The logo plays a crucial part when it comes to branding both yourself and your business. With enough impact to either help or harm your business it is extremely important to give your logo some thought before you just start slapping it on all your products, branding material and of course websites.
While creating a logo can seem like a very daunting task there are some guidelines and tips you can follow in order to achieve the very best design your mind can conceive. Remember that first impressions should be the best impressions. Hopefully after you’re done with this article you will find yourself in a better place and more confident going into your logo design or if you already have one you might find yourself rethinking your design.
Before you even begin your logo design you need to research and understand what it is that you are doing. Your logo design should have a purpose. It should be able to answer questions but most importantly it should be able to answer the questions, why, what and who. In other words your logo should represent either yourself or your business/company. If it doesn’t or cannot do so effectively without having to be explained why the logo is why it is then the concept is a failure. When coming up with your logo’s concept it is best to make sure that the logo not only reflects the purpose or mindset of the company but also that it is logical and legible.
Knowing the business and the people who run it is a good place to turn to when you are thinking about a concept. Ask yourself what does the business do? Is there anything unique about their services or even the team members? Not only that but you should definitely take the target market and the name of the business itself into consideration. If you are designing a logo for a design firm named Octo Studios you will want to try to implement some form of octopus design into the logo. If the company is named Shattered Warehouse but is a film studio that specializes in creating horror films then you want to try to utilize that information. In essence your logo design should help tell a story and deliver a message.
After you have come up with your logo concept or at least have some idea on what it is that you want to accomplish then you need to start creating sketches. Very few designers can nail a logo in one go so it is necessary to actually draw something out. You will also want to draw something out so that you have a guideline for when you start inking and coloring your logo unless you are a freehand expert. Another benefit of sketching is that it gives you an idea of what the final product will look like. Not only that but sketching will allow you to see if there will be any problems with your logo design. There is a difference between what the mind visualizes than what the eye actually sees. This will help minimize the chances of having to restart from scratch. Having a sketch on hand when you notice a problem will allow you to try something else out, erase or add elements as opposed to sitting there on your computer scratching your head in confusion.
When you are working on your sketch you will want to create more than one sketch. In order to have more than one sketch you need to have several concepts. Doing this will help fuel your mind and most times when you have multiple sketches you will realize that some elements work better together or don’t work at all when switched out or mixed with each other. Creating variations gives you options and allows your creative side to shine through. It is usually during this stage that you come to try things out that you usually would not, so the step of sketching really is a must.
Coming up with a good concept is a hard thing to do especially when you are trying to think outside of the box but so is coming up with a great composition. Composing your logo design happens in the sketching stage and is further tightened and completed throughout the entire designing process. You must understand the basic elements of design in order to be an effective designer no matter what your expertise happens to be. Coming up with a good composition should be at the forefront while you are sketching out your various concepts. Just like with the design itself you can vary your composition. You really do not want to be stuck sitting at your desk trying to compose your concept particularly if you are on a deadline.
The composition of your logo can refer to several things but primarily the size and placement of all of the elements that make up the design. When you are deciding on your composition you should ask yourself “How is this helpful?”, “Does this composition work better than this other one?” and “Will this composition translate seamlessly on whatever it is placed on?” If you know where the logo is going already then it is a great idea to sketch out various templates for a website and branding material and see how the logo works when placed on to these templates. You can do this by hand or digitally. The same thing with size, generally a logo works better compact than it does long as the latter takes up more room. Either way you really need to make sure your composition is pretty solid before you continue on.
All logos should have some form of detail to it no matter how simple the design is itself. Remember your logo needs to be memorable and different. You don’t want people saying that they have “seen that before”. You don’t want your logo to be boring but you also don’t want it to be complicated and overcrowded. The detail should be enough to attract attention and keep it long enough for people to remember it. If you already have a logo but happen to notice it is lacking and not as effective as you want it then it could be due to its lack of detail. Now before you go and start adding all types of things to your logo make sure that the details have a purpose or you’re just ruining your design. The detail should be enough to keep your logo looking polished and thoughtful. Keep it subtle so that it does not clash with any other elements or designs near it.
Other than adding detail to your logo you can add some depth to it. 3D logos are just as popular as flat or almost flat logo designs. Adding a more three-dimensional look is a great way to make your design pop and have some personality. Your logo doesn’t need to be created in a 3D program either to achieve such a look. Using shadows can easily achieve such an effect. Your line weight can also help achieve depth and detail. It isn’t always necessary to add outlines to your logo though. This is a decision that should be considered during conception. If you do add an outline to your logo be wary of using heavy thick lines as it can leave your logo looking bulky and even cartoonish. When it comes to line weight you should definitely experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.
Though last on the list choosing the color of your logo is extremely important as it is one of the most effective tools in design. Wrong colors as you know can be damaging. They can distract the viewer and affect the overall look and feel of the logo whether intentional or not. If you know where your logo is going then make sure to pick colors that will not clash. Choosing complementary colors will keep the entire design looking balanced but in some cases using contrasting colors can be just as effective if not more. Gradients may be taken into consideration as it can add more personality and depth to your logo to keep it from looking flat or getting swallowed up in the background.
The concept of your logo should once again be brought to consideration because it can help to determine your color choices. In regards to the number of colors used in your logo it is best to stick to a color palette that has no more than three to five colors to prevent the design from looking messy. While you are coloring your logo you will also want to create a black and white version because all good logos can be effective with or without color. If you still find yourself stuck in picking the right colors for your logos and online color palette generators are not doing it for you then create the same logo with multiple color palettes so that you can compare them side-by-side and ask for opinions.
The simplest and shortest part of designing your logo is the part where you test it out. It’s exactly how it sounds. When you are finished designing you need to test your logo to see its effectiveness. It’s the same as when you design and launch a website. Look and record feedback and if it is negative or not receiving the reaction you want then it is back to the drawing board.
Other things to think about when designing your logo:
Simplicity: generally speaking a simple design is more well-received than a heavily complicated or abstract design.
Relation: make sure your logo design relates to your business, product or service.
Versatile: your logo is part of your brand so make sure that it can be used on various branding materials and media.
Memorable: above all else you want to make sure that your logo is memorable and can be easily recalled if necessary.
There is no simple method to create the perfect logo. A lot of dedication, conceptualizing, sketching and experimenting must be done before a final design can be settled on and even then it might not be the best choice. The steps listed above on how to bring your concept to reality is but a guideline to build upon and guide you in the right direction. All perceptions of what makes a great logo are opinions only so it is best to create and design a logo that suits and fits your needs and aesthetics.