Desk with color wheel, color table, art supplies, and ipad showing logo design process

The Ultimate Guide of How to Design a Brand Logo

Whether you’re creating a new brand or rebranding something old – LogoMaker is here to help. The logo design process may seem daunting at first, but this beginner’s guide can help simplify the process. Read on to learn how to do logo design tactics that help your brand stand out amongst competition, or how to design a logo that portrays your brand identity from first glance. Make your idea a reality with branding expertise and design tools from LogoMaker!

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Step One: Define the goal of your logo

A good logo can do more than make a business card look good. Great logos are game changers. Here’s how they do it:

In the world of logo design, you hear a lot of promises about what a logo will do for you and your business. Stuff like:

  • a logo will make you look more professional
  • a logo will help your customers remember you
  • a logo will help you stand out from the competition

All of that is true. A great logo will help you do all of these things.

But did you know that a logo may actually change the way your customers act and think?

“Wait,” you’re probably thinking, “Did you just say a logo can change a customer’s behavior?”

Yes, that is exactly what we are saying.

Or at least, that’s what a couple of researchers at Duke University found when they studied what affect a logo can have on consumers.

Here’s what they learned:

What science says about the power of logo design

In an experiment to test the subliminal effect a logo can have on a person, researchers showed students an Apple logo or an IBM logo. Apple is well known as a “creative” brand and their slogan at the time of the experiment was “Think Different”. IBM was better known at the time as a safe, traditional, and not very creative choice—they still are. Then students were asked to complete a standard creativity test.

The logos were shown so quickly (13 milliseconds) that the participants in the study didn’t consciously know which one they had seen.

What do you think happened?

The students who saw the Apple logo performed better on the creativity test. Significantly better.

Just seeing the Apple logo made people think more creatively.

And just to make sure that this wasn’t a fluke, the researchers did the experiment again, using the logos for Disney and the E! Network.

This time participants were shown the logos and were asked to take a standard test to measure honesty.

Any guesses what they found?

The consumers who saw the Disney logo were more honest on the test than those who saw the E! logo.

So what does this all mean for your logo design?

First, lets be clear. We’re not saying your logo will make people more creative or honest. These results are in part due to the ideas associated with the brands mentioned above and years of marketing effort.

But your logo can have subtle effects on your customers, especially once your logo has become familiar to them. They will begin to associate the experiences and feelings they have when doing business with you—and they’ll remember those feelings—when they see your logo.

You probably see this happen in your own life. Consider how you feel or what you think about when you see the Walmart logo. Is it different from what you think or feel when you see the Target logo? Or the Nordstrom logo?

Before you read the next section, think about what ideas, thoughts, and feelings could be associated with your business. Next you’ll learn about how you can make sure your customers will experience those feelings when they see your logo. It’s called positioning and you can learn about it here.

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Step Two: Consider how you want to position your brand

Positioning your product. Now think a bit about your product or service.

The concept of positioning comes from an article written by Jack Trout and Al Ries in 1969. They wrote about how products and companies can hold an important “position” in the minds of the people who use them.

Let’s look at some examples of what they meant:

Which car do you think of when you think safety? For most people (almost certainly those who remember the 80s and 90s), the answer is Volvo. Volvo has done a very good job of holding the position of safety in the market for automobiles. Many consumers believe if you want a safe car, you buy a Volvo.

Here’s another:

Which laundry detergent is best for protecting colors? If you said Cheer, you’re not alone. Tide (the leading brand in the US) is known for getting whites whiter. So Cheer took all of the other colors. It worked in all temperatures and thus protected your colors. They even called it “all-tempera-cheer” in one campaign. Cheer has worked hard to hold this position in the minds of laundry detergent buyers, who believe if you want to protect your colors, you have to use Cheer.

Last one:

Which shipping company do you choose if it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight? FedEx, of course. There are lots of shipping companies (and the postal service), but FedEx is the company known best for holding the “overnight delivery” position in our minds.

Here’s the most important thing about positioning: can you name another car company that owns the idea of safety? Or a laundry detergent that’s best for colors? Can you name a second shipping company that is known for overnight delivery?

Probably not.

And that’s critical. Because our brains have evolved to remember only the most important stuff. We don’t need five solutions for overnight delivery. Or for washing colors. So we remember just one.

Do you know how many shampoo brands there are? Hundreds. But chances are you only remember the names of a few of them (or even only one). Because those are the brands you need or use. There’s no point in remembering a brand you will never buy.

Choosing a unique position for your product helps customers remember it.

