There are many things to consider before designing a logo. Firstly, for your logo to ‘stand out in the crowd’ it must be supported by its brand. You need to be clear on your brand’s ‘position’ and ‘message’. For a logo to be well designed it must be: recognisable, refined, relatable, readable and relational. (You can read more about these thoughts on my previous posts, ‘Logo verses brand. Are they different?’, ‘5 things to consider when designing your logo’.)
To help you better understand the logo design process I will show you the very steps I take, as a designer, to create an effective logo. If you are creating a logo for yourself or someone else you might like to use this check list with action steps and bonus tips. It will help you avoid problems that may arise from lack of knowledge and foresight saving you time and money.
10 Steps to creating an effective logo
1. Research Resources
Use online resources to research logo designs. For example, choose 10 logos from www.dribbble.com or www.logomoose.com and from those 10 choose the ones you like, noting why you like them. Do the same for the ones you do not like, note why you do not like them. This will help you think methodically through the decision making process.
2. Create a mood board
A mood board is a type of collage that may consist of images, text and samples of objects. Use it to develop your design concepts and to share your ideas with others. Create your mood board using online resources and tools or offline with tactile materials. You can read more about this on my previous post ‘4 benefits to using Pinterest for mood boards’
BONUS TIP: I like to use Pinterest. You can bookmark, store and share images and videos online. It’s an easy way to collect and display inspiration for fonts, colours, illustrations, photos etc.
3. Start with a sketch
Capture your initial ideas with pen and paper. By doing this you prevent the tendency to work on finer details which should be created digitally on the computer.
4. Convert to digital
Having communicated your idea on paper scan your sketch and bring into a vector drawing program like Adobe Illustrator CC. From there you can bring your logo idea to life by converting it, refining it, and applying it to different layouts and formats for print and web.
5. Begin in black & white
By starting in black & white, it is easier to judge composition, balance, positive and negative space. The logo should work first as 100% black. Simplicity is the key. When the logo works well in black & white, colour will only enhance it. Take into consideration that it could be reduced significantly in size for newsprint or on a website favicon. Thin rules and small spaces will not reproduce well so you may need to create a reduced version of the logo.
6. Choose a colour scheme
Having refined the logo in black & white introduce some colour. As with black & white start by working in only one colour. Then if desired test various compatible colours. From these chosen colours create a colour palette that can be used independently over various applications like printed promotional material, website or product range. Keep in mind that the colours used should be in keeping with the personality of the logo. Colours can be selected using CMYK, RGB or Pantone© colour swatches.
BONUS TIP: If you want inspiration on colour themes check out Adobe Kuler colour wheel. This free online tool (also available as a mobile app) allows you to create and share colour themes.
7. Tackle the typography
As with colour, the font used in a logotype needs to be compatible with the logo icon or imagery. Start by eliminating inappropriate font styles. A bold chisel font would not be appropriate for a feminine jewellery range. As a cursive script would be inappropriate for a trucking company. Test the word in different fonts, sizes, positions, legibility as well as the placement alongside the logo icon. Whether the logotype works better to the right or the left or above.
BONUS TIP: If you are looking for inspiration myfonts.com is a great place to start. Seen a font you like but not sure what its called? Upload a screen shot from the pull down menu ‘What’s the font’ . The site will search for possible matches from its font collection. You can purchase and download fonts for print and web.
8. Take a birds eye view
Once you are happy with the look of the logo consider the different ways the logo will be used in different contexts. Will it be used on a letterhead, signage or on a web page header? Again, sketching possible layout options and design applications will help you identify, refine and eliminate problems later down the track.
BONUS TIP: For the worst case scenario, test your reduced logo on low quality newsprint or as an online favicon with the dimensions of 16×16 pixels. Thin rules and small spaces will not reproduce well so you may need to create a revised version of the logo.
9. Print and Check
When a designer creates a print-oriented logo from the computer a test print is often run. The client will look at a pdf then run off a colour print on their in-house inkjet or laser. The commercial printer producing the stationery will proof the colour, type and images and once approved, run the job. With each step the colour will vary so it is essential to achieve colour consistency. The logo should have the same appearance across the websites, business cards or billboards.
BONUS TIP: Don’t rely upon your colour monitor for colours. The screen uses millions of colours, brighter illumination than a nonilluminated printed business card. Printed logos are made up of fewer colours and applied to varying surfaces such as paper, wood or plastic cards.
10. Stick to your Style Guide
Before venturing too far with your printing it’s recommended you create a style guide which provides guidelines for the way your logo and brand identity must be presented. The benefit of a generating well designed, computer generated artwork is that you can control the cohesiveness of your logo with your brand identity. Adhering to your stye guide will ensure your offline and online presence is consistent.
BONUS TIP: A Branding Style Guide can be printed and kept in a ring binder for in-house use. It is also recommended you include a pdf of the Style Guide along with the digital logo files to anyone using your logo and brand identity specifying how fonts, colours, tag lines etc should be used.
Research, Collate and Capture – research resources, create a mood board, sketch your ideas on paper avoiding the finer details. Scan your ideas into a vector drawing program, begin in black & white and then proceed with colour themes, tackle the typography, take a birds eye view of your overall brand identity, print, check and stick to your style guide. You now know how to create an effective logo!
What struggles have you had designing or working with your logo? Do you encounter technical challenges? If so what are they?