Why a Bigger Logo Can Harm Your Brand

Why a Bigger Logo Can Harm Your Brand by Ottawa Graphic Designer idApostle

Getting your new 60″ television home, you open the box, and with a little help lift it onto the stand and push the power button. Stepping back, the first thing that you realize is not the impressive screen size, but instead, the size of the gaudy manufacturers logo that is now a permanent distraction. You now have to look at that oversized logo every time you sit down to watch the latest episode of Dexter. You have the added annoyance of the beast fighting with the ever growing “bug” that networks place in the bottom right of the television screen. Rather than accomplish what both logos were intended for—to foster a positive association with the brand, they are distracting, annoying, ugly, and negative attributes are being associated with them.

Logo Pride

Inevitably all graphic designers are asked (or told) to make the logo bigger by their client. Possibly out of a sense of pride?  A need for their logo to be larger than their competitors?  Concern over an aging population, and their ability to see clearly? Whatever the reason, logos seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

Is the logo the most important item on a product? When it comes to clothing, there is certainly a select group that buys into the brand name and feels pride in wearing a portable billboard. When it comes to most consumer products and even marketing materials, however, I think the logo is often over emphasized, resulting in a failure to achieve its mandate. In most cases, a logo should be large enough to be seen but not overshadow the content, or the usability of the item it is adorning. It should be a badge of honor that is tastefully placed with a sense of balance and proportion. In almost all cases, it is better for a logo to whisper than to scream at your audience.

Always Ask, “Why?”

So what to do when your next client wants the logo bigger? Ask why. What is the purpose and does increasing the size of the logo achieve it? If it comes down to pride, suggest they consider sponsoring a local soccer team. They like big logos.


  • Lauren says:
    Nov 10 at 01:57

    Good points. I was hoping for a bit more, something I can actually use when dealing with clients than the brand new tv’s logo. Of course designers would notice something like that (hell, I don’t even care for the shade of grey our tv uses as a highlight on the hardware, but my engineer fiance has never even noticed). One of the most annoying, often joked about, is our clients love for gigantic logos… how do you arm yourself against that?

  • Steve Zelle says:
    Nov 10 at 10:32

    Thanks for the comment Lauren. While I don’t think there is one solution that will work for all clients, there are a number of things you can try:

    1. Discuss the role of a logo in an overall visual brand. There are many other brand elements that can be used to foster recognition.

    2. If a client is having trouble seeing that a logo is too big on a letterhead design for example, print out multiple copies — an army of large logos will scream even louder.

    3. Show examples of similar products with tastefully sized logos beside examples with oversized logos to illustrate (and explain) why one works better.

    4. I can’t recall what designer it was, but he would intentionally present work with the logo smaller than he wanted it to be, knowing the client would increase it. He would then enlarge it to the size he always intended it to be. (Shady, I know but I am sure he was after the clients best interests)

    5. One of the best gifts you can give any design is time. Ask your client to live with what you present for a while.

    I fear this is not something that will go away so we just need to keep educating clients and defending tastefully sized logos. Best of luck!

  • Bhupesh says:
    Nov 10 at 10:36

    Well said.
    I think sponsorship is the way to answer the clients.
    Thanks for the article.

  • Steve Zelle says:
    Nov 13 at 11:00

    Thanks Bhupesh

    I came across this quote by Paul Rand this morning adt thought it added some value to the conversation:

    Preoccupation with any one element of a visual object at the expense of others is impoverishing, and poverty . . . is not a virtue of design.

  • Steve says:
    Nov 17 at 11:32

    You are right on.

    There was a Saturday Night Live skit a while back that parodied the overuse of the graphics being plastered on the screen.

    From news crawls, to station branding, to weather bugs, and previews / promos for other TV shows on the station, etc, we all need that 60″ LCD TV just so we can view our show on what is now a 20″ live area.

    One of the best use of logos on clothing I have seen is the NorthFace brand. They positioned their logo on the back, right shoulder so others can see it (good)and so the garment doesn’t look like a billboard (better).

  • Dave says:
    Nov 17 at 11:38

    LOL I’m not sure if telling my clients to sponsor a soccer team would land me any referrals. Before I tell my clients anything I need to check my pride, in the end they are the ones that put food on my table. Hey if they want there logo big, and insist on it, fine with me.

  • Steve Zelle says:
    Nov 17 at 11:53

    Steve — I checked youtube for the video, but no luck. Would like to see it. Thanks

    Dave, It has very little to do with pride and is all about protecting your clients best interests. A designer’s responsibility to a client goes far beyond delivering a graphic and sometimes requires explaining that “what they want” is not “what they need”. I do appreciate your joining in.

  • Matt says:
    Dec 10 at 12:49

    It’s hard to pull the “ask why” with clients. The response I usually get is “I want it bigger so it’s not over-looked”. Then it becomes a matter of opinion between you and the client about what size will not be over-looked.

    I found a simple trick that usually works in convincing the client the logo doesn’t need to overshadow the content. Or at the very least, provide them with a comparison that leaves them little room for retort. I remind them of what their logo is, in essence; their company’s signature. Then I have them look at their own signature on the service agreement they signed with me and point out that they didn’t feel it was necessary to sign their name across the entire page in all caps with a permanent marker.

    Sounds cheesy but it has worked for me. Just be sure you don’t say it in a condescending way.

  • Dennis Salvatier says:
    Mar 16 at 10:43

    Every designer has to deal with this at some point. I can happily say it’s only happened once in 2002 and I asked why. her answer was “it will look better”. My response was “to who, you?”. Needless to say it turned into a thing and eventually we parted ways after a few projects. I don’t miss her.

  • Rajesh Satyarthi says:
    Jun 2 at 06:52

    If only you can teach your clients on how the size effects the brand’s perception to audience.

  • Telas says:
    Jun 27 at 03:15

    What I do and usually helps is to tell the client that multi billion companies such as Facebook and Twitter and Google have small logos for a reason. It has to be big enough to notice but not huge to get in the way.

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