Are you starting a new business or you got a commission from a new brand to design their new logo but you don’t know where nor how to start?
Designing a logo for a new brand nowadays in the marketing world is not that complicated as you may think. Here, I’ll give you some of the basics and a couple of tips on how to create a good logo.
From zero to success
When you begin your process by thinking: “I want it to have all the things I like, it’s gonna have this and that. Shiny colors so everyone can see it and I want it to look like the logo of my favorite sports team…”. Please stop for a moment and take a deep breath.
Remember that the logo is not just for you, but for your brand or business, it doesn’t matter how small or big it is. The logo must portray what you (as a company or brand) stand for, even the colors must represent that.
When you create a logo you must ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What does my brand stand for?
- What does my brand stand for?
- What does my brand stand for?
Once you have grounded your mind on which way the design can go or you have at least some of the elements you want to include in your logo, you can continue and start designing.
If you are a designer or you know one, that saves some time. Or if you are looking to find someone who can design your logo, the internet is a vast place… Or you can also try 99Designs. Remember, always try to express what you want clearly so the designer can visualize the same things as you.
Also, if you’re struggling with visuals, you can always create a board, either physically or digitally (Pinterest). Creating a board will help you (or the designer) to have a clearer idea of what you are going for. Don’t feel frustrated if you don’t make it on your first attempt, all the big brands had to go through the same process.
Keep your logo simple
Less, most of the time in logo creation, is more. The logo must be of your liking but (and it is a big but), do not over saturate the design when it can be as simple as the one from Nike, Target or LG.
Adding too much to your design can confuse the audience or make them compare it to another one that looks similar for the same mistake: Adding too much to it.
Now, depending on your needs (as a brand) or the message you want to communicate, that’s the number of elements your logo should have. Even if your business has a lot of things to offer (like a supermarket) it doesn’t mean that the logo needs to show them all.
As an example: Target’s logo is just that, a target. This logo wants to let you know that “you’re gonna find what you’re looking for right there”, “if you’re aiming for a place that has good offers and has what you need for your house or for yourself, shoot into the bull’s eye and go to Target.”
Target’s logo is simple and, ironically, to the point. This is what is known as a “logo symbol” which is just that. One symbol (sometimes the unity of some) represents the brand. Another example is Apple’s logo.
Consider that there are as many as 7 types of logos that you can create, some are simple ones and others are more complex, but as long as you know how to communicate what you want, this should be like writing your name.
- Monogram logos: Like H&M, NASA or CNN. This can be used when the name of your brand is too large since you’re mostly the initials of the whole name of the brand. Typography is very important here.
- Logotypes: Google, Coca-Cola. It is the name of the brand itself. Must be memorable and catchy and it must have a strong typography base, something that can be read easily.
- Logo symbols: Apple, Target, Twitter. A symbol that represents your brand and is easy for people to remember.
- Mascot: Wendy’s, Pringles, Quaker. This logo has a character that makes the customers remember the brand by looking at someone that reminds them of the brand. You always know it’s Pringles when you see their mascot or, haven’t you remembered oatmeal when looking at an Amish or Quaker?
- Emblem: Harley-Davidson, NFL. Usually, it’s a sum of symbols and or letters combined into a shield of some sort. This can usually give the brand a more prestigious look, like in the time of the knights.
- Combination mark: Burger King, Taco Bell, Doritos, Kodak. Combining some of these logos can result sometimes in one logo, mixing logo symbol with logotype, for example.
You want to be more specific and design your logo based on the meaning for each symbol, shape, and color? Go for it! Just be sure it can all come together as one piece and that it feels balanced.
In terms of shapes, when you break down a logo you’ll end up having one or some of these shapes:
- Straight lines: Squares, rectangles, triangles. This can show strength, stability, discipline, and balance, among other qualities.
- Curve lines: Circles, ellipses, ovals, spirals. This can be perceived as Eternity, mystery. Creativity, among others.
- Natural shapes: Like leaves, trees, water, rocks, coffee. This shows the organic, natural, eco-friendly, hand-made.
