The Big Logo

Size Does Matter, But Not in the Way You Think

“The client asked if we could make the company logo any bigger.”

I saw a look pass between the two graphic designers. It was subtle. It was knowing. It made me curious. This writer had to investigate further.

I sidled over to them. “Hey, guys,” I hesitantly began, “Why the look? What’s the deal?”

The designers said they’d talk. But only on the condition of anonymity, so I’m referring to them by just their titles.

I tried to start with context. “How often do you have clients asking if you can make the logo on their website bigger?”

“Well, dollface,” began the Lead Designer, “People don’t often ask if their logo should be bigger; they just straight up make the request. I’d say we hear this on easily more than half our projects.”

“It’s a common request,” seconded the Intermediate Designer.

Like an overly large four-year-old, my next question was simply, “Why?” Why, indeed, do clients make this request?

ID told me that he thought that clients who request larger logos think it will help to establish or promote their brands, but this tactic can actually do more harm than good, taking focus away from the overall goal of the website. LD added that “hours, dollars, blood, sweat and tears” go into creating a brand identity. Often the logo is the showpiece of all that effort, so people want to show it off. And as both designers have designed a logo or two — for themselves and for clients — in their time, they can appreciate the desire to show off what comes out of that process.

LD continued, “The thing is, there’s a difference between introducing yourself with a handshake and greeting somebody with a head butt. Making your logo bigger to ‘make sure people see it’ is akin to hitting people over the head with it.”

I noted the metaphor, and decided to never irk him. Or perhaps wear my bike helmet when making crazy requests of the Lead Designer.

Then I went looking for guidelines. Just how big should the logo be on your website? LD told me that the logo on many well-known websites, including the likes of Amazon, Shopify, Skype and ebay, tends to take up 15 to 25 percent of the site’s horizontal space. He lowered his voice when he gave me the numbers: 100 to 220 pixels in width. He said that throwing these numbers into the logo conversation would get me in good with designers.

The designers’ attention started to shift toward some other Important Projects, the details of which they were not at liberty to divulge. But the Lead Designer had enough time for some parting remarks.

“If you’ve got a well-designed logo, it should work at any size; what’s important is that it’s recognizable and legible. You don’t want to give it the spotlight — a tip of the hat is all your average user needs to be assured they’ve navigated to the website they intended, and they can continue to associate your branding with your services.”

I looked up from my frantic note-taking to thank them. They were gone, leaving behind nothing but an impression of effortless cool.


James Kingsley and Andy Ratz are rtraction’s Lead and Intermediate Designers. They are both award winners; neither has ever called me “dollface.”

If you’re an artist or work with an arts or cultural organization in Canada, and need a new logo (or a website update, assistance with your social media, or some shiny new ideas for your marketing communications plan), you should check out rtraction’s new Arts Grant for the opportunity to receive $25,000 worth of our services (including the chance to work with the delightful and talented James and Andy). We’ll kick off the second annual Arts Grant in the fall; register at www.artsgrant.ca to get more info as soon as it’s available.