Checklist of Questions When Positioning Your Brand

  • What does it help your customer do? How does it benefit them? Who uses it and what do they like? Who buys it and why? What emotions are associated with your product—is it serious?
  • Is it whimsical? Does it bring relief? Does it need to be trustworthy or playful or adventurous or extreme?
  • How does your product or service compare to your competitor’s? How is it different or better?
  • Is there an idea that represents what it does? Is there an idea that you can “own” when referring to your product? Is it the safest? The oldest? The best technical solution? The most effective? The first of its kind? Does it have the most power? Is it the softest?
  • Find the idea that your product can “own” and use it to set your brand apart from the competition.
  • This is your product position.
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Laptop computer on desk showing three different types of logo examples

Step Three: Choose what type of logo you want

Three different kinds of logo designs

Your logo has two basic purposes. The first is to represent your product and associate it with the idea you want it to represent. The second is to help your customers recognize your product, which happens every time they see your logo.

Of course, there are millions of logos in the world. Just about all of them can be categorized into one of three groups: iconic, typographic or combination marks. Let’s take a quick look at the differences:

1. Iconic logos

Iconic logos (also called symbolic logos) are simply shapes or icons that are easily recognizable and represent a company or idea. An iconic logo either literally or abstractly represents your product, or the idea that your product represents.

Because an icon alone doesn’t include any words to add context, if a consumer isn’t familiar with the logo, they may not associate it with the product it represents. It fact, they may not even know it’s a logo!

Let’s look at some famous iconic logo examples:

Famous Iconic logo examples for nike, shell, and volkswagen brands

Let’s look at some famous iconic logo examples:

The Nike swoosh is among the most recognizable abstract iconic logos in the world. It represents a wing and speed, but it isn’t really either of those things. Today when we see the Nike swoosh, we think of shoes, athletic equipment, competition and athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

The Shell logo is another example of a great icon, this time it’s a literal representation of the company’s name. When you see the Shell symbol or a sign, you immediately know what kind of gas/service station you are at and the kind of service you can expect from the company.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the VolksWagon logo. It’s a symbol made up of the company’s initials. It doesn’t include the company name, but it quickly conveys the ideas associated with the company and name: irreverence, fun to drive, affordable engineering, etc, because you’ve seen it many times before.

All of these logos say something about the product or company they represent, but they do it with a symbol that doesn’t literally “say” anything.

Iconic logos are generally best used by organizations with well-known products and large marketing budgets, which can spend the money required to make these logos familiar with big ad campaigns and repeated exposure. For this reason we discourage most of our small business customers from using a logo that only consists of an icon.

Famous Iconic logo examples for nike, shell, and volkswagen brands

2. Typographic logos

Typographic logos are also known as logotypes or word marks. These logos are uniquely styled type or font treatments of the product or company name. Because there are thousands of fonts, there are literally thousands of options available when it comes to creating a typographic logo.

When it comes to typographic logos, choosing the font makes all the difference.

Let’s look at some famous typographic logo examples:

Disney logo as sample of typographic logo and Fedex logo as sample of typographic logo and Coca Cola logo as a sample of typographic logo

Let’s look at some famous typographic logo examples:

Disney’s word mark uses a font based on Walt Disney’s handwriting. It is whimsical, fun, and creative, which are the ideas the Disney brand represents to its customers.

FedEx is a great Example of a typographic logo that uses color to separate the two word parts (Federal Express, the company’s original name). Also note that the type creates a subtle arrow shape pointing forward in the negative space between the E and the X. It’s a nice visual bonus created by a great design.

Another great example of a word mark is the easily recognizable Coca-Cola logo. This is simply the company name in a unique script that has come to represent “the real thing” around the world.

Logotypes or word marks are often a good option for small businesses because they are made entirely of your product or company name, so customers don’t have to think very hard to remember it when they see it. With the right font, you can create a mark that is both recognizable and represents the ideas you brainstormed while thinking about your product’s position (if you’ve forgotten go back to the last section and review).

Disney logo as sample of typographic logo and Fedex logo as sample of typographic logo and Coca Cola logo as a sample of typographic logo

3. Combination logos

This is the most common type of logo we see. It combines a unique icon with a type treatment of the product or company name, hence the name combination mark. Combination logos have the advantages of both icon and word marks. They include a symbol that can represent the ideas your product represents. And they include your product name in an appropriate font so customers can easily remember who you are.

Again, let’s look at some examples:

McDonalds logo as a sample of combination logo and I Love New York logo as a sample of combination logo and Red Lobster logo as a sample of combination logo

Again, let’s look at some examples:

McDonald’s is a great example of a combination logo. Their mark is the easily recognized Gold Arches, but it also includes the name in the logo, either in red, or in white when printed against a color background, making the whole logo so easily recognizable you know it in an instant. Notice that the McDonald’s logo doesn’t include a hamburger, fries, or any of the other products that McDonald’s sells.

The I♥NY logo is another great example. By using the ♥ as a graphic stand-in for love, it forces your mind to “think” about the logo, making it more likeable and memorable. The simple type treatment makes the logo easy to apply to all kinds of things that New York has to offer.

Another great example of a combination mark is the Red Lobster logo. By combining the restaurant name with a graphic depiction of a lobster, you immediately recognize the sign (before you can even read the words) and know exactly where you are and what kind of food you can expect.

Combination marks are the most common logos used by small businesses because they offer the advantages of both symbols to help represent a business’s main idea, and the potential to create a great type treatment with the product name. This is the kind of design we generally recommend to our customers.

Incidentally, our free logo design software makes it easy to choose an icon (from a catalog of about 10,000) and match it with one of almost 50 fonts to create an awesome combination logo. But more about that in the next section.

McDonalds logo as a sample of combination logo and I Love New York logo as a sample of combination logo and Red Lobster logo as a sample of combination logo
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Man holding coffee cup and looking at laptop about to add company name

Step 4: Enter your company name

it’s time to add your company or product name. If you’re using the LogoMaker design tool, this is easy. Simply type the name into one (or both) of the text boxes and choose a font that matches the style of your icon.

Step 5: Pick an icon/shape

Step 2 of Logomaker displaying different icons, text, shape logo samples

Suppose you have decided to create a combination logo (we generally recommend this to small business owners). In that case, the first step is to consider the ideas you want to associate with your logo (from the section on Opens a new windowpositioning). Can the idea be represented literally, or would you be better served with an abstract icon that can represent more than one idea?

Once you know the answer, you have two options. You can work with a designer to create a logo that matches your vision. Or you can use design software like the app here at LogoMaker.com and choose a professionally designed icon available in the application.

Because this guide is designed for the do-it-yourselfer, we are going to describe the process of using the LogoMaker design tool. If you prefer to work directly with a designer but don’t know one, Check out our Opens a new windowWork with A Designer Services; we offer packages for every budget.

Opens a new windowClick here to start designing your logo by selecting your industry from our industries drop-down list and entering your company or product name. Click on the industry closest to your business idea, then select the logo types you would like to browse (Icon, badge, initial, text-only logos). Choose the types of fonts you would like to see (Sans Serif, Serif, Script, or Display) and browse through hundreds of logo design choices to find a design that works well with your business name.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, consider widening your search (you can use the search box at the top left to enter any keyword to refine your search). Remember, an abstract logo in your industry may work well as an accent for your company name. Choosing an attractive graphic that matches your company’s personality, service, product, or name is a core component of making a great logo. But that doesn’t mean you have to box yourself in with a literal representation of your name.

It may take a bit of practice and some creativity to figure out how an abstract icon can represent your brand. Try thinking in terms of feelings and ideas, like speed or progress. Maybe you can’t find the perfect image of a race car or cheetah, but something abstract like curved lines or a swoosh/woosh could create a sense of motion or speed for your design.

Step 2 of Logomaker displaying different icons, text, shape logo samples

Step 6: Changing colors, size and layout

Step 3 of Logomaker displaying logo editor which allows you to update text, colors, layout

With LogoMaker’s design software, it’s easy to make adjustments to the design of your logo. Click on the part of the logo you would like to edit; you can rotate, adjust the size or color of an icon or a line of text. You can also delete unwanted items.

You can increase or decrease the size of the text (your product or company name) depending on how you want to emphasize it. To change the size of an icon or the entire logo, select the elements and click/drag from the bottom right of the bounding box.

To change the size of text, select the line of text and then click one of the arrows to make the text bigger or smaller, or you can drag it from the corner of the text bounding box. If you want to rotate an object or line of text, choose the item and then click and drag the circular arrows to the top right of the bounding box. Naturally, whichever way you drag your mouse, the elements will rotate in that direction.

Once you’ve made your adjustments and have a logo you love, click save, and you’re done! You will need to create an account to safely store your logo design in our design storage cloud. Once you have created an account, you can use your logo for free on any promotional products you purchase from LogoMaker. You can also purchase your logo files for use with us or use with any other vendor.

NOTE: If you are working with a designer, they will tackle most of these tasks for you. They’ll create the icon, recommend fonts and colors, and present you with several options for your final decision, but you can expect to pay between $250-2000 for their expertise.

