How to design a logo
Consequently, you want to create a logo for your business or organization. Our first recommendation, if you have the funds, is to commission or employ a designer. Even though creating a logo may appear easy, any competent designer will tell you it’s not. Rarely is the design process
Furthermore, quality is a function of price, and we want you to have the best.
However, if you need to begin creating your brand’s visual identity and working with a designer isn’t an option for you, we can help. We requested information from three designers with a combined 25+ years of expertise about their logo-design process.
You may be surprised by what they said.
What is a logo?
This query undoubtedly brings to mind a well-known swoosh or an apple that has been bit into. After all, everyone is aware of what a logo is.
A logo is a symbol or pattern that identifies a business or organization, as well as its goods, services, people employed therein, etc.
A logo, in the most basic sense, identifies. It affects how people perceive and remember your business. It serves as the public face of your company as well.
Making a statement about your company through your logo is another option. Take Amazon’s as an illustration. The cheerful arrow conveys that the business offers everything from “A-Z” and also symbolizes how pleased clients are to do business with them.
A logo can, but need not, represent a deeper meaning, which is one caveat. In truth, the majority of businesses who are having trouble choosing a logo are just asking too much of it. Our three designers concurred that the majority of people place too much value on logos (nerdy design pun intended)..
So remember, a logo may play an important role, but it isn’t everything.
A logo isn’t:
Although they are frequently confused, your logo is not your brand. And your logo is not your brand. Your reputation is what people think of when they hear your name, what they say to others about you, and how you make them feel. This is the essence of your brand, which is intangible. Not from a logo, but through a thousand interactions with your customers, is your brand developed.
Your visual identity
A smart designer would advise new businesses or organizations that they require a brand identity rather than merely a logo. While important, logos do not constitute the full picture. They only make up a small part of a bigger visual system that also contains your colors, typography, photos, images, layout, and other elements
An indicator of success
Your company won’t succeed or fail because of your logo. The Enron emblem was attractive, but the company’s ethics weren’t. The billion-dollar business Two Men and a Truck got its name from a stick figure sketch the founders’ mother did on a napkin. The world’s ugliest logo can’t deter an honest company from succeeding, and neither can the best one..
Now that we’re clear on what a logo can and can’t do, let’s start the design process.
How to design a logo
Here are two things to keep in mind as we dive in:
01 Design is a lot of strategy.
Yes, you will eventually need to produce something visually appealing. However, the majority of the effort is strategic, particularly in the beginning. Be prepared to ponder and make decisions more often than you draw.
02 You’re not just designing a logo.
Remember that the logo is only part of a larger visual system, and its individual pieces all need to work together.
You should work in stages if you want to achieve something correctly. Although every designer has a unique process, the one we’re going to walk you through comprises five stages:
Each stage has an own objective, method, and output. We’ll discuss the significance of each phase, the set of steps you must do, and the end product you’re aiming for—which you’ll need for the following phase.
Phase One: Discover
The “question” phase is the discovery phase. In order to properly comprehend the firm or organization of their client, its values, business, brand attributes, etc., designers use this time to elicit as much context and history as possible. This is also a good moment to ask any early design questions regarding the desired feel and aesthetic, all potential uses, and any requirements or unique requests..
This will be more of a phase of self-discovery for you. Having a clear grasp of who your business or organization is, what you stand for, what you want to achieve, and how you plan to get there, is your aim. Keep in mind that you’re not merely creating a logo. Your brand identity is being developed.
Even though you might feel as though you already know the answers, I urge you to practice writing them down. There may be some things you haven’t thought about, in my opinion.
- Why do you want and/or need a new logo? What’s the catalyst for this design?
- What is the meaning/story behind your company name?
- Who are your target audiences?
- Who are your main competitors?
- What are your goals for this new logo? How will “success” be measured?
- Who are your 3-5 top brand “role models?” Whose look and feel do you admire?
- What do you want people to feel when they see your logo?
- What are the values you wish your brand to express?
