Find the mobile logo design standards that are critical for success – and standing out – in the digital age. Mobile isn’t just a method of delivery. Today, it’s the foundation of the entire customer experience. CoSchedule found that 91% of social media users are now accessing the networks exclusively or most often from a mobile device, and Google says about 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices.
On mobile devices, brands are tasked with the challenge of representing their company and values aesthetically, simply, and in a way that stands out from the crowd. We see companies temporarily changing their logos to show support for events, movements, and organizations all the time – this is a testament to just how fluid and reactive brands (and logos) must be to get noticed by mobile users. It’s a different game than it was just 5 years ago.
You’ll find the following information (and more!) in this Mobile Logo Design Guide:
- Basics: screen size, pixels, resolution
- Mobile logo resolution recommendations
- Mobile- and social-optimized design basics
- The 3 Cs of mobile logo design: Content, Color, and Context
- How to ensure your logo can scale up or down
- Flashmarks and mobile logo design
Ready to learn what a mobile-optimized logo should contain (and what it shouldn’t)? Before we delve into design recommendations and tips, we’ll outline a few mobile device basics and specs that are important to understand. These principles will help you craft a mobile-optimized visual brand identity. Let’s get started!
Why mobile is different
1. Screen size. Keeping the screen size (the diagonal length from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner) of mobile users in mind when designing a logo is critical.
Part of looking good on mobile is making sure your logo accounts for the size of the average screens your brand will be viewed on – and while these have gotten larger over the years, they’re still tiny compared to desktop and laptop screens.
That means your logo will look smaller to mobile users, and they’re now the majority.
2. Pixels and resolution. Every mobile device uses pixels, or small groups of colored dots on a screen, to make up what we see on a screen. You’ll sometimes see pixels referred to as dots, as in dpi (dots per inch).
Resolution is the measure of how many pixels are going across the screen multiplied by the number of pixels going down the screen.
When you see 2 numbers separated by an “x” in the context of device specifications (as above), you’re seeing the resolution of a device with a screen; if a device’s resolution is 1920×1080, there are 1,920 pixels going across and 1,080 pixels going down the screen.
Considering the average smartphone screen sizes we saw above (from 4.7” to 6.3”), at 1920×1080, those pixels are really packed in! That’s high resolution, especially considering the original iPhone’s resolution was a mere 320×480.
Ideal mobile logo resolution
Screen size, pixels, and resolution are not only relevant to mobile logo design – they’re the cornerstones of it. Because of the smaller screens, higher pixel density, and higher resolution of mobile devices, branding visuals like logos have to be designed specifically for these modern digital environments.
For a brand’s logomark to look its best on high-resolution mobile devices, it also has to be high-resolution (packed with pixels that help it look great even when scaled down to a small size, like on mobile devices).
Low-resolution files are fine for use in email, but for most uses a modern brand has for their logo, high-resolution files (usually .PNG or .SVG) are a must.
While the actual resolution will vary based on the height and width of your logo, the ideal mobile logo resolution should be 300 dpi (dots per inch). This is slightly excessive for a reason – when you shrink the logo down for smaller spaces or enlarge it for any reason, it will retain its quality and clarity because there are so many dots (or pixels) per inch.
Downloading high-res logo files
Most free logo design tools – those worth your time, anyway – aren’t “free” across the board. Instead, many offer the low-resolution version of a logo for free and attach a fee for downloading the high-res and (sometimes) vector files.
We researched, tried, and reviewed the top 7 free logo design tools to offer you a solid, unbiased comparison that includes everything from cost to symbol quality and file types offered (check that comparison out below).
Read more: Best Free Logo Design Tool Comparison
Now we’re ready to get into the specifics – this is the fun part! We came up with the 3 Cs of mobile logo design: Content, Color, and Context. That’s where our design journey really starts!
The 3 Cs of mobile logo design
Content. The content of a logo matters more on mobile devices than it ever has in the past because there’s limited “real estate” available for them here. Look at the Prudential Insurance logo examples below. They started in 1870 with a hard-to-read font, a highly complicated illustration, and a frame/badge around it.
Company details and policy information were written out directly within the logo: “Both sexes, Ages 1 to 70, Amounts $15- 50,000.” That complexity was okay at the time because of the way logos were used – they certainly weren’t being printed on t-shirts or used on websites as they are today. Advertising wasn’t as pervasive as it is now, so companies had to squeeze in whatever information they could when they could.
Fast forward to their modern designs – see how much simpler they became? It’s no coincidence that this simplification happened as the digital age was beginning. Viewing logos on mobile devices as we do today means that ideally, logos need to be simpler than the 1990 rendering in the example below. We’ll talk more about this under the section titled Flashmarks and mobile logo design.
Color. Seasoned brands and big companies often reduce their branding color scheme to one or two dominant colors, and that’s no accident. On the smaller screens of mobile devices, graphics and visuals are reduced in size and the more colors in a design, the more chaotic it appears at a small size.
For the ultimate simplicity on mobile and beyond, a one-color or monochrome design are the best choices. There has been some research into the average user’s perception of different colors, but there’s nothing definitive that says your logo needs to be a certain hue to appeal to customers.
We do know that a majority of logos out there are blue – an overwhelming majority, in fact. As of 2017, nearly 53% of all brands had blue logos, and slightly more than 80% of healthcare companies had blue logos.
One factor that may make the color blue so popular for branding is that it’s the self-reported favorite color of more than half of all men and women in the United States. Companies want to take advantage of that and use a color that they know most people enjoy.
With this information in mind, it may be wise to try out a few other color options for your logo to stand out more on mobile. With consumers seeing a “sea of blue” in their news feeds, having green, red, purple, yellow, orange, pink, black and white, or brown branding can be just the thing your company needs to connect with users in a fast-scrolling world.
Context. Users on smartphones, tablets, phablets, and smartwatches will likely view a logo in multiple contexts from the same device:
- App stores
- Social media
- Email newsletters
This makes it so important to ensure your logo is showing up and showing out in every context it will be viewed in.
The only way to display a logo with quality and clarity on mobile devices, whether it’s small or large, is to design it as cleanly as possible and have a special, simplified version for use on social media – no fine lines, no extraneous detail, and no unnecessary elements. That’s what we’ll explore next.
Flashmarks and mobile logo design
Solving the mobile “challenge” presented for logos and branding is as simple as, well, simplifying. The logo-derived symbols most big brands are using as their social media profile picture (in lieu of their full logo) are called flashmarks.
You already recognize a few examples of flashmarks, or simplified logos without text: Apple’s bitten apple, the Nike swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches, the Dallas Cowboys’ star.
Why are brands using flashmarks instead of their full logo on social media now?
Text becomes illegible and distorted when it’s shrunk down to fit small spaces, like the social media profile picture or avatar space on mobile devices. The flashmarks solution? Drop it (for social media use, anyway).
Highly detailed icons and symbols with fine lines bleed together and look messy when they’re forced into the smaller area of mobile screens. The flashmarks solution? Take out all the unnecessary elements and simplify the symbol as much as possible for increased scalability.
Not only is the result cleaner with more quality and clarity than chaotic designs, but it’s also mobile- and social-optimized. That’s a win-win – just ask Apple.
Once you understand the basics and know the components of logo design that look great on mobile devices, you’re ready to hang with the big brands. Any lingering questions on mobile logo design? Drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to provide answers!