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How digital devices are changing what makes a good business logo

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Vince Bridgman

Mobile phone with app logos

Since the dawn of branding, business logos have had to adapt to fit many different formats. Billboards, magazines & newspapers, televisions, computer screens. Each of these formats has required something different from corporate logo design.

Now our mobile devices, such as phones, tablets and even smart watches, are challenging conceptions about what it is that makes a good logo. Designers are once again faced with the challenge of conveying brand image and identity on these newer, smaller digital platforms.

How to design a business logo for mobile users

Use a simple symbol

“Thanks to mobile, the era of the complicated logo is dead.” These are the words of LinkedIn’s Digital Marketing Leader Jennifer Bunting. Her article on making mobile friendly logos backs up her statement with this: businesses need to think about what to use as their mobile app icon and badge on the App Store.

These considerations have led many businesses to rebrand with logos that can easily be adapted to fit into a small square box. Airbnb, for example, added their now-famous upside down heart/capital-A symbol to their logo so that the symbol alone could appear on the app button, and they didn’t have to cram the whole company name on there.

Southwest Airlines did almost exactly the same thing, replacing their giant plane logo with a small rainbow-coloured heart, and using the heart as the app icon. New brands and startups are increasingly working symbols like these into their branding from the start, recognising the importance of a mobile app to their business strategy.

Tackle the typography

In July 2015, Facebook changed their logo — but only very slightly. So slightly, in fact, that some users may not have noticed the change.

Our branding expertise tells us that the difference here is simply the typography. While the old logo was more hard-edged and chunky, the new typeface is smoother, thinner and rounder.

This change is in line with other recent rebrands. Airbnb comes to mind again. Their original graffiti-like bubble writing was swapped out for a slim, two dimensional font with crisp gaps between the letters.

Much like the addition of simple symbols, this change was directly inspired by the mass adoption of mobile devices. On mobile screens, which are smaller and therefore potentially more difficult to read, the clearer and cleaner the font, the better.

‘Mobile first’ means logos must be responsive

The most important thing about mobile logo design, though, is seamlessly integrating it into your logos across different platforms. Recently, Google announced its ‘mobile first’ policy for online searches, which means websites that look good and work well on mobile devices will receive a boost in rankings.

This does not mean mobile versions of websites, entirely different to the desktop versions, but rather websites that adapt dynamically for either mobile or desktop, depending on how a user is accessing it.

Google themselves rolled out a rebrand in line with this change, making their logo slimmer, clearer and more two-dimensional, and creating a multicoloured ‘G’ symbol to act as their app icon.

As this collection of responsive web logos shows, major brands create logos that reduce in complexity as a browser window gets larger and smaller, thereby increasing their suitability for the screen size.

Since mobile and tablet internet usage overtook desktop internet usage last year, responsive and mobile-friendly business logos are essential. All of our business names come with mobile-friendly logo and typography designs, equipping you fully for the mobile first age.

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