- What are the unique characteristics of your brand’s personality?
- For example: Is your brand refined, curious, nostalgic, vibrant, etc.?
- This is a great resource to help you explore this more.
- For example: Is your brand refined, curious, nostalgic, vibrant, etc.?
- What will be the main use-cases of the logo/visual system? Social? Website? T-shirts?
- Context matters!
- Any special requests or must-haves included in the design? If a visual refresh, anything to maintain from the previous iteration?
Following your responses to these inquiries, you will compile your findings into a creative strategy that offers a broad picture of your company. Your goal for the design process, the brand’s tone, visual considerations, and an early vision for the design system and logo, including any themes that emerged during this stage, are possible included.
This strategy paper will serve as both a roadmap for the following stage and a metric by which to assess your progress. Consider how successfully your deliverables, at the conclusion of each phase, achieve the creative strategy’s vision. In order to maintain objectivity, refer back to this paper whenever personal preferences and opinions inevitably come up.
Phase Two: Explore
Although “exploration” sounds more exciting, this is your research phase. And it is, we assure you. As someone starting this design process alone and potentially for the first time, I find the discovery phase to be both the most enjoyable and helpful.
In essence, you’ll be shifting your attention outside of yourself to discover and investigate design elsewhere. Your two objectives are as follows: Get informed and motivated.
Search for fundamental design principles to get started. Learn about the basics of design, color, and typography.
Some color theory ideas, according to our designers, can be particularly beneficial for logo design. Different hues elicit various feelings and actions, which might help you elicit the desired emotional response from your audience. Really, it’s fascinating material.
For instance, the color blue evokes dependability, authority, and trust. The fact that blue is a common option for banks, credit cards, and software is not a coincidence. Green symbolizes tranquility, progress, and health. Businesses like Whole Foods and BP strategically communicate their level of concern for the environment through the use of green in their branding.
cover which color will elicit the feelings you want from your audience.
Start acquiring information once you have a handle on the fundamentals. Prioritize your closest competition before turning to the larger sector. Look at more than simply logos. Experience the full visual system by following brands on many platforms, such as their website, various social media platforms, etc. Make a note. What features—both positive and negative—stand out to you?
Next, take a look outside your sector. Discover what’s popular in the design world. For the most recent creative work from the most renowned designers in the world, check out websites like Dribbble, Behance, and Brand New. On Instagram, type in #logodesign or a similar hashtag. You may get useful design inspiration on the discover tab on the website 99designs.
Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, start gathering intel. Look first to your immediate competitors, then to your broader industry. Don’t just look at logos. Experience the entire visual system by observing brands across multiple channels, ie. website, different social media networks, etc. Take notes. What elements stand out to you, both good and bad?
To convey the style and feel you desire for your business identity, compile all the photos, illustrations, designs, color schemes, mood boards, and yes, logos, that you felt pulled to.
By cutting and pasting printed photos, you can make a real board if you’re feeling crafty. However, most designers stick to digital. Pinterest is the simplest tool for collecting, but you may copy and paste your photographs into a document if you need to share or study them quickly.
Make distinct mood boards for each of the design directions to which you are drawn. Make sure to briefly explain how each board’s aesthetic selections reflect the brand traits listed in your creative approach. In an ideal scenario, you would offer these boards to other team members or a decision-maker, and they would assist you in choosing one course of action..
Phase Three: Design
Finally! The objective is quite simple: Start creating some logo concepts using all the factors and inputs from the first two rounds.
There’s a lot to consider when approaching how to design a logo:
Before you start, make sure you have what you’ll need to design:
Pencil and paper
Making some rough sketches of your ideas is a wonderful start. Don’t make this too complicated. Iterative design is a method. Make crude sketches of the concepts you have in your head, even if you don’t think you can draw. You’ll be compelled to think creatively, which is the mindset you require.
Vector graphic design software
Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for manipulating vector graphics, although it’s expensive and not always user-friendly for beginners. Try exploring complimentary programs like Inkscape and Vectr that are comparable.
