Designing a logo might seem like a simple and quick task, however, there's actually lot more that goes into it than you might think.
Whether you're a new business just starting out, or a business who's in the process of rebranding, there are a few important things you are going to want to consider before you get started.
The guide below should open your mind to some new ideas and concepts you may not have thought about, but are pretty important to figure out in the initial stages of the logo design process.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.
1. ARE YOU GOING TO BE DESIGNING YOUR OWN LOGO OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE WORKING WITH A DESIGNER?
If you're going to be designing your own logo, definitely read through this post to educate yourself on some of the concepts you really need to consider to have the best outcome.
If you're going to be working with a designer, it's extremely helpful to think about what you want and communicate as much information as you can before they begin the creative process.
This helps them get a better understanding of your vision and your needs, which can help cut down on the back and forth, while also saving you from having to pay more for additional revisions (most designers include 2-3 revisions in their logo packages and then charge an hourly rate for additional work after that.)
A designer can help you get your logo designed and set up correctly from the beginning, which can save you a lot of money, energy and hassles down the line, in the event that you somehow paint yourself into a corner by not having the correct logo files (more on this later.)
A logo is just a part of your brand, but it plays a pretty big role in how your brand comes across to your audience. It has the ability to set you apart from others who maybe don't take their business as seriously, who don't really care about what kind of audience they are trying to attract or who just haven't educated themselves yet on the importance of branding.
No one wants to feel #brandshame. You want to be proud of your branding because it will reflect the essence of YOU, your passions, your strengths, what you stand for and who you most want to serve.
When you feel better about your brand, you feel better promoting what you do. And the more you promote, the better chance of getting yourself in front of your dream audience. By seeing you more, it helps them remember you, which increases the likelihood that they'll want what you're promoting... which means more money in the bank for you, and with less effort!
That being said, if you want to rise above the mediocre and have less competition, you should definitely consider hiring a designer to help you out. They can help your branding not only look more professional and well-put-together, but also be completely functional across multiple mediums. It's worth investing in your business no matter what stage you're at!
2. WHERE DO YOU PLAN TO USE YOUR LOGO?
Think about where you are going to be using your logo. Are you only going to be using it online? Or are you also going to printing it onto things?
Here are some examples of where you might use your logo:
- the header area of your website
- social media profile pictures
- as a favicon next to the URL of your browser window
- branded social media posts
- business cards
- branded merchandise like t-shirts, hats or mugs
- a vehicle wrap
- a large banner or advertisement on the side of a building
If you're planning on using your logo for both web and print purposes, you're going to want to have your logo files in both RGB and CMYK color modes.
CMYK is for print purposes and stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, which are the 4 colors used to make up the colors in a full color printed page.
RGB is for web purposes and stands for Red, Green and Blue, which are the colors used to make up all the colors you see on your computer screen. Black is the absence of light.
You're also going to want to make sure you have a vector file of your logo so that you can scale it up to any size, without it looking blurry and pixellated. Since vector files are meant to be used for printing, they are provided in CMYK color mode (I'll be explaining more about vectors in the next topic of this post.)
In addition, you should also consider the shape of your logo and if you should have variations of your logo created (I'll be explaining this more in depth later in this post as well.)
3. WHAT FILE TYPES WILL YOU NEED ONCE YOUR LOGO IS COMPLETE?
This depends on what you plan to use it for, but if you are working with a designer, I recommend getting as many file types as possible (I usually provide 7 different file types for each logo variation: AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG, JPG, GIF).
Logo design files come in 2 main categories: Vector and Raster
1. Vector - A vector file is built up from mathematically precise points and can be scaled to any size without any loss of quality.
It's always in your best interest to have the original file of your logo, in case you ever need to make edits to it but can't get in contact with the original designer. By having the original, you could just send it over to another designer, who would then easily be able to make changes or updates for you, and without having to pay them to redesign the entire logo from scratch.
In addition, some printers require an AI file for printing, so by having this file type, you could just email it over to them, get your stuff printed and be good to go!
Vector file types and their uses
- AI (Adobe Illustrator) - the original, editable, working file.
