You’re about to launch a new business and it’s time to create a logo for it, but you don’t have the financial resource to hire a professional logo designer. What to do? DIY to the rescue!
You can get creative with your own ideas and try to make your own logo. Yes, you heard that; and you don’t need any design experience to do that.
Of course, we mean this without trying to undervalue the skills, experience, and efforts of actual professional graphic designers. In the long run, as your business grows up to a certain level, you will need to get a matching logo from a trained professional.
However, in the meantime, with limited resources and a dream to pursue, a DIY logo can fill the gap. A logo at its core is, after all, just a mark – an identifier and nothing much else.
Bear in mind, though, many logos in use are unprofessional and carry most of the tell-tale marks of an amateur or a beginner-level work.
To avoid this pitfall, there are certain practices and processes to effective logo design, and you must follow these to come up with something as close to professional as you can. That is the highlight of this article.
Before we go any further, it’s important that we understand the qualities of a good logo. What sort of logo would be considered “professional,” and why spend money and resources trying to get one?
Qualities of a good logo
A professionally designed and effective logo should be simple, memorable, relevant, timeless, and versatile.
Let’s examine each briefly.
If you think of some of the biggest brands in the world, you will notice that most of them have simple logos. Perfect examples out of many would be Nike and Apple; their logos are simple yet super sophisticated.
Some leading international companies have joined the simple logo trend to keep up with their vision and adapt to the new landscapes for logos. Some of the most recent examples include MasterCard, Burger King, Warner Brothers and KIA Motors.
Simple logos are easier to remember, which is something you want with your target audience. If someone was driving past a billboard with your ad on it, would they be able to pick out and memorize your logo in an instant?
A few practices to keep in mind?
Avoid frills and flashy when it comes to creating logos. While they may look beautiful, they age quickly and don’t help with memorability, either. Avoid the temptation to join logo trends, too. Yes, we just mentioned major companies going simple with their logos to fit the times, but this is for a good, functional reason.
Today, there are websites and social media, with their strict sizing and display requirements, so these companies have to ensure that their visual identities are visible to their online community.
Don’t use too many colors; one, two, or at most, three should be okay. Keep in mind also that a simple logo retains visibility and recognition when scaled down to a really small size and represented across different mediums; more on that in a later category.
Aside the functional benefits already mentioned, keeping your logo design simple makes it even easier for you to reproduce (as a non-professional) on a design software.
Basically, a logo is a graphic representation of a person, company or an organization. Its essence lies in the fact that a logo should hold the power to replace the name of the entity it represents, without any deliberate mention of it. This is why your logo should be unique.
Uniqueness plays a major role in a logo being memorable. When a logo is similar to an already existing one, it only makes it look like a cheap copy-and-paste job and therefore easy to forget. A distinctive logo design activates the brain’s visual memory cells and makes it easy to remember.
With millions of logos out there, the challenge is to find a way to make your logo stand out. When it does, then it becomes easier to achieve memorability.
There are various unique qualities that make a logo memorable. You can borrow ideas from the big brands. A few classic examples of widely popular logos are that of the Nike Swoosh, with its remarkable simplicity and elegance; the Twitter bird, with its unique shape and color;
Apple, with the bite (byte, if you prefer – great pun!) off – outstanding use of mnemonic device; FedEx, with its smart use of negative space; McDonald’s, with the epic golden arches; Coca-Cola, with the iconic custom script font; and the Batman, with the distinct shape we’re yet to see anything similar to.
So, use interesting shapes, colors, and typography. Try to incorporate the use of negative space or any mnemonics elements, if and where you can.
You can even try to turn your usual, unique hand-made signature into your custom logo – yes, it’s doable. This is especially common in the photography and entertainment niches.
Case in point: Walt Disney started with a signature logo (of the founder) which has been kept to date and has turned into an iconic visual representation of the brand, alongside their more recent logo.
For more information on this topic, check out our resource on how to make your logo memorable.
The foremost quality of great logos is their appropriateness to the markets their companies target. While it is true that a logo is more of an identification than communication tool, it should also capture a brand’s core personality and identity.
A great way to achieve this is by the use of colors in your design. Colors can trigger the right emotions and show your brand’s personality to your audience. A brand that sells to children may need to choose friendly bright colors that communicate energy, fun, and excitement.
A company that markets to adult men might choose to go with something strong and bold, like brown or black. A teenage girls’ audience might appreciate pink better. There are no rules to these, just general guidelines, so feel free to be different.
Another important thing to consider is the choice of font for the logo. Fonts are useful in communicating a brand’s tone and values, which helps in defining your personality better.
Fonts that are more angular and thin may work well for tech companies, while softer cursives are great for brands related to jewelry or female products.
Finally, you should also factor in the psychology of shapes in your logo design. The right choice of symbol for your brand is a key element of creating a visual anchor for your logo.
It’s an important aspect to consider when building connections between your brand and the ideas and values it represents. Pay attention to the shapes, lines and angles of your logo.
The best logos stand out from the crowd because they remain relevant and timeless over the years. It can be really tempting to add current design trends and fads when you make your logos, but this is not advisable.
While logos that follow trends may look good now, they will likely need to be redesigned sooner, just to keep them current. The goal, rather, should be to create a timeless logo that will remain relevant and connect with the audience irrespective of time, period, trends, or whatever.
McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have done well with their logos in this regard; the golden arches and the iconic word mark have remained unchanged for decades.
What can we learn from these examples? Focus on quality over quantity, removing many of the unnecessary elements and loud ideas, and paying attention only to what works. Sagi Haviv puts it better: “A great logo is not about what one likes or dislikes. It’s not about you. It’s about what works. And what we want to determine is: What problem is our client trying to solve?”
Focus mainly on your brand’s core ideas and values to find the most effective way to represent them without unnecessary muddle. Another important tip for making your logo timeless is to keep colors simple and basic.
Ignore gradients and multiple palettes; go for more selective and unique hues.
Logos survive because they can adapt to countless formats. A good logo can be used in different ways, shapes, and situations. If a logo is available in one size online, then it’s not a good logo, because it’s limited in the ways it can be used to expose your brand to the world.
By comparison, if your logo can be resized, printed, or placed on different media, then your brand will be significantly more visible to its audience.
On this note, scalability of a logo is very important. Even the best-looking logo will not necessarily be good if it becomes illegible or unrecognizable when scaled down for packaging or if it becomes distorted when placed on a billboard.
To make your logo versatile, think of the format you create and save it in. While traditional photo images may get pixelated when resized, vector files are designed to be scaled without loss of quality.
Keeping clutter to a minimum and choosing a simple design will make your logo more versatile. Avoid too many lines, flourishes, elements, and colors. Instead, understand that you will have limited real estate sometimes, and concentrate on saying more with less!
There you have it – characteristics of a good logo!
Seems like a lot to absorb? Well, then consider going by the generally agreed THREE: simple, memorable, and appropriate.
A good logo should be uncomplicated while still being distinctive for easy memorability. Keep it appropriate, which means that it feel relevant to the industry, market and audience, without trying to say a lot or be overly expressive.
Rule of thumb: Logos are identification, not communication.
Now that you know the right things to look out for in a good logo, let’s go through the steps to follow to help you stay organized.
Process – steps to creating a good logo
“Logo design process demands a combination of investigation, strategic thinking and design excellence,” says popular branding consultant and author Alina Wheeler.
While every logo designer has a different approach, most would generally agree that there are certain steps in the logo design process that all professionals share.
In this section, we will walk you through the proven, generally followed steps to creating a real logo, so that you can get inspired to make your work(flow) more efficient and effective.
*Note: Whether you’re using a logo maker or using a professional software for your own design, or going to be overseeing a design process together with someone else, the steps below should work for you.
Discovery – try to understand the business
Discovery is about getting to understand the business, its history, industry, competitors and audience. This is because logo design is not fine arts, and so we should not conjure logo out of thin air just by relying solely on our aesthetic perception.
Keep in mind that a logo serves a particular business function; therefore, you need to stay objective in the design process so that you can come up with something appropriate.
Typically, we don’t want to redesign our logo in the foreseeable future, so we naturally want to give ourselves the best possible shot at creating a logo that will endure.
Before you put ink to paper or open up your design software and start playing with shape, type and color, it’s important to first go through this branding exercise to help you extract all the necessary information about the project and create a framework for your creative exploration.
Remember: A logo is the centerpiece of all brand communication. It’s literally everywhere, so you should desire to create something that will represent well. Your ultimate success in the logo design process is anchored to this first step.
Research – learn about the industry & competitors
Research concerns itself with analyzing the industry in more detail, carrying out visual analysis and drawing conclusions. You will take all the information you have gathered from the discovery phase and conduct further evaluation to draw insights that will help you later on in the ideation phase.