- Abstract shapes: Sometimes they might not represent something by themselves, but if you arrange them correctly it may create something (like the Pepsi logo). These kinds of logos rely more on the meaning of the colors used than shapes.
Although, always have in mind your target audience because one shape or color doesn’t always mean the same in a country as in another one. If there’s a universal meaning for something (which is rare) try to use that one.
Another thing to keep in mind while designing is typography. Hell for some, a piece of cake to others. If you’ve chosen not to use some kind of typography on your logo, good for you, skip this step if you want. If you’ve chosen the dark paths of typography, let’s continue.
You can use four types of base typographies and mix one or two as convenient playing with colors or keeping it back. Remember, don’t mix or add more if there’s no need for it or your logo can be quite visually heavy.
- Serif fonts: These kinds of fonts are the ones that have little feet in the end. The most common one is “Times New Roman”. This typography will make your brand look old-fashioned and classic. Most popular for brands that are looking to project a vintage look.
- Sans serif fonts: Like the one you’re reading. It looks simple yet clean and somehow modern.
- Script fonts: This typography reminds you of handwriting. Looks elegant and even though it can work the same way as a serif font, this font gives your brand a touch of individualism from that world of flat formalities.
- Display fonts: Big, funky and goes great with color. These fonts look like balloons sometimes or just bigger versions of the previous ones listed here. Very good choice to catch consumers’ eyes.
Flat black or colorful and cheerful logo?
The main question that pops up here is the same as before: Does this represent my brand?. That’s the question you always have to ask yourself in every step while designing a logo.
Colors must represent your brand as well as they should attract your target audience. I won’t write down all the meanings for each color but you should consider the psychology of colour when designing a logo.
The color or colors that you choose for your logo must balance the whole thing (as well as the symbols) attracting the attention of your targeted market. If you want the attention of a young teenage market, maybe you should use orange, red, or neon colors. If you want to appear more serious, maybe a black or gray is better for your brand.
Also, if you added a special meaning to the colors for your brand, keep in mind that (same as shape meanings) colors have a world of meanings and the same color means different things to different cultures.
- White: Pure, simple, clean. The disadvantage of white logos is that you always have to use a different color or an image as background.
- Pink: Innocence, sensitivity, femininity, girly yet modern.
- Red: Passionate, youthful, romantic, lust, strong.
- Orange: Energetic, playful, warm, friendly. Is usually combined with yellow when it’s about food.
- Yellow: Energy, joyful, happy, cheerful, enjoyable. Works fine when it’s about food. It can also reflect that something is affordable or accessible.
- Green: Natural, hopeful, versatile, eco-friendly.
- Blue: Wise, trusty, serious, secure, stable.
- Purple: Luxurious, expensive, creative, mysterious.
- Brown: Hand-made, warm. Used mainly by brands looking for a vintage touch or to clarify they’re selling brown-colored products such as coffee or chocolate.
- Black: Elegant, luxurious (specially when you add gold), modern, exclusive, reliable.
- Gray: Same as black but somehow more affordable, serious and classic.
Create your combinations by remembering some color theory. Use complementary colors (blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green) in the right amounts and, (if you choose a mixed color such as green, purple, or orange), select the amount of each color to create a new one (teal, aqua, lilac, wine).
Once you have chosen the color or colors for your logo, you need to also check the saturation. Something quite bright might annoy your audience and something too opaque will be forgotten quite easily.
As mentioned before, when working with someone else and he or she is the one creating your design, remember to have constant communication and to be as precise as possible.
Think in a good logo as something unique and memorable, who doesn’t recognize McDonald’s big yellow M?. Don’t fall into clichés, it’s good to be direct, but don’t take things literally. How many bakeries have a cake or bread in their logo? Straight to the point, but even there are exceptions.
Finally, have fun in the process. Play with it, know your audience and try to be as unique as possible. There aren’t bad ideas and if everything else fails, try to look at things from another angle. Let’s start designing, shall we?
Sources, reference and useful articles related
About the author
César Pio is a marketing analyst with the IIDM (International Institute of Digital Marketing).