Logo Design Guide: 7 Tips Moving into 2019

A logo communicates a brand’s personality and identity in a visual format.

Often, first impressions about businesses and products are based upon logo artwork alone.

For that reason, it’s crucial that you get your design right first time.

Expert logo design requires a mixture of creative design skills, sound knowledge of theory and scrupulous application.

True mastery of can take years of time and patience.

So how can you make your brand stand out amongst a sea of skilfully designed logos? Read on to find out.

Part 1: Laying Down the Foundations

It can be tempting to open up Photoshop and begin drafting logo designs immediately, but hold fire.

Not only is patience a virtue, but conducting some all-important groundwork before putting pen to paper will make easier the creative endeavour that you are about to undertake.

Here are a few things you should figure out before making a start:

Know Your Brand

The purpose of your logo is to communicate your brand’s identity and intention.

If you fully understand the core personality behind your company, designing a logo is going to be far easier.

Figuring out the motivation behind your brand isn’t difficult, but it helps to ask yourself some key questions when doing so:

  • How did the brand come to be?
  • Why was it created in the first place?
  • What is its target audience?
  • How is it unique?
  • What are the core values and ideas behind it?

Get Inspired

You know your brand inside and out, now it’s time to find some inspiration.

Brainstorm

A spark way to generate quality ideas and sparking inspiration is brainstorming. Here are some tips for doing it effectively:

  1. Gather up your team of designers and directors; several minds are better than one.
  2. Don’t rule anything out. Even ideas that seem terrible at first can serve to generate important links to other great ones.
  3. Think like your audience would. What would be important to them? What would they relate to?

Start a Mood Board

If you’re a visual person, creating a mood board can be a great way to generate ideas fast.

Simply open up Pinterest or a Microsoft Word document and start adding pictures of brand logos that you like the look of.

Once you have an adequate amount of images saved, take a look through each one to help you generate new ideas for your own logo.

You can replicate features you like or color schemes that catch your eye, but be sure to keep it original.

Research Your Audience

Whether you’re designing a logo for another brand or creating artwork for your own, knowing and understanding your audience is vital.

Even if you have a clearly defined idea of the demographic you’re marketing towards, it can still help to conduct extra research in preparation for your project.

Your objective is to create a communicating position between a brand and its target audience.

The only way to do this successfully is to find out exactly what appeals to your audience.

Take a look at company analytics, sales profiles and demographics to pinpoint the types of people that are actively investing in your brand.

Design your logo with these people in mind, tailoring your artwork to their preferences.

Part 2: 7 Tips for Designing Your Killer Logo

You’ve done your homework. Let’s make a start.

1. Choose an Appropriate Logo Type

99Designs sets out 7 different logo frameworks that expert designers choose to follow.

Lettermarks

Companies like CNN and ESPN utilize individual lettering to create bold, to-the-point logo artwork.

Such designs are ideal for brands with long, multi-part names that couldn’t feature their full titles in logo form without taking up too much room.

For that reason, lettermarks are great at promoting brand familiarity where long titles hinder it.

Initialisms are simple and easy to write, but some careful considerations should still be made.

As they lack the depth that other, more graphic designs harness, the font and colors you choose are crucial.

Ensure that you choose a color palette that represents your brand effectively, taking note of the connotations and associations that colors are paired with. (More on this next.)

Lettermarks

Companies like CNN and ESPN utilize individual lettering to create bold, to-the-point logo artwork.

Such designs are ideal for brands with long, multi-part names that couldn’t feature their full titles in logo form without taking up too much room.

For that reason, lettermarks are great at promoting brand familiarity where long titles hinder it.

Initialisms are simple and easy to write, but some careful considerations should still be made.

As they lack the depth that other, more graphic designs harness, the font and colors you choose are crucial.

Ensure that you choose a color palette that represents your brand effectively, taking note of the connotations and associations that colors are paired with. (More on this next.)

Pictures & Symbols

Typically, a ‘logo’ takes the shape of graphic pictures and symbols – like those of Apple, Twitter and Facebook.

