UI/UX Design

What is a Submark Logo? – A Complete Guide for Branding Success!

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
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What is a Submark Logo

Logos are an essential branding element that represents your brand’s visual identity. But your logo may not suit all the places where it needs to be used. That’s why submarks – a compact version of the primary logo – are used to give you more flexibility.

Let’s dig deeper and know everything about submark logos.

What is a submark logo?

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As you know, a logo is an essential branding element that reflects the visual identity of a brand. It includes a combination of symbols, text, and graphics to convey the company’s message or values.

So, what is a submark logo?

A submark logo is an alternate smaller version of the primary logo that is meant to fit in more compact uses. You need this in situations where space is limited, such as on small items or social media profiles. It’s a simplified version of the main logo that contains minimum design elements.

Why do you need a submark logo?

A submark logo is very useful in a variety of situations. Some reasons you need them are

Professionalism

Your primary brand logo may not be suitable for the limited space available on different media.

Stretching, resizing, or cropping your main logo for those slots will not only make the logo unrecognizable, but it will also look very amateurish. A submark logo will look neat, be familiar to the viewer, and come off as professional.

Promotional versatility

A primary logo may not work in certain scenarios wherein a submark logo would be a perfect fit. The versatility of promotional opportunities that are opened up by a submark logo is massive, which will help advertise your company in many creative ways.

Brand reinforcement

Being able to use a different variation of your logo will give you more flexibility to do your branding in many situations. Using just one primary logo too many times can prove to be monotonous to the viewer every time they see it. A submark logo will not be annoying to the eyes while simultaneously helping increase brand awareness.

How to create a submark logo?

So, how do you design a submark? There are no established rules and the best method for you will depend on the type of primary logo you have. Try out a few or even a mixture of some of the following methods to get the best results.

Use interesting geometric shapes

Using a geometrical shape along with a key element of your primary logo is a common practice.

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Here, the primary logo has an icon with some text mentioning the company name and offerings. To create the submark, they only took the icon from the primary logo and put a diamond border around it.

The diamond shape was picked purely out of a thematic basis that seemed to go with the aesthetics of a cup. You can even create a variation within a sub-logo with a different background color.

If you are willing to use this approach, try to find a shape that reflects your brand identity. Since there is no fixed shape, you can play with many different shapes and finalize on one that looks and feels great.

Add an element that represents the products or services of your company

Another approach to designing a submark logo is using an icon that represents your offerings.

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With the name ‘Camplove” you can tell that they provide camping supplies. What better way to represent the company than a camping tent?

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For the submark, they used a camp-like logo (which they had already used in the primary logo) along with a heart-shaped one (another already used element) to signify their business.

You can make your own short and simple logo based on your products or services if you want to try this approach, especially if you do not have such icons in your logo and incorporate brand elements into it.

Use creative text layouts and company initials

If you have a text-based logo, you can try using a different and compact text layout.

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Here, you can see a text-based format for the primary logo. You can rearrange the text in a creative way to represent the logo in a smaller space. This way, you won’t have to worry about making a separate logo with new design elements.

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By strategically using initials, and the company names and services in a circular manner, you can easily get it done yourself.

Create a new, unique design from the primary logo

You will find it difficult to take elements out of a complex logo. In such cases, there will be no other way but to create a submark logo from scratch that still adheres to the design philosophy of the primary one and conveys your brand message.

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You can tell that Thimble + Hive offers products related to bees such as honey, beeswax, bee pollen, etc. They have used the imagery of a bee to convey that message. Complex imagery like this can be difficult to size down while keeping it recognizable.

So, what to do in such a situation? You make a new one!

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Here what they did was they took the “T”, “H” and “+” from the logo and combined them creatively. After that, they put a hexagonal border around it which represented a beehive, keeping in line with the bee design concept.

Rearrange the primary logo elements

Sometimes, all you need to do is simply rearrange your logo texts and elements.

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In this example, you can see the only difference between the primary and the submark is how they are arranged together. Every element used is pretty much the same (except for the small difference with CO).

Try moving around the elements to find out if you can work out something like this.

Simply use one aspect of your logo

A simpler approach than the previous method is using just one element to represent your brand through the submark. While easy, it is still as effective as other methods. However, be wary that this type of design philosophy suits the well-known brands more.

