When using logos of known brands, we usually do not fully realize that they are intellectual property of their owners, which means they control when and how can their logo be displayed. This page will help you to get to the current guidelines and official resources for each brand.
About this page
Here, I have to point out that I can’t give you any legal advice, the following text only expresses my personal opinion based on my experience.
The aim of this page is not to be 100 % correct (which is, as you will learn below, virtually almost impossible to achieve), but it should help you to use these logos as rightly as possible.
Why it’s important to read brand guidelines
Again, first thing you have to keep in mind is that logos are intellectual property of their owners and they have the right to control how and when their logo will be displayed.
So, if you’d want to be 100 % correct, you’d have to (for most of the brands):
- have the permission to use the logo itself, mostly needed in writing, signed by the legal brand owner
- follow brands guidelines and use only unmodified versions of each logo, without any effects or changes in their visual appearance
- last but not least, pay attention to whether you use the logo in an appropriate context
It may seem too complicated, but that’s how things are. When you decide to ignore it, it may happen that brand owners can decide to sue you for violating their brand rights.
Just imagine, if you’d have a unique logo for your own product (maybe you already have it) and somebody start using it wrong - in a context you do not like and even recklessly alter its shape and look to fit his own requirements, it wouldn’t feel good, am I right?
Each brand has a number of custom rules, which you can’t ignore, but here we will try to cover those, that are common to most of them.
1. The permission to use the logo
- many brands (mostly social platforms), allow you to use their logo without their prior consent
- other brands will officially allow you to use their logo only after previous consultation and obtaining their consent
- some even prohibit the use of the logo elsewhere than on its own materials and products
In reality, there is probably a small chance that somebody will sue you straight away because you have used their logo in your personal blog, but this chance is growing, if your website is more prominent or if you even make money through it.
In any event, do not take this light-heartedly and please do pay even more attention to the following rules, which you can meet quite easily.
2. Changing the appearance of the logo
It’s actually pretty straightforward - you shouldn’t modify the appearance of any logo. In most cases, you explicitly should not:
- change its color
- change its proportions
- combine or blend it with other graphic elements together
- remove any parts of the logo
- animate the logo
- use older version of logo (when there is a newer available)
- alter logo in any way not defined in brand guidelines
- place another objects inside the minimal white space around logo
Of course, there is always the exception that proves the rule, but honestly, who can decide (except the brand owner) how many changes are ok? That’s why each logo is usually accompanied by set of basic rules on how to use it (brands or logo guidelines) and you should respect it.
What most people actually need is simply to put a few of these logos one next to the other, ideally in a same color, in similar size and maybe with colored background.
Well, to contradict a little, if you keep the original shape of the logo and use just the plain monochromatic version (with enough contrast with background), you should be ok. Most of the brands already have this black (or inverted) version of their logo pre-made and all you have to do is to use the logo with as few changes as possible.
3. Using logos in an appropriate place
The context is very important and often neglected. Again, many brands have already specified the list of places where their logo can be used or on the opposite, the list of forbidden places. Either way, you should always consider logos surroundings and respect what is already defined in brand guidelines. In particular, you should pay attention to:
- that you don’t mislead the user by creating the impression that you represent the brand in any way
- be sure that you‘re primarily using buttons created by brand owner and that you’re not creating your own graphic where it’s not allowed etc.
- some brands allows to use their logo only on certain medium, for example Facebook specifically requires prior consultation and their consent to the use of their logo on TV or film
- other brands can control when you may use their logo as a link, for example YouTube logo can be used as a link only when the destination URL is a YouTube channel
There are tons of other various limitations and each brand has its own specific features in this regard. At any rate, you should always double-check, if you don’t violate any brand-specific rules.
This is it?
To be honest, myself, I did some mistakes mentioned above, ironically with GLYPHICONS Social set (which was the predecessor of this page), that’s one of the reasons this page exists, to replace this set.
If you've read this far, you may be a little depressed. You do not have to be. If you are ever in doubt when using logos or icons of well-known brands, use common sense, read at least briefly each logo guidelines and if you don’t completely ignore the basic rules above, it should be ok.
If you look for more color specification for each logo, I can recommend brandcolors.net, where you can quickly search and even download colors of many global brands.