Logos are powerful, and creating one can be a daunting task. Here are five easy steps to designing your brand’s visual identity.
The swoosh, the Golden Arches, a half-bitten fruit—the average consumer can name the companies these iconic logos represent without a split second of hesitation.
Done well, a logo is much more than the visual face of a brand. It can represent a “just do it” philosophy (like the Nike swoosh), elicit visceral feelings such as hunger (like the McDonald’s arches), and create a sense of unity among consumers (like Apple’s bitten apple).
Logos are powerful, and it’s important to get them right. Follow these five simple steps that will take you from brainstorming to final product, and you won’t go wrong.
Step 1: Understand Your Identity
A little bit of business reflection never hurt and is absolutely essential when creating your logo. Spend as much time as you need answering the following questions. It’ll make the rest of the job much easier.
What does your business do?
What are your company’s core values?
How would you describe your brand in 3 words?
What emotions do you want your business to evoke in people?
Why did you start your business? Where will it be in 5-10 years?
These questions will help you reflect on why you started your business, what your business stands for, and what the future holds. Most importantly, this will help you understand what makes your business unique.
Perhaps you own a coffee shop. You could use a coffee cup or a coffee bean for your logo, but why do that with infinite possibilities? Your cafe is located on the water and named after one of the main characters of Moby Dick; it only makes sense for a twin-tailed mermaid to be your logo. By the way, have you guessed what logo we’re describing yet?
Step 2: Get Inspired
Once you’ve understood your company’s mission and identity, it’s time to start concepting.
Make a list of your competitors, leaders in your industry, and any other companies that you admire. Go wild here; don’t just look at local brands.
Study their logos and logo history. Have they ever rebranded?
Separate these logos into two categories: logos you like, and logos you don’t. Try not to let brand associations cloud your judgment here.
Evaluate what makes your competitors’ logos successful or, conversely, unsuccessful.
Think about this step as “artistic research.” Like an artist, you need to reinterpret everything created before you to produce something new.
Step 3: Choose a Logo Type & Style
If you studied enough logos in step 2, you’ll notice that they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to know some logo terminology so that you can describe what you’re looking for later. Here are the main types of logos:
Wordmarks: A logo that focuses on the business’s name. Think Google, Visa, or Coca-Cola.
Lettermarks: Like wordmarks, but consisting of letters (usually the brand initials). Think NASA, LV, or HBO.
Pictorial logos: No words or letters here—just an iconic graphic that consumers associate with your brand. Examples include the Apple logo, Twitter’s bird, or Target’s bullseye.
Abstract logos: Like a pictorial logo, but of an abstract object. Some examples are Pepsi’s tri-color circle, Spotify’s green circle with waves, and Adidas’s signature three stripes.
Mascots: These logos create an emotional connection with your brand through an illustrated character. Think KFC (with Colonel Sanders), Michelin (with the Michelin Man), and Pixar (with Luxo Jr. the lamp).
Combination logos: Like salt and pepper or bread and butter, the text and graphic of a combination logo are inseparable. Think Burger King, Intel, or Doritos.
Once you’ve settled on a type of logo, it’s time to choose a style. Style should reflect your brand, your product, and steps 1 and 2 (your identity and inspirations). There are hundreds of possibilities, but here are your main options:
Vintage styles work best for businesses with a storied legacy or for businesses that work in a certain niche: think Bavarian pubs, barbershops, or a furniture business.
Even the simplest idea can be brought to life with a little extra dimension. Online businesses can especially benefit from 3D logos, which jump out on a laptop or smartphone screen. If you go for this style, consider adding bright text to your main visual for extra oomph.
Flat designs are achieved by omitting shadows, gradients, or textures, and emphasizing bright colors. They’re pleasing to the eye because of how easy they are to perceive.
Ready to be the next Google or Netflix? Wordmarks are great for businesses that already have a unique name. Since there’s no visual, nearly all the emphasis is on the text, so make sure you spend some time thinking about the font you’ll use.
A cousin of vintage, the heraldic style (sometimes called emblems, crests, or a coat of arms) carries a little more flair and legacy. Take a look at Harvard, Hogwarts, or Harley Davidson for inspiration. Businesses with this type of logo are historic and reliable.
Handwritten wordmarks and letter marks are a classic style. They can be great for companies named after their founders because they give the impression that the owner took the time to personally sign the product. And since no two people have the same handwriting, this is a great way to guarantee your logo’s uniqueness.
Watercolor logos often contain pastel shades that evoke feelings of joy, coziness, and calm. They work best for businesses whose products or services are aimed at children or families.
Step 4: Consider Color, Shape, and Font
We’re almost there! You have your logo type and style (or types and styles), but there are still some variables to consider, namely color, shape, and font.
Color: We often associate a brand with the color of its logo: Netflix is red, Facebook is blue, McDonald’s is yellow. Because colors can play an outsized role in your brand image, consider the associations of each color. Green evokes nature and earth (think Whole Foods), while yellow can be bright, joyful, and stimulate the appetite.
If you’re having trouble with color, create your logo in black and white first. When you’re ready, you can add color later.
Shape: We’re going back to elementary school geometry! Picking a shape boils down to your identity from step 1. How do you want your customers to see you?
Round shapes like circles and ovals are most popular among brands. They represent unity, integrity, and stability, which can instill a sense of trust in consumers.
Squares and rectangles are reliable and secure. American Express knew this while designing its logo.
Triangles are balanced and stable, like a pyramid. They often symbolize professionalism and efficiency. Check out the logos of Delta, Airbnb, and Google Drive for inspiration.
Font: If you’re going for a wordmark or lettermark, font is everything. Here are a few basic font types and how they’re perceived:
Serif fonts are traditional, stable, and established.
Sans serif fonts are progressive, open, and informal.
Handwritten (script) fonts are creative, elegant, and artistic (careful here: they can also be comedic, like comic sans).
Step 5: Designing Your Logo
So you’ve done your reflection, studied your competitors, and learned all the logo vocabulary. Congratulations! You’re on the finishing straight, and you have several options:
If you’re in no rush, you can put your creativity to the test by learning a graphic design program like Adobe Illustrator and designing a logo yourself.
If you have several thousand dollars on hand, you can hire a design agency to design a logo for you.
If you want something easy, simple, and affordable, you can hire a professional freelance designer to design your logo on Kwork.
Logo design services are among the most popular on Kwork. Buyers can choose from over 3,000 options starting from just $10. It’s as simple as choosing a freelancer and ordering in one click, like on Amazon.
For a logo that wows, tell the designer as much as possible about your business, brand, and product. You already did all the heavy lifting in steps 1-4; all you have to do now is share the type, style, and other attributes of your dream logo!
Reflect on the Result
Here it is, your logo is ready. But besides the basic question of whether you like it or not, answer these important questions as well:
Have all of your requirements been met?
Is it too similar to any other logo?
Does the logo reflect your brand’s values?
What emotions does the logo evoke?
Will it stand the test of time?
If you answer these questions and are satisfied with your answers, then your logo is ready. Don’t forget to save the vector files—they’ll be useful when you’re putting your logo on products, your site, or social media.