When it comes to the B2B space, sometimes, it can seem a little monotonous. There’s a lot of the same out there -- especially when it comes to branding. For some reason, many B2B brands have muted their creativity to fit into this “professional” or “straight and narrow” box. They think that, because their business is B2B, they need to fit a certain mold. While part of that statement might be true, for the most part, it’s the brands with unique voices that really stick in your mind and end up being the ones you remember.
In today’s post, we’re going to highlight a dozen B2B brands that've really nailed it with their logos and discuss exactly what they’re doing right. Before we get to that, though, let's explore what makes a great B2B logo in general.
This should go without saying, but you want a logo that can be used in a variety of applications. Here's another way to put it: You want to have a logo that not only looks great when it’s scaled up to an event banner size, but also when it’s shrunk down onto a business card. The same is true for web vs. print applications. In short, you want to make sure your logo looks great anywhere.
Your logo must also be legible. No matter what size it is, it's important that people can easily read it. One way to get around a logo that has a fair amount of text in it (for example, if the name of your company is really long or you’ve included your tagline) is to have a very clear “mark” associated with your logo that you can use in smaller versions.
Take New Breed, for example. We have two versions of our logo: one that's used in larger-scale promotions (the first one below) and one that we use as more of a mark (the second logo):
A point to note here, however, is that our text-based logo is still legible when it’s used on something small like a business card.
We touched on this before, but you want your brand to stick in the minds of your customers and prospects. While it can start with your brand name, most people inherently are more visual, so logos or brand marks tend to be what they associate with a brand (at least subconsciously).
Think about the Apple brand for a second: What sticks out in your mind? The apple with a bite taken out, right? That’s because the company has a memorable and unique logo that people can immediately associate with the business.
Just because you like purple doesn’t necessarily mean you should use it in your logo. When examining your logo, think about colors that a) relate to your industry, if possible, b) don’t compete with each other, and c) will have an impact on those seeing it.
Now that we’ve got the bare-bone basics of what makes a good logo, we thought we’d pull together several different B2B logos from four different industries and lay out what they’re doing right -- and why.
Cisco's logo is quite recognizable, and a big reason this is the case is the work the company put into it. Cisco's in the tech sector, so the bars above its name in its logo could represent a variety of different things. What comes to mind for me first, though, is radio/frequency.
As I’ve grown to learn more about the company, I’ve also realized that those lines represent a piece of who they are. Cisco is a Silicon Valley-based company, and it's chosen to represent where it comes from by designing its logo to look like the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an iconic landmark for the area and, thus, the logo shows everyone a glimpse into the history of the company with appealing imagery.
TechHive is a website dedicated to product reviews, news stories, and, essentially, all things tech. It has a lot of things going on (in a good way), which I think correlates nicely with the idea behind the word "hive."
With the logo, TechHive's chosen a few design aspects very wisely. The company's use of color is perfect. It contrasts the dark colors of the text with a bright, attention-grabbing pop of color with the mark to the left. The typeface it's chosen is simple: a sans-serif font that will scale nicely.
It also features the hive icon, which not only relates to the business name (it looks like a honeycomb, but also a honey stirrer, no?), but the company can also use that as a brandable mark in tons of different applications. Take its Twitter account, for example. It doesn't use the typeface anywhere, but that orange makes TechHive stand out and its logo memorable.
Greenhouse is an ATS (applicant tracking system) that makes organizational hiring easier and more cost-efficient. Basically, the business helps companies get better at hiring by enabling them to find the right talent, streamlining the entire interviewing process, and housing all data and information they need in one easy-to-use platform.
There are lots of things I like about the Greenhouse logo, but it’s the company’s name that makes it stand out the most to me. In an industry that mostly focuses on the words “job” or “resume,” the word “greenhouse” is different. Of course, this word has a multitude of meanings, but for this particular company, I think it's going for the idea of making your “house” (your company organization) a better, cleaner, and more efficient place to be. Its use of green is an obvious choice here, but I also think that it helps the company stand out against the other players in its industry.
Like TechHive, ATS has a dedicated mark that still represents who it is, but can be used with or without the text. This is great for different facets of marketing, including social media, and becomes a recognizable image of the brand (much like how Nike has the famous swoosh).
NextGen Healthcare provides software, consulting, and other services to healthcare professionals. It's a growing company that's embraced the concept of inbound marketing and really stands out as an innovative, forward-thinking business.
In an industry that tends to err on the side of conservative, NextGen doesn’t seem to be afraid to push the boundaries with its logo image. I think it offers a great balance of color, is clean, and also feels new and exciting. It feels “next gen,” which I’m sure is what they were going for.
