Ah, the logo. We put a lot of meaning into these little marks that represent our brands. Done right, they should last our businesses a long time. They should be recognisable and remind our audience about what we stand for. To support the message we want to share.
Designing a logo is obviously a very creative process. Like all creative processes, there’s no formula to how it’s done. But in this post, I’m going to outline a few logo design tips to help you develop strong ideas for your business.
Let’s get started.
Be clear on your brand
I’ve written before about how branding doesn’t start with your logo, so I won’t go too deep into all that here. But what you must remember is that you want your logo to suit the brand you want to build. That means, you’ve got to know what kind of brand you’re building first.
What’s the message of your brand? What are its values? It’s personality? While it’s not necessarily the job of your logo to explain what these things are, your logo does have to match the overall tone you’re setting for your audience.
Speaking of your audience, who are they? What are their expectations? You’ll want to be clear on that, so you can design a logo that suits their needs, too.
Make a list of brand attributes
To continue the previous point a little, I think the best way to have true clarity about the kind of brand you’re building is to put it in words. Actually write out the key words that describe your brand. Make a list of adjectives to describe the kind of brand you want to create, and also adjectives to describe the feelings you want to invoke in your clients.
Don’t go overboard with these brand attributes. It’s better to have a short list of 3 carefully chosen words, than to have 20 words that try to cover too much. Don’t water down the experience you’re trying to create. Pick a standpoint.
If you want some help with this, check out my free guide: The Branding Intro Workbook
Constantly be collecting inspiration
I’m always on the lookout for pieces of inspiration. I use Pinterest a lot for this — both to find inspiration and also categorise it for later reference. There are also websites that have done the work of specifically collecting amazing logo designs that you can check out e.g. Best Logo Designs, curated by DesignRush.
Remember also that inspiration doesn’t have to come in the form of only logos. It could also be images of lettering, poster designs, websites, photographs…
When working on a specific project, I curate images that suit the tone and personality of the brand I’m working on. By putting the images together, I can start to see patterns that exist, and get a sense of the overall aesthetic. That gives me a place to start when I begin to actually sketch out ideas. I can start seeing a picture of how the brand identity will come together, in my head.
Related post: How to create a moodboard for your new brand identity
Research different directions and concepts
Again, this is why understanding your brand is so crucial. It gives you something to base your ideas on as you develop them. You don’t want to be adding elements into your logo design just because you “like” them. You want there to be a rationale behind your choices.
There are lots of different ways to research possible directions for your logo design. I usually start with the name of the brand and where the idea for that came from. My tip is to look for topics related to your brand that you can learn more about. Then, take to your favourite search engine and start exploring! Look for connections. See what new ideas crop up.
Sketch on good ol’ pen and paper
When it comes to creating, we all have our preferred way of working, so I’m not going to say you have to start with sketches on actual paper. BUT I do think a good tip is to start creating your initial logo ideas using a loose, free-flowing method.
When you’re able to sketch quickly, without limitations, it’s easier to test different ideas without committing too much time. Save Illustrator for when you’ve got a more solidified idea in mind.
Brainstorm lots of ideas
Your first idea is going to be the most obvious idea. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also worth exploring a lot deeper and seeing where things lead. So, let yourself sketch out a bunch of ideas. Remember to refer back to moodboards you’ve created and research you’ve dug up.
We’re not looking for perfection here. Don’t worry if your lines aren’t straight, or your proportions are off. Refinement will come later. For now, you’re just trying to come up with as many possible directions as possible.
Consider the end use
Think about how you’re going to use your logo. In what context are people going to see and interact with this mark? What kinds of mediums does it need to exist in?
This logo design tip can help to set parameters for your design. For example, if you’re building a brand mostly on social media, you want a logo (or at least a version of your logo) that looks great as an avatar. Basically, something that fits in a circle and is recognisable even at a small size. On the other hand, if your logo will often be stitched onto garments or other items, you want to avoid gradients (which would be difficult to recreate). Gradients can be effective for digital mediums, however.
Considering the end use of your logo will help you ensure that your logo design will look great once it’s done and ready to be shown to the world.
Ask yourself, “What if…?”
Some of my strongest logo ideas came after getting feedback from clients. They might ask me to adapt the ideas I’ve presented to them, or to incorporate some new thought they’ve had after seeing my work. Sometimes, the feedback will force me to rethink new aspects of the logo design.
Although I try to be as objective as possible, as a designer I can’t help but get attached to my work sometimes. When a client’s critique forces me to approach the design in a different way, it can be tough — but can also lead to even stronger, better-resolved ideas.
Now, this is tricky to do when you’re acting as your own client. But try to push your design thinking further by asking yourself, “What if…?”. What if instead of X you used Y? What if you had to recreate the logo in a different configuration (like making it fit in a square shape, instead of being wide)? See what you can come up with when you test your skills.
I believe the key to good logo design is giving yourself the room to explore ideas, whilst maintaining some important limits to rein yourself in. And one final tip: let your designs sit for a moment. It’s easy to get sucked into the process and lose a sense of what’s really working. So take a break now and then and give your eyes a rest from staring at your work. Come back a day or so later with a fresh perspective and see what you think at that point.
Of course, if you’d like some help with the design of your logo, then that’s exactly the type of thing I do! You can check out some more details about working with me.
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