Changing your nonprofit’s logo can be a daunting task; you can leave it entirely in the hands of your chosen graphic designer (and risk getting designs that may or may not fit into any realm of possibility in your mind or anyone else’s) or come to the design table armed with specific ideas of what you do and don’t like. So I’ve outlined 12 different styles or style elements that might be helpful along with some examples of nonprofit logos for each of those styles.
Classic Logo Top
These logos all have a vertical layout with a graphic on top and text just below. The graphics are stylistic (giving the essence of an object or item without being a literal translation of it – i.e. using a swish of a roof outline instead of an entire house.) with simple graphic and simple text with the text and graphic having equal prominence. This layout is more likely to fit better on social media channels (in those little squares they give you for your logo). Traditional but dominant, balanced, centered, formal.
Classic Logo Side
Same as the Classic Logo Top but with the graphic to the left or right of the text with a horizontal layout. Tis layout works well if your organization name is long, you can stack it. Casual traditional, relaxed, supportive.
The trick with these logos is to create balance with elements that actually appear to be off-balance. Instead of having everything perfectly left or right-aligned, these logos bump the text off and use the resulting space to incorporate the graphic to create more interest, or they fit text within other parts of the text (still centered their space) but different. Creative, modern, unique, playful, confident.
These logos play with fonts and character spacing to create a visually appealing boxed / full justified look. These logos always look great on t-shirts. Formal, organized, bold.
Text with a Twist
This creative style incorporates the graphic element actually into the text – changing a letter to reflect something relevant to the nonprofit. Surprising, clever, straightforward, meaningful.
This is a design style that uses different text treatments i.e. font color, font style (like italics or bold) or font type to separate words in the organization name or tagline without having to physically separate them – to allow one or more parts to stand out. Variable, focused, detail oriented.
This style uses color boxes to separate / draw attention to one or more parts of the logo or to encompass the entire logo. This can actually give the nonprofit more control over what color the text is sitting on when it’s used on other sites and provides a nice background pop of color if you want to use white or black for the font color. Simple, structured, well-defined, bold.
Modern Seal or Emblem
This style is an updated version of the old-school seals and emblems that date back to the really EARLY days of logo design; modern versions are simpler, colorful and appealing to millennials and matures alike. This style also looks really great on t-shirts. Strong, informative, official, historical.
This style uses your organizations initials (one or more) as the graphic portion of the logo. You don’t have to actively use an acronym for your name to use this as your logo layout (and really an acronym-only name is not good from a branding perspective anyway!) Simple, traditional, reserved, self-sufficient.
Grunge-y but Good
This style creates an aged or worn look to the logo through texture – this can be a popular style for Millennials. It can be used to show trouble combined with action i.e. the problem has been around forever and is serous. Need, urgency, ageless, action.
Divide & Conquer
This style focuses on a classic way of physically separating the parts of your logo; either separating the graphic from the name or the graphic/name from the tagline below it. It’s a way of directing people to “look at this” and “now look at this”. Organized, dependable, solid foundation.
This logo style really works well only when a nonprofit has reached such a level of recognition in the community that they literally don’t need to use their whole name, or even any name at all. Bold, shining star, powerful, singular.