Wordmark Logo with shadow??

meJamie's picture

Why is it not feasible to use shadows in corporate wordmark logos? Please give me some solid arguments over this. This is for a very no-nonsense, not funky corporate company.

jwchen's picture

there is no law saying you can't use shadow on logo. It's just that the market was over saturated with bad logo with shadow. Especially back in the 90's when amateurs just add drop shadow over an image and call it a logo. So if you can pull it off without looking like crap go right ahead.

the wonderful Nick Shinn have written an article about it and you can find it in his website at
the article is called the bottom line

meJamie's picture

@jwchen Thanks. I dont think it works at all for this Logo. But since the client seems to feel it looks good, dont want it to come off as if it is only a matter of personal taste. The logo is such that I can invert it to white on a dark background and Black on light one. So does not really make sense to have a shadow.

Bendy's picture

My approach would be to ask what the shadow adds. In logo design especially, every element needs to convey something about the company and its values. Does a shadow really speak to the company's customers? Why does the client want a shadow?

All too often shadows are put in only to say 'look we can add text effects!', which is far too amateur and self-conscious for a corporate logo. Of course there are times when a shadow is relevant, but unless depth, light/shadow and/or 3-d are important parts of what a company does, I would suggest it's purposeless.

JamesM's picture

You don't see drop shadows all that often in professional corporate logos, but they are used occasionally. Google's logo is one example (although they tend towards a more freewheeling style anyway).

A shadow, like any graphic technique, can be either appropriate or inappropriate depending on the situation. It can be a reference to the client's business, and it can also be used just to make the logo pop off the background and give it a bit more zip.

One reason pros tend to stay away from shadows on logos is that they don't reproduce well in certain situations, like on a Xerox or fax, and if the logo is reversed out the shadow becomes white and looks weird. So even if your client insists on a shadow you'll probably want to prepare an alternate non-shadow version for situations like that.

Nick Shinn's picture

Your client may also be telling you that they think your design lacks pizzaz, and needs sexing up.
But that may well be their subjective insecurity speaking—they want the logo to be spectacularly awesome, immediately, all by itself.
We know logos don't work like that—they are part of an identity system that must be durable, and their effect in brand building is cumulative.
So make sure that you have done adequate presentations (with rationale and bullshit) showing the logo mocked up "in action" in various kinds of media, explaining this to them.
Also make sure that your presentations are slick, big, colorful and in person—turn on the salesmanship. It's a necessary evil.
You may not have to go quite this far…

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