Step 3 of Logomaker displaying logo editor which allows you to update text, colors, layout

Step 7: Download logo file sizes for different needs

Download logo file sizes for different needs

Well, the sky is the limit. You can check out our Put Your Logo to Work page for lots of ideas on how you can use your logo to grow your business.

But how you use your logo really depends on the kind of business you are running. A restaurant owner will want to put her logo on everything from the menu and store signage to staff uniforms (t-shirts, golf shirts, or full outfits). A consultant may only need a logo on his business card and website. Think about where your customers should see your logo and make a list.

For a comprehensive breakdown of logo files please Opens a new windowvisit our FAQ

Let’s Start With The Basics - Business cards and letterheads

Most small business owners use business cards as a handout at conferences, to new customers and potential partners, and to drop in those “win a free lunch” bowls at your favorite eatery. There are two ways you can put your logo on a business card:

1. The super easy way:

Create your logo using LogoMakers easy online logo design tool. Then visit our Opens a new windowBusiness Card product page and choose the option best for you. You can upload a full design from your computer, or you can choose from 1000’s of industry-specific business card templates and enjoy a fully customizable experience!

2. The more manual way:

First, start by downloading the EPS file for your logo. This is a special file that is used by professional printers for everything from business cards to posters. You won’t be able to open this file without special design software, but your printer can open it. Some online printers prefer working with a JPG or PNG. If that’s the case, download those files (make sure you get the large) from your LogoMaker account as well.

Next, visit your printer, either online or off – you can use your files with any printer of your choice.

Choose a template from the printer’s collection, upload your logo, and add your contact information to the card. In most cases, you’ll receive your card order within seven days of approving the final artwork. If you choose to use a local printer, you may get your cards even faster.

Shirts, mugs, pens, notebooks, and a lot more

You can put your logo on just about anything. Need Opens a new windowpens and Opens a new windownotebooks for a company event? How about Opens a new windowhats for your employees? Opens a new windowDecals for your vehicles? Ever wanted to put your logo on a Opens a new windowcoffe mug or Opens a new windowTshirt? We not only offer several promotional product solutions, but we also provide you with the necessary logo files for you to take to any printer, sign maker, or custom product supplier.

Looking for a little more insight on how to use your logo on promotional products and stationery? Opens a new windowClick here for more information.

Putting your logo on a website

A strong online presence is critical for most small businesses. Creating a great looking website doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. And creating an awesome Facebook presence (and pages on other social media sites) where you can reach out to your customers is easier than ever. Here’s how:

Start by downloading one of the JPG or PNG files from your LogoMaker account. Choose the size you need based on the space you have to work with. We generally recommend the medium or small sizes for most online uses. If you need a website, Opens a new windowclick here to try an easy site builder tool where you can choose a template, change colors, easily add pages, update text and photos, and in most cases, be live in less than 30 minutes.

Some website builders have rigid requirements for file sizes. If you can provide us with the exact pixel dimensions, we can usually help you get a custom size image. For this service, email [email protected] with your request and we’ll try to create what you need (depending on the work involved, there may be a small fee).

Before you go, you may want to log into your LogoMaker account and download all of your logo files and keep them in a safe place. We’ll also keep them on file if you need to come back again, but it’s always a good idea to have all the files ready when you need them.

Promotional products and swag

You can put your logo on just about anything. Need Opens a new windowpens and Opens a new windownotebooks for a company event? How about Opens a new windowhats for your employees? Opens a new windowDecals for your vehicles? Ever wanted to put your logo on a Opens a new windowcoffe mug or Opens a new windowTshirt? We not only offer several promotional product solutions, but we also provide you with the necessary logo files for you to take to any printer, sign maker, or custom product supplier.

Looking for a little more insight on how to use your logo on promotional products and stationery? Opens a new windowClick here for more information.

Awesome products to start using your logo on

Example business card
Business Cards
Starting at $19.95
Example custom t-shirt
Custom Tee Shirts
Starting at $16.00
Example custom mug
Custom Coffee Mugs
Starting at $9.95
Promotional Pens
Custom Pens
Starting at $5.95
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Pro Tips: Avoid these mistakes

Before you finish the design of your logo, here’s a short list of things to leave out of your logo. Keeping away from these mistakes will help your logo look more professional and clean—and will help it be more memorable to your customers.

1. Leave out legal phrases like Inc., Corp., LLC and LLP.

Big company logos don’t include them, so why would you?

2. Taglines.

Taglines change, but if you do things right, your logo won’t. So just leave your tagline out of the logo design.

3. Addresses, phone numbers and website URLs.

Again, these things can change and they’re not part of your brand image. Include them in your advertising but not your logo design. They just make things look crowded and complicated.

Check out some of our resources that can help you