I would always recommend that you have any logo design work carried out by a professional, if you would like me to work on your project just hit the link below.
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However, for those of you who have absolutely no budget for professional logo design work I have created this guide to give you some help on how to design a logo.
OK, so lets break it down what makes a great logo? A great logo is made up of a combination of the following elements. If you get each individual element right and working in harmony with all the other elements then you will have a good foundation when designing a logo.
A key influence of your design will be how original and creative your company, product or brand name is. You want to make sure that you stand out from your competition.
For example names like “A1 Plumbers” or “Bobs Window Cleaning” are hardly inspirational. And if you are not inspired or excited about your brand, how impressed can you realistically expect your potential clients to be?
Practical Tip: When brainstorming ideas for your brand name it is often helpful to sit down with a big piece of paper and a marker and write words related to what you do or the product or service you offer.
When you have run out of words and ideas grab a dictionary and start looking up the meanings of some of the words. A lot of inspiration can be gained by truly knowing what some words actually mean.
You can do a similar exercise with a Thesaurus as this will give you alternative words to the ones you have written but with the same meaning. Sometimes you can find a more eloquent way of communicating by doing this.
If you are really pushed for time you could always try a Visual Dictionary. A Visual Dictionary will show you related words to your keyword automatically similar to what you would do on paper.
This one is free to use online simply type your word in the box at the top right of the page:
A key factor that is often overlooked by cheap logo design companies and inexperienced designers is research. Now this might sound boring and time-consuming but it is often the key difference between a great logo and an average one.
But what do you research? Well the first thing you should do is look at your main competitors you need to see how they position themselves in the marketplace.
Practical Tip: Do a search on Google and find all your competitors logos and then print them out or copy them into a document so you can refer back to them later.
When you have some first ideas for your own logo print them out or paste them into the same document and see how your designs look when surrounded by your competitors logos. Then ask yourself do your designs stand out? And do they look as professional?
When looking at the designs try to remain impartial and place yourself in your customers frame of mind. If you were looking for your product or service which company would catch your eye?
It is a good idea to ask others as well, ask friends or family to give you their honest opinion on how your designs stack up against the competition. Do not be afraid of other people’s advice or criticism even at this early stage it is better to get some feedback now and not after you have spent hours on the designs.
Choosing the right typeface to marry with your symbol (if you have one) is crucial. If you are going for a type only based design then it is, obviously, even more important.
Don’t just look through the fonts on your computer, unless you are in a design field you will likely just have standard fonts installed.
Practical Tip: Instead look through online catalogs of fonts there are hundreds to be found such as:
If you Google “Fonts” you will find many web pages with thousands of fonts to choose from. Keep in mind that some fonts are free and some you have to pay for, but be sure to always check the licensing restrictions (usually in a file when you download the font) before using a font, because it might only be free for personal use.
When choosing a font, try to stay away from anything too gimmicky, you can be creative and fun with your choice but remember the image you want to portray to your clients. You want to keep a level of professionalism in your design if you want people to take you seriously.
My last word on this is if you think that a font looks even the slightest bit tacky or unprofessional it probably is! So go with your gut and choose another. Just look at the example above to see just what a difference your choice of font could have on the professionalism of your logo.
Finally make sure that all the type in your logo will be legible when shrunk down to fit on a business card. Don’t over complicate things; try to be as direct as you can in your communication.
Colour is great! I love colour and am a big advocate of its use in all design. However you need to remember one important factor when using colour in your logo design and that is sometimes your logo will appear in black and white or grey-scale.
These times are often when a letter or an invoice is photocopied and when this happens if your design relies too heavily on the use of colour for its effect then this can often be lost. This is especially important if you will be taking out black and white adverts in a newspaper.
Practical Tip: To counter this you should always print off your designs in black and white periodically throughout the design process to check how they look. If they are hard to read or just look bad then you need to address that in your next design revision.
When selecting colours you also need to ask yourself “where will your logo most often sit?” Will it be mostly used on a white, black or coloured background?
Make sure that there will be good contrast between your logo and the colour background it will sit on most often. If it is going to have to regularly work on many different backgrounds you might want to consider working on multiple colour variations or sticking to a design that can easily work in just black or white.
Being aware of your target market or demographic is crucial when considering your logo design. Try and keep in mind, when you are designing and coming up with ideas, just who you are designing your logo for.
It isn’t about if you like your logo it is about if the people you are aiming to sell to like your logo (and brand). For example, it is no good designing a logo with a crazy font if you are marketing your product or service to retired people!
One it is hard to read and two as we get older and we feel more vulnerable and we look for companies that are trustworthy, solid and experienced (not whimsical!)
Practical Tip: Ask yourself who am I selling to? What age range? Males or Females or Both? And then look at other brands that are popular with that demographic and try to draw inspiration from those brands and incorporate what is so popular about them in your design.
For example if you find that Apple is a very popular with your demographic then look at the designs for their products, literature and website etc. If you did you would learn that they use a lot of white space, their designs are never cluttered. They use simple fonts and clean design so that their message is clear and concise.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLES
THE FEDEX LOGO
OK, So at first glance it is pretty standard right? But this design has hidden depths and has stood the test of time since 1994 (That is almost 20 years at the time of this article). It has also won 40 design awards and was ranked as one of the eight best logos in the last 35 years in Rolling Stone magazine.
So whats so great about it? Well this logo boasts a really simple but striking combination of colour and typography. But what really make sit stand out is something that many people never even notice consciously. Look closely at the negative space between the E and the x.
Yes that is an arrow! Subconsciously conveying the speed, direction and reliability of the FedEx courier service. And that simple stroke of genius has led this logo to become one of the leading examples when anyone talks about the use of negative space in design. That alone has increased the awareness of the brand massively.
THE AMAZON LOGO
This logo amendment is an example of really clever thinking. When Amazon switched from selling just books to pretty much everything under the sun. They required a logo re-design that would effectively communicate that expansion to their customers.
With one really simple yet genius amendment they achieved their goal. The logo gains a customer friendly smile and that yellow swoosh became an arrow. And just look where that arrow originates from and travels to. Communicating in one simple stroke that Amazon sells everything from A to Z!
Use the right software never (and I mean never!) design your logo in something like Microsoft Word or Paint. Use a professional design program such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Photoshop.
Why? Because you will need to supply print quality high-resolution files to your printer for business cards, letter heads and any other media. And you will not be able to export the correct file types with the correct colour settings without using professional design software.
If you have this software then great! If not then it is probably going to be cheaper to get a professional logo designer to design the logo for you than it is to buy the software! (We are back to the part about hiring the right person for the job in the first place. Another good reason, they come with expensive tools at the ready!).
A logo doesn’t always have to convey what your company does. Think of the Nike swoosh no trainers or sport equipment in that design. Whilst sometimes it is appropriate to incorporate your primary service or product in your logo. However if it over complicates the image or reduces the impact of your design then sometimes it is best avoided!
So what have we learned? Well a great logo has a clever and unique concept at its heart. This single element is probably the hardest part of coming up with a great logo. If you can crack this you are more than halfway there!
I really hope you have found this guide useful and that it helps you create a better design or at least gives you some inspiration!
If you are looking for further reading you might want to check out my guide to branding.
If after following this guide and trying the practical tips you are still struggling to think of a concept or to bring your concept to life then maybe it is time to consider contacting a professional logo designer after all we all have our areas of expertise!
If you would like to hire me to work on your logo design project then please do get in touch, I would love to help.
If you would like to hire me to work on your logo design project then please do get in touch by clicking the big green button below!