The word “submark” is something designers and people in the design industry use to describe a smaller icon that pairs with your logo. So, for example your company is called “Bearly There: Bikini’s for Bears.” because you live in Alaska, and bears want to get their beach on too.

Your logo for Bearly There is the word Bearly There written out in these chubby scrolled letters, “Bikini’s for Bears” is small beneath it, and there’s an illustration of a bear in a bikini leaning on the B in “Bearly.” Can you picture it?? Haha, ok a little abstract, but rather than showing allll that logo, your submark, would be the bear in the bikini.

A straight forward example is McDonalds. The Golden Archs…”M,” that’s a prime example of a company that can use just their submark of the “M” and people know straight away what the company is. Bearly There, hopes to one day be like McDonalds, where people will see the bear in a bikini illustration and straight away think “Bearly There.” That’s one way to know when your companies really MADE IT. When people recognise a company by their submark.

When would I use a submark? 

Submarks are great for social media icons, email signatures, an element to use on your business card, and any where else you want people to think of your brand, but don’t have a lot of space to show the whole logo. FB for example gives you only a tiny box as your icon. Not a lot’s going to fit there, so you’re going to use the bear in a bikini by itself, rather than the bear in a bikini, with all the whole logo name.  

Do I always need a submark?

Nope, you can definitely function fine without one. Look at FORD for example (the car company). The name is short enough that an icon isn’t necessary. If your company name is short enough, or if it makes a nice “type lock up” (stacks well), then a submark isn’t always necessary.

How can my submark feel apart of my brand?

Easy ways to connect your submark to your brand are colour and/or font. If Bearly There‘s colours are brown and tan, and the bear illustration is brown with a tan bikini, people will make the connection. McDonald’s, in the earlier days, their logo was written out with the “M” paired with the name, in the iconic yellow and red, and over time they just pulled the “M” out from the rest of the name and bam! Submark 4 eva! But that works too. Your submark can be just the first letters in your company name written in the same font or in your brand colours. People will easily make the connection thanks to companies like McDonalds who have been doing it for decades.

Example of ways Hardcopy Cartel has created submarks for brands: