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How to Create a Logo: A Comprehensive Overview

There’s a reason logos are everywhere you look. Since the dawn of man, people have used symbols to get their point across. From hieroglyphs to crosses to pink ribbons, symbols have meaning beyond what you see. They stir your emotions and conjure up memories of past experiences.

Goods logos tell rich stories about brands and their values. If you’re planning to create a logo, you already know it has the power to make your brand recognizable. Trouble is, throwing together a few colorful words, lines, and shapes won’t cut it. Logos influence all your business materials, so they have to set you apart and stand the test of time. Before you build a brand, use these tips to create a business logo that gets your customers talking.

How to create a logo

Shortcuts never end well in logo design. To save time and money, a lot of people hire the cheapest designer or look for online templates without a game plan. Get some clipart and a killer font. Seems easy enough, right?

One thing you know for sure is good logos are hard to copy. Think about Coca-Cola’s signature font or NBC’s vibrant peacock. Logos should reveal what’s different about a brand, so the number one rule of design is to be unique.

You have several professional and do-it-yourself options to create a logo.

  1. Graphic design agencies: Agencies are most expensive, but experts at brand building. They have deep knowledge of color and balance, so you won’t have to worry about visual flaws.
  2. Freelance designers: Freelancers vary in quality, but many charge less than an agency. Vetting is key, and you should ask for references and examples before hiring someone.
  3. Design software: Plenty of free and paid software is available for logo creation, such as Adobe Photoshop. Since you’re in charge from start to finish, it’s helpful to read up on principles of design.
  4. Online logo makers: Logo makers can help beginners create a simple, attractive design. Templates can help you create clean shapes while still giving the finished design a custom feel.

Brainstorming a logo concept

Whether you want to hire someone or create a logo for free, you need a clear vision of your brand. A wacky, colorful emblem doesn’t work so well for a conservative business. And a slick, futuristic font doesn’t scream “masonry business.”

If do you choose a paid service, building your own concept also costs less than hiring a brand consultant. So, it pays to do as much prep work as possible if you have a smaller budget. Ask the right questions to brainstorm ideas.

  1. What company values or product benefits do you want to convey? Think of key words that come to mind when you envision your business. Modern? Rooted in tradition? Earthy? Conservative? Innovative? Fun? Simple? Customers should get a sense of what your company is about.
  2. What logo styles are common in your industry? Although you don’t want to copy competitors, it helps to know what works well in your industry. Unless you’re radically innovative, you don’t want to ignore important design conventions.
  3. What sets you apart from competitors? Consider why customers choose you over similar businesses. Do they prefer back-to-basics products or trendy ones? Simple or complex? Fun or serious?
  4. Where will you use logos? On products? Business cards? Brochures? Vehicles? Online platforms? Apps? Signs and billboards? Not all logos transfer well to every media. Even if you aren’t doing a lot of digital selling yet, think about the future. Many logos don’t read well as a tiny avatar on apps and websites.

Choosing symbols and typefaces

Words and symbols. So many choices. So many ways they can go wrong. Keep it simple, or you could create a company logo that’s cluttered and hard to reproduce well. Consider how your story and values translate to lettering.

The two main types of fonts are serif and sans serif. Serifs have decorative flourishes at the ends of letters, while sans serifs don’t. Think Cambria versus Arial. Serifs are useful for many conservative, traditional, or upscale businesses. Companies that want a clean, simple, modern look tend to choose sans serifs. For a fancier look, you might even like a calligraphy-style script.

Logo makers and free font websites offer a wide range of premade styles, so you can see how different shapes fit your business name. Beyond style, there’s size, line weight, capitalization, texture, and much more. Another option is to come up with a custom hand-drawn font, since it’s the ultimate way to make your logo unique.

Big companies love symbols because they offer national or global brand recognition. But they aren’t necessary for every small business. If you already have a mascot or interesting brand name, start there. Think about the Mozilla fox, the Starbucks siren. or the McDonald’s arches. These symbol are all specific to the brand, not the industry.

When using a common symbol, consider how to present it in a new way. Have you ever spotted the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo? That simple touch transformed a basic design into one of the most celebrated logos in the world. But in the long run, it’s better to ditch symbols than choose an overused one without making it special.

Picking the right logo colors

Strange as it seems, logo color should be the last choice you make for your design. That’s because a strong logo should also work in black and white or grayscale. Your logo might appear without color sometimes, and you still want it to have memorable impact. Think about how the famous Apple logo has appeared in rainbow colors, black, chrome, and more.

People have natural associations when they see certain colors. Imagine the warmth and excitement you get from reds and oranges. Picture the calmness of blues and the earthiness of greens and browns. How about the bright, cheeriness of yellow? The mystery and luxury of purple? And don’t forget neutrals.

Focus on how your core business attributes translate into a color story. Soft tans, peaches, and greens could be great for an eco-friendly pottery business. Bright yellow and blue might make a toy company logo pop, while purple and gold make sense for wine, jewelry, and watches.

Just make sure multiple colors work together. You should also think about brightness and saturation. You can have light pastels or deeper hues, pairing grades of the same color can highlight key parts of your logo.

Saving and reproducing your logo

Using the wrong file types for a specific media can undo all your hard work. When you try to shrink or enlarge the image, it suddenly becomes muddy or distorted. With that in mind, choose the right formats and color printing options to create a business logo.

The most common image types are vector and raster bitmap, or pixels. Vector images are lines and shapes based on dimensional formulas. Pixel images are a grid-like arrangement of colors. Vectors are easy to scale, while the resolution in a pixel image changes with size. Vector files, such as .ai and .eps, are perfect for printing your logo in different sizes on cards, documents, brochures,  and clothing. Pixel types, such as .gif, .png, and .jpg, are a safe bet for images with low resolution and few or no colors.

Be patient with your design

At the end of the day, you want to be proud of your logo. Don’t rush to finish a design, since you don’t want to end up back at the drawing board. Get a second opinion from people you trust. Others might spot flaws or suggest a great logo arrangement you overlooked.

You can even share a few options with loyal customers and get their feedback. Customers all have different reasons for their preferences. Listening to them could give you inspiration on how to put your brand values front and center.

> Ready to get started? Browse through some of our logo design templates to get some ideas for your new logo.

Amber Ooley
Amber Ooley
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