addition, there are logotypes and simplified version of a logotype (cat with a plant and just a plant on the third image). Is it the same like primary and secondary version?

When do I need several versions of a logotype? Can I create secondary one just because I want it?

first image
second image third image

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The short answer would be that you your primary logo(type) is for ideal situations in which you can use it the way it has been designed in terms of size, color, position, (print) quality, (print) medium and quite possibly even lighting, while your secondary logo(type/s) are for any other variation of the ideal set of circumstances required by the primary one to be displayed properly.

The long answer is that rarely one logo fits and suits all situations and that designers should be aware of that just as much as their customers should be, while at the same time a designer designs for his or her customer's customers in mind.

In using the example of the bearded man, a designer's customer (the company using this logo) might not see a problem with using this one single logo for everything, from their website, to colophon, stamps, invoices, all regardless of size changes, quality changes and any other combination of every change imaginable, depending on which "product" is being branded with a/the logo.

The bearded beau's facial outline could possibly disappear if simply shrunk down to fit on an invoice template, so making it thicker helps with keeping that part of the logo's identity (it's supposed to look like a bearded man with a hair-do and not like Bigfoot, for example) and keeping brand recognition without sacrificing style or identity.

I personally find myself often referencing sources like 50 Meticulous Style Guides Every Startup Should See Before Launching on "Design School" for both inspiration and examples.

I hope this helps.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer and the link you provided is helpful. – Peter Dec 26 '16 at 19:26
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You can make secondary versions of a logo just because you want to, but in most cases doing anything "just because" isn't the best idea; there should be solid reasoning behind it.

You should always at the very minimum create full color and one color (i.e. black & white) versions of a logo (assuming there is a full color version that is—I often create one color logos). Depending on the makeup of the logo it can also be a good idea to create different versions to be used at different sizes too.

There could be an infinite number of other reasons for creating logo variants, based on the requirements of the client and the logos intended uses;

  • Space requirements (vertical vs horizontal vs square)
  • Logotype + icon vs logotype vs icon
  • Different uses such as screen vs print, 40m billboard vs 20mm stamp, laser-cut signage, vehicle livery, 3D model, embroidered etc.

But always design these variations with intent and reasoning based on the needs of the client (and if you do create variants just because you want to, come up with some reasoning...).

  • Thanks, @Cai. If I create a logo that can be filled with multicolored gradient and be in two colors. Are those logos considered as primary and secondary or it's one primary logo with different color palettes? – Peter Dec 26 '16 at 19:23
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    @Peter it could very well be a secondary variation, yes. I think my main point though is that it's the usage, not what they look like, that determines what is secondary or otherwise. In most cases there should really be a single primary logo with secondary variations but in reality it's completely up to you (and your brief). – Cai Dec 26 '16 at 19:46

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