Do You Make This Mistake With Your Logo?

When Designing Promotional Products, Aspect Ratio can Make or Break You

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your logo’s aspect ratio. A lot of people don’t. But seemingly small changes in the aspect ratio – the proportion of your logo’s height to width – can really change the readability and overall look of your logo.

This can be problematic when using your logo on branding supplies, such as hats, pens, shirts, or mugs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone pick a product they like and then just squish, stretch, or twist their logo to fit that product.

The end result: A promotional item with an odd-looking, hard-to-read logo. In other words, a branding failure.

Before you even begin, you need to choose the right gift or giveaway, keeping the design of your logo in mind. In my Idea Café post “Promotional Marketing – It’s Time to Get Personal,” I delve into the power of promotional marketing and provide tips to choose the right item that customers will keep, remember, and use.

If you want to create effective promotional products, you have to do more than simply slap a logo onto a pen or a mug. And you really need to pay attention to aspect ratio.

Let’s take a closer look using the Branders logo.

Why Proportion Matters

Every logo has an ideal aspect ratio. Put simply, this is the exact proportion of height and width that makes your logo look best. The ideal aspect ratio depends on your logo.

Some logos are best printed taller than they are wide. Some look better wider than tall. A few look best when they are the same height and width.

This may sound like a subtle point, but the difference in appearance is dramatic. Have a look at the Branders® logo reproduced at different aspect ratios and you’ll see what I mean.

Style 1

Style 2

See the difference? These are the same logos. The only difference is the aspect ratio.

“Style 1” is the classic logo. The width is about 3.25x the height. “Style 2” has the exact same width as logo “Style 1,” but we’ve made the height equal to the width. In other words, “Style 1” is a rectangle. “Style 2” is a square.

Now look at what happens when we reverse the aspect ratio again:

Style 3

This is the same logo as “Style 1” and “Style 2.” And, again, all we’ve done is change the aspect ratio. And, as you can see, this one is almost impossible to read.

Maintaining Your Perfect Proportion

When you’re designing your next giveaway item, pay close attention to the ideal aspect ratio of your logo and how that logo will work with the product you’ve selected.

Pens, for example, work well for logos with a low aspect ratio (like “Style 1”). But a tall, aluminum sport bottle? Not a great choice – unless you turn the logo sideways and have it run up and down the bottle.

The bottom line? First, find the best look and aspect ratio for your logo, and stick with it. Then, be conscious of that aspect ratio when using your logo on promotional items.

About the author

Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of, the world’s largest online promotional items company. has put more logos on more items for more people than anyone else on the planet.


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