Design logos for both horizontal and vertical use

By Dan Antonelli

Posted on Saturday, January 13th, 2024

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We’ve all seen examples of great logos that work well on a business card but fail miserably in the outdoor realm because of format and size issues. Quite often, this is because the logo was designed to work only horizontally or vertically. This is unfair to the client, because there are times when they may be forced to use their logo in the opposite format—which can decrease the effectiveness of the graphic.

When a vertical logo is “forced” on a truck door, for example, it often doesn’t work as well. The natural canvas of a truck door calls for a vertical format. The horizontal logo may have to be significantly reduced in size to fit the door—decreasing readability and impact.

Conversely, if you are designing a post sign, and the client’s logo is in a horizontal format, the logo may well look awkward with a traditional vertical post sign structure.

We generally avoid this issue by doing a little more research upfront with the client. We make a specific inquiry into the type of vehicles they have, and plan accordingly. Often, when we pitch the logo concepts, we also show a quick mockup of the logo being implemented on their vehicle. This serves to help the client better envision the integration of their brand.

We might also show how the brand is integrated on a business card. The one thing I have learned—even after having designed over 500 logos—is that clients can’t foresee anything. And I tend to forget that sometimes, because in my mind I already know and can “see” how their brand is going to be designed for the truck, card and website. The client, on the other hand, really doesn’t have the vision to see the possible uses and needs.

An additional way to consider the logo design formatting issue is to design for both vertical and horizontal usage, right from the beginning. This often resolves any future issue. It gives the client a way to keep their brand intact yet be able to use it for varying space requirements.

Sometimes, with panel-based logos and logos with elements heavily integrated, this is not possible. But if you have a more simplified logo, it’s usually pretty easy to arrange the elements to build both versions of the brand.

Here are a few examples of brands we’ve designed recently, and how we worked to build various formats according to the usage, while still maintaining the brand identity.

For horizontal use

For vertical use

Even though the scale of the icon in relation to the typography has been changed, the branding remains intact. In this instance we are really trying to reinforce this icon.

If we had simply blown up all the lettering on the horizontal version, it wouldn’t have been as effective a way of prioritizing the icon and typography—nor would it have been as interesting.

Here’s a modified use of the horizontal logo, designed to work within the constraints of the HHR’s available canvas. Even though this isn’t their exact logo as illustrated below, we keep the branding intact by using the primary element of the main logo. Note that for visual interest, we added the tagline in a creative way, and also had him sitting on some dirt. We used the same graphics in their two-sided business card, with the primary brand on one side, and the modified icon usage on the second side.


Here are their two-sided business cards, which integrate primary brand usage and the modified icon from the vehicle advertising.

For vertical use

For horizontal use

The format of a site sign doesn’t  lend itself to either the horizontal or vertical versions, so we modified the proportions for better distance legibility—while still not sacrificing the primary branding.

Vertical version used on business card

For horizontal use

The vertical format was used on their business card.

For horizontal use

For vertical use

For horizontal use

For vertical use

This article appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of SignCraft.

Dan Antonelli owns KickCharge Creative (formerly Graphic D-Signs, Inc.) in Washington, New Jersey. His latest book, Building a Big Small Business Brand, joins his Logo Design for Small Business I and II. He can be reached at dan@kickcharge. com. Dan also offers consulting and business coaching services to sign companies. For more information, visit On Instagram: @danantonelli_kickcharge.