People love animals. Full stop. We love animals so much that we haven’t stopped domesticating them and revering them and making them the stars of our folk tales and mythology for millennia.
Animals are a popular choice for logos because of the deep connection we feel to them. An animal logo can cement your brand in your target audience’s heart, but keep in mind that there’s more to using an animal logo than sticking a cute puppy next to your brand’s name and calling it a day. Logos that work are logos that mean something, and even if you initially decide you want a certain species to symbolize your brand, you’ve gotta make it the star of your brand’s story to make it work.
There’s more to an animal logo than the animal itself. Every logo communicates its brand’s personality through its color palette, font, shape and any other style choices the designer makes. As you brainstorm your brand’s persona, think about the following to fine-tune your animal logo.
Animal logos: accurate, adorable or abstract?
Ok, so you’ve decided you want an animal logo. Now you have to choose your animal. Then, you’ve got to determine how your logo will look. Do you want a realistic-looking animal in your logo, an abstract depiction of an animal or a cartoon/anthropomorphic image? And within those categories, there’s subcategories—if you’re going realistic, do you resonate with a photograph or photorealistic drawing or a more simple, but accurate, line drawing? If you’re going cartoon-style, should it be something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney movie, or do you want something that feels more like it’d be at home in a newspaper strip?
As is often the case in design, there’s no hard right or wrong answer here—just right and wrong choices for your brand. It’s important to start with the basics: your target audience and your message. Jurassic Park and We’re Back are both Dinosaur movies, but they have very, very different depictions of the prehistoric beasts.
What traits do you wanna piggyback on?
When brands choose to represent themselves with animals, they often pick animals that are characterized, whether accurately or not, by the traits they want to showcase themselves. Evernote demonstrates that it can store a load of info, just like an elephant can keep decades of memories in its brain. Or the famous blue Twitter bird communicating that with Twitter, you tweet whatever comes to mind.
So think about your brand’s best traits that you want to communicate through your logo. Maybe you get stuff done fast. Use a cheetah or a falcon. Maybe you’re loyal to your values—a dog logo probably feels like an obvious choice. Get creative and have fun with it! A ferret might be the perfect choice for your forensic accounting practice because you ferret out all the hidden funds your clients need to find, or maybe a whale’s the way to go for your new record label because in the animal kingdom, whales are quite the accomplished vocalists.
Remember to consider the negative traits you could be communicating with your animal logo. A snake could be a cool choice for your tattoo studio, but it’s probably an awful logo choice for your landscaping business.
How to deal with animal logos for food businesses
An animal logo is a slam-dunk choice for a pet product, a livestock product, a brand related to wild animals in some way or even a hunting or fishing brand. Yes, these last two categories aren’t exactly great for the animals involved, but regardless of how you feel about them, they’re part of our relationship with animals.
Seeing an animal logo represent a brand that involves eating animals can be jarring. If you’re considering going that route, tread carefully. If you’re going for a pig logo to advertise your new BBQ joint, you might want a cartoon or abstract pig instead of a realistic one that reminds diners who’s on their plates. Or even choose an entirely different animal for your logo, like a wolf wearing a chef’s hat standing over a BBQ pit.
Abstract or stylized animal logos
When your brand is a pet product, using an animal logo is the obvious choice. Don’t make yours too obvious or it’ll get lost in the sea of animal logos flooding your industry. By using an abstract or stylized logo, you can stand out from the crowd. If you take an obvious route, be sure to give it a twist. Maybe your business is state-of-the-art modern, so use modern, abstract line art to communicate that.
Make your brand more fun than a barrel of monkeys
Why do we love watching animal videos? Because they’re fun. An animal logo can also show the world that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that your brand is lots of approachable, fun or cute. Pick a funny animal like a llama or a platypus or a monkey to really demonstrate that you’re not afraid to get silly.
Another way to evolve your brand’s sense of humor is to go with a cartoon animal instead of a photorealistic one. Any animal can be fun and funny when it’s got big eyes and exaggerated proportions.
Show the world which flock you’re part of
You can also use an animal logo to communicate your commitment to the environment or your connection to nature. The choices we make have very real consequences for the earth. By using an animal in your logo, you show that you’re not only aware of how your practices impact the environment, but that you’re committed to reducing their impact as much as possible to protect the animals that populate our Earth.
Similarly, an animal logo can communicate that you’re directly committed to improving animal lives, whether you’re a pet rescue, a sustainable farm, a conservation program or a vegan lifestyle brand. Think of those Sarah McLachlan commercials we can’t watch without crying—animal imagery is powerful.
Connect with the chicks and cubs
What do most kids movies have in common? Talking animals. What’s 2018’s must-see TV for the preschool set? Paw Patrol. There’s no denying it, kids love animals. Science doesn’t have an answer for why kids go ga-ga over animals. Perhaps it’s because we all love animals. We adore our furry and feathered creatures from the moment we can recognize them and for most of us, that love never fades. So, grab kids’ attention by making an animal your logo’s focal point.
Maybe we’re turning into a couple of parrots repeating ourselves here because yes, humanity as a whole loves animals, but you know who else loves animals? Parents. And to connect with kids you have to connect with their parents.
Your brand will soar with an animal logo
Animal logos are as unique as the millions of species that roam the Earth. No matter what your brand is or what story you’re telling, there’s a way for an animal logo to work for you. Don’t take that to mean an animal logo’s the best choice for you—it might not be if you’re in an industry inundated with animal imagery or if there’s a better choice for your logo, like a smiling robot or a geometric pattern.
Play around with ideas for your animal logo. Bat around a couple passes with your partners and see if anything feels particularly fetching for your brand. If you need help coming up with ideas, a logo design contest is a great way to have a whole lot of unique logo concepts delivered right to you.