This step is necessary to give you a sense of the environment the logo is going to live in.
Here, you need to know what can work, what is appropriate, and how to differentiate the brand from its competitors. This step is crucial as it will navigate your creativity later on, as well as help you avoid the common mistake of creating a logo similar to your competitor’s.
Brainstorming – expand ideas & set art direction
In this phase, based on the discovery and research carried out, you should now begin to outline your strategy for generating logo ideas. This exercise is about examining all possible design directions that would guide creativity in the right direction.
At this stage, you should be seeking out a look or style that could communicate the brand persona you’re looking to achieve. The brand personality, tone of voice, and keyword association exercises implemented in the previous exercises should help you in your search for a fitting visual representation for your logo.
Leverage websites like Behance, Dribble or Pinterest, as they can help you find some really inspiring visuals that would make for a great art direction.
Sketching – create logo concepts
If you’re using a logo maker tool or logo templates, this step may not apply to you, unless you want to have a general idea what you want your logo to look like.
The sketching stage is where your real creativity comes into play. Since you have done your homework already, it will be easier to judge your sketches against clearly defined standards.
The goal of sketching is to establish a relationship between an idea and the creation of a form. Some designers use pen and paper first, while others prefer to jump straight onto the computer, but the more common practice among professionals is to use a sketchbook and pen.
The reason is that drawing by hand first gives you an instant preview of artistic expression and is easier to do, anyway, so you should probably start this way.
It’s important to decide if you need a symbol or simply a memorable typographic logo (a.k.a wordmark) for the logo.
Now, sketching logos can be time-consuming, so it’s okay to take breaks and refresh your head and mind for new and/or improved ideas. You may have probably noticed that the best ideas usually come to us at times when we least expected them.
One more thing: When you sketch logos in your paper pads, try to do it fast and loosely. Nothing too fancy and don’t get stuck on a single idea. Explore different options.
Okay, by now you probably have a ton of great logos – well done! Time to test a few strong ones digitally on computer.
Design – choose best logos & render digitally
Again, this may not apply to you if you’re using a logo maker software, which are known to generate automated logo design responses from artificial intelligence. But even then, though, these software still offer some ability to decide the look and feel of your desired logo.
On the other hand, if you are going the custom route, design software such as Illustrator, PhotoShop, Affinity, or anything similar can help you execute your sketch digitally.
It’s entirely up to you.
In any case, test the viability of each design idea. At this point you should have a clear-cut criteria for what could and what could not work for your project. Take the time, don’t rush. Twist and tweak for different variations of colors, fonts, spacing, alignment and so on, until you come to a conclusion that you love.
And there you have it – your interesting new logo!
Since you’re not a professional logo designer, we are assuming this is your personal project and not someone else’s. If this is the case, then it’s fair to stop here. However, if you’re doing this work for someone else, you might need to take things further.
In that case, send the logo to them in a presentation spread for review. If approved, congratulations! Now, save the logo in various file formats, color variations, and lockup permutations, for versatility of application.
Software use – what’s your preferred tool?
Conventional graphics design software like Illustrator, PhotoShop, Affinity and the like have quite a steep learning curve and may not be ideal for you, if you plan to have your logo designed sooner. Again, we are assuming that you don’t have knowledge of these tools.
Creative Fabrica can save the day.
If you find yourself short on logo ideas, browse through a rich library of logo templates to kickstart your creativity. Creative Fabrica is loaded with thousands of professionally designed logos, along with free images, icons, and design assets you can instantly add to make your original logo design more lively.
Ready to create your own logo now or discover more? Choose between hundreds of logo templates.
Summary – tips to keep in mind
The basic rule of thumb when it comes to creating a logo is to keep it simple. If you can convert it to monochrome (black and white, without gray tones) and it still looks good, you will have created a potentially good logo.
Also, try to make it memorable, relevant, timeless and versatile. If you manage to capture all these qualities in one logo piece, you are golden.
Your workflow is likely to determine the type of logo you come up with.
While anyone can follow any system that best serves their individual needs, professional designers generally agree that to stay organized throughout the logo design process, it’s important that you start with discovery, then progress to research, brainstorming, sketching, and design.
Next, present your work for approval, then deliver final copies in appropriate file formats. With these great tips in mind and a helpful friend like the Creative Fabrica, as well as your own genius, you can make your logo designs.