- PDF (Portable Document File) - this type of file can be universally viewed on any computer with Adobe Acrobat (or another PDF viewer). It’s also possible to preserve Illustrator-editing capabilities when saving in this format, meaning it can be opened and modified in the same way an AI file can.
- SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) standard vector file format and can be opened and edited in most major design software.
- EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) - This type of vector file has now become a bit outdated, however, some print companies who are using older technologies request this type of file.
QUICK TIP: If you're designing your own logo and are planning to print it, you should have a designer create a vector logo for you. Otherwise, your logo may print blurry or pixellated, which doesn't look very professional.
To help you get a better idea of how a vector logo is created in Adobe Illustrator, here's a quick visual:
As part of any standard logo design process, most designers draw out your logo in a program called Adobe Illustrator (software used to make vector art.) Once the design is finished, the designer then converts it into a vector logo by expanding all of the text and shapes and converting them into outlines.
This process is what makes your logo a "vector logo" and therefore allows the logo to become scalable to any size.
Expanding all the text and shapes.
Below is the logo viewed in "outline mode" (in Adobe Illustrator) and is how you can tell if a logo is a vector logo.
This logo is not a vector logo because it has not been converted into outlines.
This logo is a vector logo because all the text and shapes have been been expanded and converted into outlines.
Once the design is completed, the designer usually sends you the original AI file, along with some other file types (EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG, JPG, GIF).
2. Raster - Raster files are built up of small squares called pixels, which means you can't increase the size of your image without it becoming "pixellated" or blurry.
This is why a logo should always be created in vector format, so that you always have a clean and crisp image.
And again, if you're designing your own logo, this is why you should definitely have a designer convert it to a vector for you! 🙂
Raster file types and their uses
- JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) - Great to use in social media headers, profile pics & shared images. Also good for website photos because it provides a good balance between file size and image quality.
- PNG (Portable Network Graphic) - Since this file type usually has a transparent background, it's great for a website logo or other image you need displayed well. It can also be a larger and higher quality file format.
- GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) - This file is best for icons, buttons or small animations. Any kind of graphic that has sharp edges. Not great for photos.
The 2 most important types of files you should have for your logo
The most important file type for you to have is the AI file (the original vector file) as it can be edited or converted to any other file type using Adobe Illustrator.
I would also suggest having a PNG file, as this is the file type you will probably use the most, most likely for your website and social media marketing. This type of file usually has a transparent background so you can put it on top of a photo as a sort of watermark, or on any background color, and it won't have a big white box behind it.
On the other hand, a JPG file would have a white box behind it because it's not a file type that is able to have a transparent background.
4. WHAT TYPE OF LOGO DO YOU WANT YOUR LOGO TO BE?
There are a handful of different types of logos to choose from so I've included a list of them along with an example for each below.
- Brand Mark - Also known as a pictorial mark, a brand mark represents the business in a simple but bold manner. It contains no text and is more of an icon or symbol that represents the company or brand. A brand mark can be a great way for others to form a psychological connection to your brand, as the brain responds on a deeper, more instinctive level to an image than written text, which needs to be interpreted.
- Word Mark - Uniquely styled, text-based logos that spell out the business or brand name. These usually use custom fonts that are created specifically for a brand to use across all of their marketing and branding collateral.
- Letter Mark - Exclusively typographic and usually represents the brand through the use of its initials or the brands first letter. Brands who choose to use this type of logo usually have a long name or a name that's hard to pronounce.
- Combination Mark - Combines a word mark with a symbol, icon or letter mark.
- Combination Mark + Slogan - Combines a combination mark with the brand's slogan.
- Emblem - The business name is encased in a symbol to look like a badge, stamp or a seal, which can lend an air of authority and authenticity to a modern-day brand.
5. WHAT SHAPE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN LOGO TO BE?
Think back to where you plan to use your logo. If you're just going to be using it in the header area of your website, a horizontal logo might fit the best. But maybe you want a square or circular logo, that's totally cool, too!
Whatever you decide on, think about where you're going to be using it to make sure it's going to fit well.
In addition, make sure to communicate this with your designer before they begin the design process!