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Pepsi and a lot of large corporations have adopted this design approach. While they work mostly because the business entity is already widely known, if you have a distinguishable logo element with a decent client base, you can give it a try. 

When to use a submark logo?

There are a lot of scenarios where submarks are necessary, such as:

Social media profile pictures

Social media profile pictures are usually displayed at the top as a very small circular icon (In the case of X – formerly known as Twitter – it is a square icon for brands). Oftentimes, primary logos do not look natural and do not fit in those small spaces well.

Submark logos allow you to serve the same purpose as the primary logo but in a small space that does not look out of place. It gives visitors a nice preview of the whole brand page before they scroll down for further posts and stuff. 

Merchandising

Submark logos are great to put on merchandise when logos would feel too distracting or out of place to put on products. You can also create stickers, stamps, and magnets that you can use for various promotional uses.

Website favicon and footer

The favicon is the small icon you see on top of the browsing tab when visiting a website.

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A submark logo can be used to fill up that spot. Some may prefer to design a separate website favicon but a submark logo will work just fine here.

This submark logo can also be used as a footer to signify the end of the page.

Business cards and apparels

Primary logos can take up too much space on a business card, especially when you are trying to use only one side of the card. 

Similarly, primary logos may not feel aesthetically pleasing to be put on a t-shirt. Submark logos can be used for clothing items like employee uniforms, aprons, t-shirts, etc.

Email and letter signature

You can add a submark after your signature to end your letters and emails.

Watermark

A submark can also be used as a watermark for a lot of things e.g. documents or image content.

Common Challenges in Submark Logo Design

Missing essential elements

The point of designing a submark logo is to make a compact version of your primary logo that is still recognizable. It can be tough to balance what you need to cut off and what you need to keep. Exclude too much and you will be left with something that has nothing to do with your brand. And exclude too little and it will not be compatible enough.

Legal trademark issues

When in the process of making a submark, you may become too focused on creating the perfect extension to your primary logo and accidentally create one that is similar to a different brand logo. This may then cause trademark issues with that company and cause you to fight lawsuits and spend unnecessary resources elsewhere.

Branding cost

Designing logos may seem inexpensive at first, but it can be quite costly in the long run. While the process may be simple, you will have to monitor it carefully for results. It can be a long process of evaluating results and redesigning logos, which can significantly increase your branding costs down the line.

Delayed brand association

Knowing if your submark is associated with your company to the public eye can be difficult to figure out. As a result, you will get delayed results on whether your submark logo is working or not, and if it doesn’t, it’ll take long to establish your customer base. 

Missing insights

You may fail to incorporate market trends or customer preferences in your submark. As a result, your design might not be as successful as you had hoped and end up redesigning with no basis to go on. It is important to consider both the company’s and the target audiences’ needs so you can find the best way to appeal to them with logos.

Precautions

There are some things that you will need to keep in mind. They are:

  • Your submark logo is an extension of your primary logo, not the other way around. So before you start implementing your submark logo into your operations, make sure the audience has seen your primary logo a lot. Once your company becomes established, you do not have to worry about using the submark logo too much.
  • Do not over-use your sub mark. Do not spam it everywhere. Use it whenever you think it is necessary.
  • If you already have an established company, a submark can be a way to update your brand to appeal to more modern audiences.

Conclusion

A submark logo is a neat little variation on your logo with a lot of uses in today’s marketplace. Make sure to properly design your one, or maybe hire a professional team to do it for you. Reap its benefits for the success of your company.

FAQ

Q. Is it a good idea to design a submark logo myself?

It is a feasible solution to DIY a design but you may lack the data necessary to create a working logo right away. It is recommended to have a professional team with high accolades to make a design for you to save costs in the long run.

Q. Are there other types of logos I should be using?

Ideally, you need at least three types of logos.

  • Primary logo
  • Secondary logo
  • Submark logo

You may also need a favicon icon for your website but your submark logo can work as that just fine. Note: Secondary logos are very similar to primary logos with some variations.


Andy Gibson
VIP Contributor
Andy Gibson
WordPress Developer

Andy began using WordPress since its inception. He has worked on numerous projects designing, coding, and operating WP sites for over a period of more than 14 years.

Andy has a knack for developing a complete platform from just an idea and enjoys optimizing complex integrations so they run for years on their own requiring little or no maintenance. He also crafts features based on what the job at hand calls for; rather than using pre-existing plugins and themes for an easy way out.


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