In addition to the colors, I like that, while its logo is just made up of text, it feels like a mark at the same time. It's been able to create a brandable logo that doesn’t have any extra imagery or icons associated with it. Nicely done, NextGen team.
Like Cisco, AstraZeneca, a large pharmaceutical company, is also probably a household name, but perhaps not one whose branding you'd immediately recognize. You’re probably familiar with its TV commercials, but it’s companies like this that don’t always have an image or mark that you associate with them.
I really like a couple features in the AstraZeneca logo. First, I think it’s a great use of color. The two colors contrast one another nicely and help the logo feel balanced. Second, the yellow mark from the logo has a few different meanings to me. It feels kind of scientific in the sense that it could be some sort of abstract representation of a molecular compound. But if you look more closely, the mark is actually an “A” and a “Z,” tying back into the brand name. Like others above, the company can use this mark in multiple applications.
Piramal is an organization that owns several companies in the healthcare space. It's a global company based out of India that spans many different sectors and operates in over 100 different markets. As such, I expected the company to have a logo with wide appeal and simple branding.
What I really like about the Piramal logo is not only its simplicity, but also the fact that it brings a human element to an industry that traditionally doesn’t have that kind of personality. I don’t really think this is a mark that can stand on its own, but I do like the contrasting colors and more adventurous feel of this logo.
Uprise is the newly released practice management and EHR software platform built by VisionWeb. It's cloud-based and designed specifically for independent optometrists. The platform is very innovative and like nothing else on the market, with a user-friendly design and workflow efficiencies that help practice owners get things done more quickly.
What makes this logo stand out is the eye featured within the cloud -- a tricky little design inclusion that shows Uprise's attention to detail and that it has a defined target market that its platform is designed for: optometrists.
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage tech startups. It helps entrepreneurs work to reach their full potential and has a long list of interesting clients in numerous sectors.
What I love about Foundry Group’s logo is that it’s a little abstract. At first glance, you don’t really know what that orange circle is. As I look more closely, I still think that could be up for debate. Overall, though, it’s different. It pushes the boundaries of the traditionally conservative industry.
Golden Seeds, another investment firm, is an organization that backs women entrepreneurs. The firm is made up of 250+ angel investors and is one of the largest and most active angel organizations in the United States.
Golden Seeds' logo stuck out to me, not only because of the color, but how the icons it's used signify what the company stands for. When I see leaves like this, my mind turns to things like growth and new beginnings, which is precisely what Golden Seeds is doing for its entrepreneurs.
The logo also has a touch of femininity, which appeals to its audience but likely doesn't make male investors shy away. It’s clean, simple, and does a nice job capturing what the company is all about.
Zuora is a subscription billing software solution designed for enterprises to help manage recurring relationships. The company's main audience is large companies that leverage ongoing customer relationships to generate stable, recurring revenue. Clients of Zuora include big-name companies like IBM, HP, and Dell.
First and foremost, the Zuora name is unique. It’s not a play on words and really doesn’t mean anything in the industry -- it’s just a creative name that works. To go along with the fun name, the business has a youthful, energizing brand. It uses bold colors that feel bright and vibrant. What I’m especially drawn to in its logo, though, is the mark. The circle around the "Z" has movement to it and relates to the full circle nature of their business. It’s abstract, in a way, but definitely works.
Recast Energy converts cost-competitive biomass into green electricity and thermal energy for industrial customers. Personally, I think it's done a great job at capturing what it does in its logo. It feels “green” and gets across the industrial component of its business. I like that the shapes also form what looks like an “R.”
The color choice is also a good move on the company's part. It's chosen two tones of green, with the darker acting as the primary color and the lighter, more fun tone serving as the secondary color. Both complement each other and also signify the space that Recast operates in.
WindMade is a consumer label that companies can use to communicate their commitment to renewable energy. Basically, it's a logo that's placed on packaging to show that a product was made using wind energy. It’s innovative, empowering, and unique -- in short, I think it's perfect.
Of all the logos highlighted, this one is my favorite. WindMade has done a really great job representing its industry and relating it to another well-known mark. When you see this, it might not immediately come to mind, but as you learn more about what the company does, it makes sense: This logo is the organization's attempt at a wind version of the classic recycle symbol.
I also really like the movement this logo has. Wind energy makes me think of those big turbines on mountain ridges, turning around in circles. This logo captures that energy without being too direct. The colors and openness of the design feel airy and light -- just like wind. Hats off to WindMade's design team.
What other brand logos really stand out to you for their top-tier design?
Originally published Feb 4, 2014 6:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017