Along with getting the name right, logo design is one of the most difficult things store owners have to grapple with. Let’s get straight to the point: If you’re not a graphic designer, hire one. Creating a logo requires skills. Your logo will reflect your brand, both offline and online, in one single graphic. That’s no mean feat. A shoddy, homemade logo will make your brand appear shoddy and homemade. A logo needs to be simple, versatile and enduring. You need to stand out. Your logo has a big task for what seems like a small thing. A combination of imagery, font, colour and subtle positioning will play an important part, not only for first impressions, but also memorability and the associations that customers and visitors have with your brand. Your logo must reflect aspects of:
- What you do/sell
What it must not do is distract from, confuse or even contradict your concept. Before you start this section download and print our Logo Design Workbook and grab yourself a pencil. And a rubber. Next follow these seven steps to logo design.
Activity: Download and print the Logo Design Workbook.
1. Do your research
First, you need to understand what a logo is. It’s not a graphic and it’s not the same as branding. Browse logos on Logo Moose, Logo Gala and Logo Lounge. What logos do you like? On these sites, you can search keywords and get inspired or just browse, but, more importantly, you can see what’s already been done. Don’t over do it though – you’ll just frazzle your brain if you spend too long looking at other people’s logos. It’s also worth doing a quick search on Google images to see what inspires you. Brainstorming ideas for bringing your logo concept to life can include:
- The name. What represents this?
- Thesaurus. Think synonyms.
- Your own aesthetic. What do you like? What style?
- Mood: whimsical, nostalgic, retro, vintage, contemporary, minimalistic, playful.
Activity: Find five logos that you like the look of. Write down what you do and don’t like about them. Do they have similar elements? What message do they convey about that brand?
Time to go old school. Look at Section 2 of your workbook and get sketching. You don’t need a fine art degree, you just need to get your creative juices flowing. Play. And then play some more. Never throw away your sketches, they may come in useful later.
Activity: Sketch out five logo designs. It doesn’t matter if they look like a toddler’s scribblings – they’re to help communicate your vision.
3. Think typography
It’s all about the font. Typography is central to good logo design. There are two options here – use an existing font or create your own. You may have to pay to use a font commercially. Make sure your font isn’t too ‘fashionable’ – it needs to be timeless, or you’ll be redesigning it in five years – and that it’s legible in small print. Consider adapting an existing font – removing, extending or joining parts of letters may be enough to make your design unique. You only need to see part of some letters for you to still be able to recognise them. Make sure you consider the words that you’re depicting. If they’re unusual then a simple typeface might work best; if they’re common words then you can usually be more creative, as they’re easier to recognise. Have a look at these sites:
- Font Squirrel. Fonts free for commercial use.
- Da Font. Lots of fonts, with licensing information.
- MyScriptFont. Create a font based on your own handwriting.
Activity: Find five fonts you like. Why do you like them? Do they represent your brand? Do you need to pay for them? How much? What would you change about them?
4. Consider colour
Colour represents different things in different cultures so it’s worth thinking about this as part of your logo development inline with your target audience. Most logos need to work in black and white as well as colour, so if your logo uses colour for meaning, you may need to think about what will work in monochrome. The colour of your logo will dictate your branding. Colour scheme generators such as Color Scheme Designer are an easy way to develop colour schemes. Shigenobu Kobayashi’s classic A Book of Colors is a great resource for colour combinations. Pop to your local library and borrow a copy.
Activity: Do some initial work on your colour scheme. What colours do you like? Do they go together? Put together five colour schemes. Look objectively at them. Will they stand the test of time? Do they convey your message?
5. Don’t overdo it
Don’t try to make the logo design do too much. It doesn’t have to reflect every aspect of the company’s history or demonstrate what the product or service is. A shop for children doesn’t have to show a child on its logo. Example: Burp! Boutique has a very simple logo, but it works. Simple and impactful is always the best option when it comes to logos.
Activity: Go back to your original sketches and simplify them. Remove the clutter. Take them back a notch.
6. Ask your Warm Market
Show people your sketches and ask them what message they convey. Sometimes you really cannot see for looking, and keeping design to yourself may end up in a big fat fail. After you’ve completed your logo sketches, ask your Warm Market for a bit of feedback. Look at the logo sideways, look at it upside down and reverse it. Look at it every which way you can. Could it be construed as anything else? Check, check and triple check.
Activity: Show five people your logos and ask them for five key words to describe your business. Are these the words you wanted to hear? Are they similar? You may need to go back to the drawing board. That’s OK. These sketches help create a clear brief.
7. Are you good enough to design your logo?
Time to get real. Do you have the right skills to do your logo? Really? Can you create different formats for different mediums. Do you know your hex from your RGB? And will you be able to pull together a style guide? Being computer literate and good with Photoshop does not make you a graphic designer. It’s worth investing money to have your logo designed professionally. Whether you are doing this yourself or employing someone for you, you need to create a design brief. The brief communicates exactly what you like and the message you’re trying to convey and will save you both time and money in the long run. In the next section, Finding and Working With A Designer, we’ll help you write a brief.
Stay open minded
You may have now developed a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a logo, but keep your options open. Let your graphic designer use what you have presented, but, with their knowledge and experience, create the logo for you. When you get your logo, reflect on it. Don’t respond straight away. Print it out. Stick it up. Look at it. Design is so subjective, and quite often we have a knee-jerk reaction. When you’re ready to give feedback, be articulate. Tell your designer clearly what you like, or don’t like about it. They will appreciate considered feedback.
- If in doubt, leave it out. If you can’t rationalise an element that’s part of your logo design, the chances are you need to remove it. Simplest is probably strongest.
- Don’t to be too literal – as your company grows your offering may evolve.
- Don’t confuse ‘logo’ with ‘brand’. A logo isn’t the brand, it’s an element of it.
- Do you like your logo? Or are you just OK with it? Being OK with it isn’t good enough.
- Once you have your logo, create a logo style guide. Style guides determine the way a logo design can be used and usually include colour options, size restraints, positioning, typefaces and how the logo design works on different backgrounds.
- Don’t rip other people off. There are obvious ethical reasons not to plagiarise other people’s designs, not to mention the potential threat to your reputation if you’re discovered. And people do get discovered, there are blogs dedicated to this stuff.
- Think about how your logo will work on social media platforms. If you can use Photoshop, this free template from Wickie Media will make life easier for you. Otherwise, ask your designer.
- Never use stock images or clip art. Logos are supposed to be unique to your brand. Using stock images immediately dilutes that. If you like a stock image, you can bet your bottom dollar someone else does too. And clip art? Save it for school projects. Walk away.