6. SHOULD YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL VARIATIONS OF YOUR LOGO DESIGNED?
If you're going to be using your logo across multiple mediums, you should probably have multiple variations of your logo designed, in order to have complete freedom of use with it.
I usually recommend having at least 3 logo variations designed:
1. The main logo in a horizontal shape.
Example: I use an additional variation of a word mark logo as my header logo on my website. See how nicely that fits?
2. An alternative logo in a circular shape.
Example: The default shape for the Instagram and Pinterest profile pics is a circle so I created a circular alternative logo to use for that
3. Another alternative logo in a square shape.
Example: The default shape for the Facebook page profile pic is square, so I created a square logo for that.
Three additional types of logo variations you might want to consider:
1. A favicon logo - the tiny icon logo next to your domain name in the URL area of your browser window
2. A sub-mark logo - an element that is pulled from the main logo to create a simple alternative to their main logo. These are helpful for brands that have long business names as they may just use the initials of the business name.
3. A watermark logo - a semi-transparent logo superimposed over the top of a photo, which is used to prevent others from trying to copy and use the photo without permission.
7. WHAT COLORS ARE YOU GOING TO USE IN YOUR LOGO?
I recommend sticking to 2-3 colors but no more than that (a logo that uses a variety of colors can look cluttered and feel overwhelming. It's also more expensive to print multiple colors.)
Pick out a few colors from your brand's color palette and stick with those for one logo. If you are making variations of your logo, you could use different color combinations but try to only use 2-3 colors at the most! I recommend a light, dark and full color version for all main logo types.
Quick Color Tip: Copy and paste your brand's hex codes in your Notes app (or something similar) on your computer so you can easily refer to them whenever you need them. Or refer to your Branding Board!
You also want to make sure your logo is legible on both light and dark backgrounds (you would need to make sure the background of your logo is transparent for this and so I recommend having a transparent PNG file of your logo.)
It might also be good idea to have an all-white version and an all-black version of your logo created, in addition to your colored logos (again as transparent PNG files.)
Also, it's best to NOT use gradients or photos in your logo if you're planning on printing it, as neither reproduce very well. If you want to have a printable logo, I would suggest having some additional variations of your logo created that don't include a gradient or photo in them.
8. WHAT FONTS ARE YOU GOING TO USE?
Generally, you want to pair 2-3 fonts together for your logo, but no more than 3 as it can make your logo look like a hot mess, and you don't want that!
To pair your fonts, you can do one of the following:
- Pair fonts from the same category, (use different font weights, such as regular and a bold, to create a visual contrast)
- Pair fonts from different categories (choose 2 from the following 3 categories)
- Serif - Fonts that have serifs (which look like wing tips)
- Sans Serif - The word "sans" means "without" so a sans serif font literally means "without serifs."
- Script - A font that looks cursive, swirly, feminine or handwritten.
To help you get a better understanding of what these look like, here's a visual for ya!
Where to find free fonts:
Where to find premium fonts:
9. ARE THERE ANY ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN YOUR LOGO? (BRANDED ELEMENTS, WORDS, ICONS, A TAGLINE)
Below are some examples of things I used in my branding that might help you think about the things you should use in your branding.
My logo uses specific fonts that I've chosen ahead of time to convey the kind of feeling I want my brand to reflect, so I definitely need to include these fonts in my logo and should not include any other fonts, ever.
I also usually use a crown with a heart or just a heart as my branded elements or icons. To me, these symbolize both empowerment and passion. And the fact that the heart is pink gives a feminine vibe.
Circles are also part of my branding, as they represent femininity, warmth, comfort and love. Circles also represent movement and suggest energy and power. In addition, they also suggest community, integrity and perfection, which just happen to be a few of my brand's core values.
And finally, I have a tagline, but I only use it in some of my logo variations, depending where it's going.
This is the logo variation of my footer logo, which includes my tagline.
I hope this post helped give you a better understanding of what goes into designing a logo!
Now onto you:
Have you ever designed your own logo? Did you run into any issues down the line by not having a vectorized logo? Comment below and let me know!
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