Why vector? All logos are vector images, which means that they are composed of mathematically defined lines rather than pixels like pixelated images are. Scaling and altering vectors is simpler.
If you choose the aforementioned path, you might want to consider downloading some extra fonts. The Google Fonts collection and Font Squirrel are two sources for free fonts. Additionally, websites like MyFonts and FontShop provide fonts for sale.
Free logo design tools
There are many internet solutions that will do the job if you are short on time, money, or design expertise. The majority of these websites have editable templates, which would be the quickest approach to make a professional-looking logo. Just be aware that doing so may result in the loss of originality.I
Despite the fact that the ensuing tools are free, you might need to pay for the final, scalable vector file in order to get it.
Top 5 online logo design tools:
Types of logos
Learn about the following seven types of logos before deciding whether to create your logo from scratch or use a template:
Some companies choose to prominently display the name of their business or group in the absence of a graphic symbol. The use of type is crucial in this situation. Whatever font style you choose, it must be readable.
Brand marks, also referred to as “pictorial marks,” are the visual element of a logo. These symbols typically have a well-known meaning and help your audience make a quick connection. An outdoor company might use mountains or a tooth to represent themselves, for instance.
You must initially combine a brand mark with the name of your business or organization. But over time, the sign by itself might be used to represent a well-known brand in a strong, distinctive way.
This kind of logo combines a wordmark and a symbol to get the more conventional logo “lock-up” that is well-known to everyone. Once you find a layout you like, experiment with where each element is placed. Additionally, you can allow for various combinations of the two in specific circumstances, which we’ll explore in the “Define” stage.
Abstract logo mark
Abstract logo marks are less recognized and typically more geometric, as their name suggests. They’re excellent if you want something wholly distinctive for your brand. Again, unless you’ve established enough brand recognition to let your symbol stand alone, we strongly advocate matching these symbols with your business or organization name.
If your name is lengthy or awkward, a letter mark, often known as a “monogram” logo, is fantastic. You have the option of shortening your name or using just your initials. A letter mark’s typography is equally as significant as a word mark’s. Fortunately, you can employ more inventive styling when there are fewer letters and less concern about legibility.
A mascot could be enjoyable depending on the personality of your brand. Furthermore, because their expressions and situations can vary, they are more adaptable than your typical sign. Just make sure your writing style matches the sentiment and message you wish to convey. Mascots are a poor choice if you’re trying to project a more somber atmosphere.
Text is contained inside symbols in emblem logos. Emblems, usually referred to as “crests,” have been used for a very long time and can convey prestige and tradition.
You might need to conduct some brainstorming if you decide you want a symbol in your logo, whether it be traditional or abstract. Our designers have provided some advice on how to build a symbol that is appropriate for your brand.
- Make connections. Consider your company or organization’s name, and write down as many related words you can think of. Using Sprout as an example, we’d write words like grow, garden, tree, forest, leaves, branches, greenhouse, etc. These words conjure up their own set of images that could all be viable choices for a brand mark.
- Think figuratively. This is where the questions in the “Discover” phase come into play. Referring back to our Amazon example, the smile represents how happy and satisfied Amazon shoppers are. Consider how you want your audience to feel, or what message you want to convey. Are there any symbols that come to mind?
- Go literal. Even though our designers advised against selecting the obvious option, you can still think about interpreting your marketing message literally. Just don’t be hesitant to experiment with it. Give it a distinctive twist. Consider fusing a literal sign with a more symbolic one.
- Get weird. At this stage, there are no rules. Think as far outside the box as you want. As the saying goes, that’s often where the magic happens. Don’t question if something makes sense. It could be the key that unlocks the winning idea.
- Generate, evaluate, repeat.Repeat this as many as necessary to reduce your options. Before they get to the good stuff, the majority of designers go through several stages. Iteration is the key to success. Don’t forget to ask a friend for assistance. Sometimes all you need are new eyes to see things clearly.