Such logos are emblematic of many large corporations and can successfully communicate a brand’s style, meaning and personality through use of shape and color.

Be cautious, though.

While pictorial marks are often easier to construct and recognise, brand recognition isn’t always as simple as producing simplistic, identifiable artwork.

In other words, although Apple’s logo is widely recognised and easily identifiable today, it has required decades for that to be the case.

It takes a long time before audiences recognise your brand by its logo alone.

If you’re just starting out, featuring your brand’s name alongside pictures and symbols will promote audience recognition by ensuring that viewers get to know your name, not just your designer.

Mascots

Mascots are popular among fast-food chains and business aimed towards children.

They’re a great way to, quite literally, add character to a brand, embodying its personality and identity.

It’s should be noted, though, that a mascot should not comprise the entirety of your logo design.

Mascots lack the versatility that pictorial marks harness and, thus, it is wise to use a mascot alongside other logo types.

2. Getting Your Color Scheme Right

Color is vitally important when it comes to your brand’s success.

The way a customer feels, their willingness to buy a product and the speed at which they make decisions may all be determined by color, according to a number of studies.

Red, for example, evokes powerful emotions in many people. It is known to encourage impulse purchases, stimulate activity and has even been shown to raise blood pressure.

Your logo’s color palette may influence the outcome of your brand in a number of ways. So how can you ensure that your color scheme is built to maximise success?

Start by Confirming Your Goal

What is the purpose of your logo?

Is it to encourage sales, motivating customers to invest in your company/buy products? Is it to induce feelings of relaxation? Is it to reflect a particular theme/concept?

Whatever your aim, ensure that your color scheme follows suit.

Research the different effects that colours like red and blue can have on viewers and now these can shape your brand through emotion.

Does it Work in Grayscale?

According to Design Hack, “a good logo is versatile and will still function well in grayscale”.

If your color scheme and the hues you choose blend well together, they should do so in shades of grey, too.

Any stark contrasts or dull colors will stand out more in black and white.

If your logo coloration still functions in grayscale, you’re onto a winner.

Shape Your Identity

Your logo’s color scheme will comprise a major part of your brand’s identity.

Meditation app, Headspace, for example, sports soothing orange tones that have been proven to stimulate creativity and relaxation.

That’s branding done the right way. It paints a picture of a company that attracts an appropriate target audience.

Consider your ideal brand identity and build your color scheme around that.

3. Typography 101: Know Your Fonts

It’s important that, if you choose to use text, that you utilise typography that complements your logo artwork well.

Generally speaking, there are 4 main font types to choose from:

Serif: Serif fonts can be used to create a classic, timeless feel when used for logo artwork. They are prestige and professional, characterised by small, outward kicks at the extremities of letters.

Sans-serif: Sans-serif fonts are sleek and simplistic. They are similar to serif fonts, but without the small ‘feet’ that jut out at the ends of letters. Sans-serif fonts are perfect for modern brands aiming to adopt a minimalistic feel.

Script: Script fonts mimic handwriting. They are free-flowing and casual, from vintage calligraphy to graffiti artwork. Script fonts can be used to create a relaxed, chic, modern appearance.

Display: Lastly, display fonts are eye-catching and stylized. Steering clear of any rigid, defining structure, this font-type explores the bounds of typography and seeks to present a brand in a loud, character-defining fashion.

4. Make it Your Own

When it comes to logo design, it’s crucial that you keep it unique.

A logo is the key to distinguishing a brand from its competitors so it’s important that your image stands out from everybody else’s.

According to David Airey of Logo Design Love, “What’s important is to create something that’s different from anything already out there,”

“It’s highly unlikely that what you create will be original, but that should be the goal.”

And he’s absolutely correct. If you want your brand to be recognised, loved and successful, your logo has to be unique.

Think Different

Creating unique artwork doesn’t have to be a limitation. Use it as motivation to create something outside-of-the-box; something clever and distinctive.

Dishing out a logo that simply takes your brand’s niche and visualises it isn’t the genius kind of graphic design we’re talking about.

