Before we begin, I cannot stress enough how important it is when designing your logo to know your brand personality and make sure your colors are aligned with your definitive brand image. Because there are so many different ways to approach logo design, it’s important that you’ve established those parameters first.
Additionally, remember that you are not your target audience. At least, you probably aren’t. Of course, it’s important for you to like your logo, just remember that it should be reflective of your actual target audience rather than you and your personal preferences. Here are our top tips on how to design a logo.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s design a logo!
Or rather, let’s start thinking about how to design a logo. I know, you’re ready to jump in. But there is a lot to consider when you step up to the drawing board. Like…
Do you want your logo to be a literal rendering of your business type or name? Or does your brand personality require something more abstract? Do you want something that feels sleek and minimalist, or quirky and organic?
Coming up with an initial concept is tough because your brand logo can be reflective of your business itself, but it doesn’t have to be. There are countless ways to approach the design process, but the best designs always take many rounds of refinement and critiquing. Like I said, a lot to consider.
Design & Refine
The best way to figure out what works for your brand is to take pen to paper and brain dump. Try a variety of styles and options, and get feedback from others who are familiar with your brand. To get you started, I’ve broken down some of the most common types of logos below.
- Provides A Visual Cue: Many big-name brands are universally recognizable because they rely on visual cues to convey their business type or their name. The benefit of having a logo that is reflective of your business type is that it can be widely understood without a language barrier. Think Harris Teeter (has fish, bread, and produce indicating that it’s a place to buy food) and Burger King (which looks like a hamburger).
- Literal Interpretation: Having a logo that is a literal interpretation of your name can have similar benefits. Think Apple, Target, Shell.
- Abstract: Having an abstract logo has its own benefits, in that it will (ideally) be original and distinguishable from other businesses. Think Nike, Pepsi, Microsoft.
- Wordmark: There are also times when your brand logo may just be the name itself, rendered in a unique typeface or your brand’s signature font. This is called a wordmark logo. The most important aspect of this approach is that the font is easy to read. Most scripts and cursive fonts, while lovely, aren’t the most legible. Stick to clean lines for a bold, readable logo. Think Dior, Visa, H&M.
In addition to these different approaches, there are stylistic choices to be made. Do you want something that is modern or retro? Hand-illustrated or three-dimensional? Serious or friendly? When approaching these questions, always refer back to your brand’s identity and tone. As iterated above, it’s not about your personal preferences, but what will most effectively communicate your brand’s personality.
Something To Consider
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of delicate, detailed, hand-drawn illustrations as logos. Unfortunately, oftentimes when detailed logos are shrunk very small the details become lost and the resulting image is virtually indistinguishable. There are certainly ways to utilize this style if it fits with your brand, just be sure that no matter the size, you can clearly make out what it is.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few concepts, you can combine and refine them into a singular image. During this process, there are two things you absolutely must keep in mind: 1. Will it look good in black and white? 2. Is it scalable?
Real talk: There will be times when you need to print something with your logo on it, and it will be under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Maybe it’s at a conference halfway across the country, and the hotel business center doesn’t have a color printer.
Maybe you sponsored an event, but couldn’t afford the VIP package, so your logo is a half-inch x a half-inch on the back of a very crowded program.
Or maybe you are hosting a press conference and want to stage a massive photo-op area with your logo splashed across the backdrop.
The only way you will be set up to succeed in each of these scenarios is if you’ve ensured that your logo is scalable and can work in both full color as well as black and white printing. Today, there are a thousand different places where your logo can be applied, and you want to make sure that no matter where it is, it is clear and easy to see.
.jpegs, .pngs, and .eps, Oh My!
Ideally, the logo itself should be perceptible whether it’s in the profile photo of your Instagram (110x100px), or on a billboard in Times Square (hundreds of feet long, and composed of tens of millions of pixels). This can be achieved through a clean visual and ensuring that you always have the correct files on hand.
As a designer, there have been many times when I have needed a high-quality version of a company’s logo, only to receive a jpeg that’s no larger than a few hundred pixels. You might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? Why won’t that file work?” To get to the root of the issue, we need to discuss the difference between pixels and vectors.
Jpegs and pngs are made up of pixels, which are small colored squares on a screen. Although a pixel is incredibly small, when a jpeg or png file is scaled very large, it becomes visibly distorted and boxy – or pixelated. A vector, however, is a graphic that is created by mathematically mapping out the points of a shape as they sit in relation to one another. Mapping out vector points is incredibly complex, but with design software like Adobe Illustrator, the computer gets to crunch the numbers, and we get an infinitely scalable vector graphic. Having a vectorized version of your logo (saved as .ai and .eps files) ensures that no matter the size of your project, it won’t be pixelated.
Whether you’re creating your own logo or working with a graphic designer, you should always have a file of a vectorized version of your logo, as well as both full color and black+white versions at the end of the project. Be sure to save these files somewhere easily accessible, so you don’t run the risk of losing them. There are great clouds to save your design files in like Google Drive, Dropbox, and more, many of which have limited storage for free.
Now that you know the basics of the design process, and the correct way to store your files, you’re ready to head to the drawing board and start creating your logo! Whether you have the skillset to create the final version of your logo, or you plan to work with a designer to build out the final rendering, we hope this guide to logo development has helped you hit the ground running.