Keep in mind the significance of typography if you want to use a word mark or letter mark. Similar to how colors can be interpreted differently depending on the font used, so can fonts.
There are countless font types, but they all fall into one of three families (also called typefaces): serifs, sans serifs and script.
Smaller lines or strokes are added to the ends of the bigger strokes in a letter or symbol in a serif font. These fonts are timeless and might be a wise choice when you want to convey dependability, tradition, and class.
Sans serif fonts
These typefaces have letters without serifs at the ends of them. The outcome is a straight, clear line that appears sleek and contemporary. Because they are simpler to read, sans serif fonts are the ideal font family for digital. Sans serif fonts are the way to go if you’re striving for a minimalist style.
Script typefaces simulate handwriting in the cursive style to give the appearance of a signature. They frequently feel more genuine and unique.
Now that you are equipped with all the knowledge necessary to create a logo, remember to generate, assess, and repeat.
At least one logo design should be left for evaluation. At this point, it’s also typical to have two or three logos to pick from. We’ll go into more detail on how to analyze your designs in the following stage.
Phase Four: Refine
It’s time to focus if you had a wide range of possibilities at the end of the previous phase. Already made your decision? Great! So let’s test it out.
Evaluate your designs by asking yourself these questions:
What makes a great logo?
A great logo is:
Where will you use this logo?
You should take into account both your core use-cases, such as your website or social media accounts, and your secondary use-cases, such as printed marketing materials, recruiting and event banners, etc.
Think beyond considerations. To ensure that the image, words, and overall message communicate across all media, mock it up on several backdrops. Any brand mark should be successful at all sizes, but compact, digital applications are crucial.
Does the logo have legs?
The aesthetic evolves. Trends change over time. But as time passes, the worth of your logo will only increase. Think about whether you anticipate using your brand in 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years.
Don’t forget to take your full visual identity into account while evaluating the logo. There may need to be a separate exercise for this. Consider the numerous colors, typefaces, and styles that make up your logo design and consider how you might be able to use them in other places within your use-cases.
Make a single-color, black-and-white version of your logo and make sure it can be reversed on dark colors, said one of our designers rather emphatically. If not, you might be setting yourself up for future difficulty.
You should now have a final logo that you adore. Furthermore, it probably took you some time to perfect each component. You can make sure it stays that way with the aid of our final and fifth phase.
Phase Five: Define
Quality and consistency are crucial for preserving the integrity of your brand identity. It’s crucial to establish a set of rules and principles for how to approach your logo given the variety of locations it will reside and the range of persons who may need to use it.
And how not to.
To start, consider any guidelines you may have about your logo’s size, color, layout, treatment, positioning, orientation, etc.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Are there only certain color backgrounds your logo should be placed against?
- Can your logo be used on top of photography? If so, can you change the color to help it pop?
- If you have a combination logo mark, can the elements be separated in certain contexts?
Never be afraid to include certain “never” restrictions to forbid any alterations or distortions to your logo in order to keep its powerful impact. If not, all 10,000 of your customers will receive an email with a logo that is holiday-colored.
Frequently, this is referred to as a style manual. A style guide might be as basic or in-depth as necessary. The Design Systems team at Sprout just created a whole website just for our style guide. Its name is Seeds, and it contains all of our brand, writing, and aesthetic guidelines in addition to all of the templates and parts that our product designers require to create our app.
However, you don’t need to create a completely new website to house your brand guidelines. Just be sure that they are available to everyone and that your teams have received sufficient communication about them. The majority of designers produce a pdf and upload it to the internal resource library of their business or organization.
You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot,” after reading all of that. We comprehend your emotions. When we stated how much effort goes into creating a logo, we weren’t kidding. Weeks are normally needed for designers to complete each phase. Therefore, our final bit of advice is to take your time. Spend some time performing the exercises we described in each phase. Your amount of work will be reflected in your final design.
And keep in mind that, in the end, it’s your team members who create your brand, not your logo.