7 Decisions to Make for Your Logo Usage Rules

Last week, I talked about each section you need to include in your brand guidelines, in addition to why brand guidelines are important for your business. The guidelines are the game plan for you and your team to produce brand consistency with minimal effort and a clear strategy.

Brand guidelines also save you from the time-sucking meetings you would have to go through every time someone new is working for you if you didn’t have the guidelines to share. But what exactly do you need to include in each section, specifically the logo section?

Picture this: you ask your social media manager to create an announcement for your Instagram story to share the upcoming sales for the season. Your manager is familiar with your guidelines and goes on to create the Instagram story graphic.

Later, you decide to take a break from work and see how the announcement looks. Your heart skips a beat when you see that your social media manager stretched out your logo to better fit the entire bottom of the screen and it just looks awful!

It had been hours since your manager posted this announcement, so hundreds of people have seen it already. The stretched logo looks so bad that it devalues your sale, and worse, your brand. People begin to question if you’re a legitimate business and if they should trust you.

Now let’s back up. This whole mess can be avoided! To some extent, the social media manager wasn’t at fault because of their familiarity with your guidelines. In actuality, your guidelines are missing valuable information, like logo usage rules, that inform anyone not to stretch your logo.

This post is going to outline what exactly you should include in the logo section of your brand guidelines so you don’t run into a mortifying event like the one previously mentioned. By the end, you will know what usage rules you should include in the logo section of your brand guidelines so that you can professionally execute brand consistency every time.

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Primary Logo

Many businesses have just this: a primary logo. It’s the main logo you use for your business, and the one that is the most practical for the various platforms your logo is used for.

This logo should work in black and white as well as its original colors. It should be clean, simple, memorable, and recognizable.

Action Steps: In your guidelines, show what your primary logo is. Perhaps you would like to show examples of it in black and white. Have a small paragraph on the reasoning behind its design. Explain what is the maximum and minimum dimensions this logo is used as.

Secondary Logo

Your secondary logo is going to be a little more elaborate than your primary logo, but will otherwise look the same. It’s a great option to have for businesses that want the choice to be represented a little more creatively.

This logo is allowed more creative freedom, so it does not need to work in black and white. What does that mean for the design? Well, it means you can add that watercolor brush stroke or subtle botanical drawing behind the logo, for instance.

Action Steps: In your guidelines, display your secondary logo. Give a couple of sentences to explain the reasoning behind the design. It would be very helpful to also write out examples on when this logo should be used.

Alternate Logos & Family Logos

Some businesses have more logos than the primary and secondary. In this case, naming each logo is a good idea

Alternate logos can be even more decorative than those previously mentioned. They may have more of a seal design, with words traveling around in a circle. They may also have more text incorporated into the design, like an “Est.” or “Made in” to show ties to heritage or location.

Logo Types Examples for Professional Brand Identity Guidelines

Action Steps: You know the drill. List out your logos, give them names for easier reference, and explain what situations are appropriate for their use.

Brand Marks

The brand marks, or brand assets, are the graphic elements that are part of your logo and have been secluded to be used as decorations.

Different than iconography, brand marks exist in your logo, whereas iconography does not show up in any of your logos.

Action Steps: Display all of your brand marks. You don’t have to give them names, but it may be helpful to do so. Elaborate on when the brand marks should be used.


The cute little favicon. It’s the simplest design you can have that represents your logo. It’s usually a brand mark, except it’s specially designed for the tiny space it lives in: the 16×16 pixels in the browser tabs.

Favicons are actually altered brand marks to maximize brand recognition. Take Wander Design Co. as an example. Below on the left you can see what the “W” would look like it favicon size, and on the right you can see what it looks like when I “fattened it up” a little. The one on the right is easier to recognize at a smaller size thanks to its slightly amplified volume.

Favicon Examples for Professional Brand Identity Guidelines

Action Steps: Hold off on the favicon for now. Moving on to…

Clearspace and Sizing

This topic is so important, and that is the clearspace and sizing rules for each logo. You can get as nitty gritty as you think will benefit you, but the standard is to explain these rules for the primary logo, secondary or alternate logo, and favicon only.

Clearspace is the amount of space you want to protect your logo with. This way, no other graphic elements will get close enough to reduce its recognition or value. A handy trick is to use an element already in your logo as a measuring tool.

As for sizing, create a visual to illustrate how small each logo can be used in. Here’s where the favicon comes in.

Logo Dimensions Examples for Professional Brand Identity Guidelines

Action Steps: Create a graphic that illustrates the space required around your logo. Show how small each logo should be used, and show an example of the favicon. Give a short description to put everything into context.

Improper Usage

Now, an essential for those that aren’t design-savvy. There are many examples you can give for improper usage, and here are a few common ones to start:

Don’t stretch or squeeze the logo to distort proportions
Don’t eliminate a section of the logo
Don’t crop the logo in any way
Don’t present the logo in outline only
Don’t add drop shadows, glows, or effects like bevel or emboss

Action Steps: Create your rules of improper usage. Give a short paragraph to advocate why following these rules are important. Give visual examples of improper logo usage.


Having a clearly outlined logo section in your brand guidelines is essential for you and your team to properly carry the values of your brand. With a well-designed visual announcement, your audience will feel that they can trust you and that you are a professional before they can even think.

You will be relieved in the long run that you invested some time initially to craft each subsection of your logo section.

So, take out a sheet of paper, or create a new Google Doc, and write what is important for you to include now, what can wait for later, and start fleshing out the contents.

Let me know how you’re doing with this by messaging me on Instagram. Good luck!

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