Branding

Can a Brand Have Multiple Logos?

You might have seen a brand use different design elements and logo variations, and sometimes even different logos, to represent their brand. If this had you confused and wondering whether a brand can have multiple logos, then I’m here to set the record straight.

In general, brands only have one primary logo and design mark that represents their brand identity. There are, however, instances where brands use different variations of the logo, sub-logos to represent different divisions, products or services, sister companies, etc.

So let’s take a look at when and how brands could use different logos to represent their brand and what all of these different methods mean.

What is meant by multiple logos?

Firstly, it is important to properly define and understand what exactly is meant by multiple logos.

There are many instances in which brands may use multiple logos like logo variations, secondary brand marks, and when the company has an elaborate brand architecture.

These however, although they might be perceived as multiple logos, are generally not considered logos in terms of representing a brand’s identity. They are simply variations of a brand’s logo or secondary elements of a brand’s identity that compliments a brand’s logo.

Brand identity

Your brand identity is made up of various elements that all work together to create a unique, cohesive look and feel that is the representation of your brand’s vision and core values.

It is standard practice for brands to have only one brand identity and only one logo that acts as the visual representation of that identity.

There are however design elements within a brand’s identity that could also be representative of the brand and be considered as a different, or complementary, logo.

A brand could, and do in most cases, have many variations of their logo for use in different situations.

Logo Variations

Because brands’ logos appear in many different places and under different circumstances, it is standard practice for brands to have variations of their primary logo to best represent the brand’s identity in all possible situations.

A great example of this is when you have a vertically designed logo and have to use it on collaterals that only allows for horizontal space. If you try and squeeze your logo into that space, 99% of the time it ain’t gonna look pretty.

These logo variations are usually defined in the brand style guide or brand guidelines and include the logo in a vertical format, horizontal format, on a white background, on a dark background, brand mark only, other logo lockups, etc.

Although these might be seen as different logos, they are in fact all the same logo and just different variations of the same logo as it represents the brand’s identity.

Secondary brand mark

Not all brands have a secondary brand mark, but the overwhelming majority do.

A secondary brand mark is a distinctive design element that is used on all your collaterals etc and also represents the identity of a brand. It is generally used secondary to a brand’s logo and is most often something taken from, inspired by, or an interpretation of the logo icon.

Brand architecture

Similar to something like a family tree, brand architecture is a system that organizes a brand family in a way to show the complete structure of a brand and how it all fits together. It also helps customers to make sense of a brand.

In the various models of brand architectures, brands might use multiple logos to separate certain elements or to help make sense of the brand.

But even this, once again, is not using more than one logo to represent the brand’s identity, but rather as extensions thereof.

Let’s examine the various brand architecture models and the various ways in which brands use “multiple logos”. There are four main models namely a Banded House, Endorsed Brands, Sub Brands, and a House of Brands.

Branded House

A Branded House features a strong master brand with its various extensions or divisions. This is usually a great way of presenting different divisions, products, services, departments, or extensions of your brand. Each division would stand alone and act on its own while still drawing from the master brand through association and thereby being associated with the same brand image of the master brand.

Examples

Some examples of a Branded House are:

  • FedEx
Advantages
  • Easily recognizable
  • Increases awareness of the brand
  • More streamlined marketing
  • New products can easily leverage the equity of the master brand
Disadvantages
  • One product, service, division or extension’s failure, or bad reputation, can damage the rest of the structure including the master brand.
  • All products, services, divisions, or extensions need to aligned with the master brand and limited to the master brand’s identity.

Sub-Brands

Sub Brands can be a variation and/or combination of all three other brand architecture models. It’s often useful with acquisitions and mergers to organize and structure the new brand architecture.

Examples
  • Apple
  • Virgin
Advantages
  • It utilized the benefits of the brand architecture models it combines
Disadvantages
  • High marketing costs
  • Very complex system

Endorsed Brands

Brands, products, or services with a clear link to the master brand through endorsement, while still being separate brands, products, or services in their own right.

Examples
  • Marriot
Advantages
  • Enables cross-selling between brands
  • Leverages and benefits from the reputation of the master brand
  • Lower marketing costs
Disadvantages
  • One brand, product or service’s failure, or bad reputation, can damage the rest of the endorsed brands and the master brand itself.
  • All products, services, divisions, or extensions need to aligned with the master brand and limited to the master brand’s identity.

House of Brands

Brands that are completely separate from each other with their own unique individual brand identities, but falls under a master brand. Customers are often not aware that the individual brands are part of a larger brand architecture of a master brand, or in some cases, don’t even know the master brand.

Examples
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Coca Cola
Advantages
  • Whatever affects one brand has no effect on the others
  • Completely different audiences and markets
  • Each brand has its own identity, strategy, marketing, etc
Disadvantages
  • Very costly and time-consuming structure for the master brand
  • Brands don’t benefit from the reputation of the master brand

Conclusion

So now that we’ve gone through many situations where brands often have more than one logo (as it might seem) or sub-logos, you can see these situations are mere extensions of the master brand and that brands almost always only have one logo to represent their brand and identity.

For more on brand identities and an in-depth look at how to create your own complete brand identity for your business, please check out my complete guide to creating a brand identity here, or get my free ebook on creating a brand identity here by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

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