Apple’s logo isn’t a computer. Anybody could have designed that. Volkswagen isn’t represented by a car, either. Clever logo design takes an idea and creates something different.

Think carefully about your brand. Consider its identity, demographic, purpose, and create a logo that delivers these concepts in a one-of-a-kind package.

Check for Plagiarism

As soon as a logo is publicised, other brands will attempt to imitate it. Incidentally, such brands are very rarely successful.

Tools like Logo Thief can be used to measure the individuality of a logo.

If there are other logos that look like your draft, make it different. Make it completely different.

5. What Other Logo Designs are Performing Well?

What are the top-dogs of graphic design doing to maximise their success?

There are many creative, sleek design trends that you can adopt when creating your logo. Let’s discuss three of the best.

The Double Entendre

One incredibly clever design technique is the double entendre, which involves using imagery cleverly to reflect two ideas at the same time.

The Wine Place logo, for example, uses a thumbtack, representing location, that doubles up as an upside-down wine glass when viewed from a different perspective.

Lion Bird, on the other hand, is represented by a bird-shaped design that also mimics the visage of a lion.

The double entendre can be a tricky design gimmick to pull off. When executed effectively, however, it provides a unique framework for designing a logo.

Creative Typography

While on the one hand text-based designs can be limiting, on the other, creative typography can be utilised to create incredibly effective visual effects.

Creative typography takes a text and runs with it. It transforms basic lettering into lively, dynamic and stylistic art.

27’s ‘Under Construction’ screen strays away from using dull text and instead creates a beautiful, paint-splashing effect that stands out.

Creative typography can be much more subtle than this, too. This letter A, for instance, is both minimalistic and complex at the same time, creating a sleek yet eye-catching effect.

If you choose to adopt a text-based logo, be sure to spruce it up and add creative flare with typographic artwork.

Coats of Arms

Coats of arms have been very popular among graphic design culture for many years.

Text is typically placed inside of a circle/semi-circle, often featuring dates such as ‘Est. 1964’. Colors are usually monochromatic, black/white being common choices.

The coat of arms is a very simplistic and versatile logo framework that functions well as a stamp on items like coffee cups, hats and mugs.

It’s also a great option for designers struggling to make use of more advanced techniques like creative typography and the double entendre.

6. Keep it Simple (and Flexible)

One mistake that many designers make is striving to create the most unique, eye-catching logo whilst forgetting to consider how it will be received.

A Great Idea, Utterly Misunderstood

If your logo is a completely different to anybody else’s and uses a really clever design, that’s great. But if nobody understands the meaning behind it, then it’s probably going to perform pretty terribly.

Take Amazon’s logo, for example.

It’s design is unique; lowercase lettering, orange undertones and simplistic design characterise the brand, but none of these features make the logo difficult to comprehend.

Indeed, prioritise creativity. But don’t forget to make sure viewers will understand your logo once it’s out there.

Flexibility

Ease of understanding is a crucial component to logo design success, as is flexibility.

In our digital age, art and graphic design work is likely to appear across a number of social media platforms and news outlets.

A logo will be required to take multiple forms, from Twitter headers to round social media icons.

For that reason, it has to be versatile.

Take Adidas’s logo, for example. Here, designers have created a longer, rectangular variation of the original logo, perfect for cover photo images, whilst still preserving the characteristic features of the Adidas brand.

Your logo may look fantastic in its Photoshop form on white space, but how does it look as a profile picture? Or a social media header?

These are key questions to consider when designing your brand’s artwork.

7. Publish Your Work (But Don’t Expect Instant Success)

Once you’re happy with your logo, start using it!

Be mindful, though, that even some of the most iconic logos like Nike’s took time before they became a roaring success. .

Graphic design work won’t become instantly iconic on its own. A company’s sales, media activity and customer base will all have an enormous combined impact on how quickly a logo becomes recognised.

Poor business performance may not necessarily indicate poor logo design, so don’t be too quick to change things up if your new logo doesn’t send your sales skyrocketing.

Follow the steps above, continue to work on growing your business and be patient.

Credit: Custom Logo Classes & Richard