When One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Across the country, the new school year is well underway. And at Black Rock Middle School, a brand-new school in Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion School District, students are building up their new identity as the Royals—a moniker the community selected to complement the Dragons and the Knights at its two existing middle schools.

Bringing the Royals’ mascot to life—in both creative and practical terms—was an exciting project for us. After much collaboration and a number of iterations, we landed on a chess pawn wearing a crown. By incorporating a chess piece, we were able to tie in the district’s reputation as high achieving while creating a distinctive interpretation of “royal.” In addition, the gender-neutral iconography of the pawn stretching tall brought out the youthfulness of a middle-schooler standing on the threshold of young adulthood.

There was just one problem… Although the full mascot image was perfect for sports uniforms and signage, it was too complex to function as a logo for applications like letterhead and business cards.

Many organizations have discovered that when it comes to logos, one size doesn’t always fit all. From square social media icons to nonprofits with extra-long names, there are lots of reasons a secondary logo might be required. Let’s take a look at a few examples to see how some organizations have tackled this challenge.

Create a simplified alternate.

In Black Rock’s case, we ultimately created a simplified version of their full logo for business and academic use. This “business” version extracted the crown element of the iconography along with typography and colors that linked it to the more elaborate sports version. In other organizations it might mean having a version of the logo that is purely typographic. Using separate but visually connected logos creates flexibility while maintaining brand memorability.

Stack the logo.

When we created the logo for the Histiocytosis Association, we knew from the start that they would need a stacked version of their logo as a secondary option. Even without long names, many organizations opt for both horizontal and vertical formats of their logo for the versatility these versions provide.

Use your second-reference name.

The Philadelphia Foundation had an existing logo that they didn’t want to change, but they came to us in need of something that would work for their social media pages, where they needed a square shape. With such a long name, even stacking the words didn’t work without making the type tiny. As it turns out, The Philadelphia Foundation, which does lots of public media advertising, heavily utilizes its URL—philafound.org. We treated philafound.org as a second-reference name and created a (very informative) logo using this shorter name. Some other organizations that make use of their second-reference names in their logos include Penn (University of Pennsylvania) and DelArt (Delaware Art Museum).

When it comes to your brand, repetition and consistency don’t necessarily mean always identical. After all, your communications have to work in the real world!

Have a brand challenge you’re trying to untangle? Give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at info@iriscreative.com.