How to Design a Logo
4.8 (96.92%) 13 votes

One of the most underrated and overlooked facets of creating a website or business is the manner in which its branded.

Regardless of the service or good you’re attempting to sell, many consumers will instantly make a snap judgment on your entire organization based on a single glance of your company logo.

Whether that’s fair or not is an entirely different discussion, but the truth remains that a thoughtful, well-designed logo will ensure you stand out from an increasingly crowded marketplace.

What Makes a Great Logo?

While it’s no easy task to nail down precisely what makes a logo great, most times you instantly recognize its brilliance when you see one. More often than not, those iconic designs share a few common traits.

Simplicity

What make a great logo simplicity design logo

Many of the great company logos reflect a bold, but incredibly simple stroke of design genius that to this day, years after their creation, continue to stand the test of time.

Nike. McDonald’s. Apple.

Three of the biggest brands in history, and we’re pretty sure that just by seeing their names, it instantly invokes the singular image of their respective logo.

The swoosh. The golden arches. The apple with a single missing bite.

When designing your company or website logo, keep simplicity front and center. The more straightforward your design, the more memorable its likely to be.

Flexibility

With flexibility, a logo needs to have the capacity to travel and branch out without losing sight of the company it represents. It can’t merely look good on a business card, and then be unproducible on a website or t-shirt.

Conversely, it should be able to represent multiple facets of a business, while still holding true to the overall guiding principle of the organization.

Amazon.com and it myriad business offshoots and Google’s infinite, image altering doodles are prime examples of how a logo can change and still represent a company’s core business.

Have the same foresight with your design. Don’t simply concentrate on its current use, but also focus on how that use may evolve in the future.

Conveyance

What make a great logo conveyance design logo

The final ingredient is conveyance. In a single design, your logo represents your company, everything it stands for and the audience you’re trying to reach. This is where the thoughtfulness of understanding your brand plays a huge part in the overall design.

Mercedes-Benz’s encircled three-pointed star relays an elegant, refined sense of luxury. The FedEx moniker, with its strategically hidden arrow, reflects a steady, reliable service, yet one that’s on the move.

Be clear about what you’re trying to convey with your design. Do you want to be seen as serious, whimsical, service-oriented, or something else? With the right logo, you’ll be able to tell your consumers precisely who you are.

Designing a Great Logo

Understanding the critical ingredients of a great logo is only part of the equation. Now you need to figure out how to create that lasting image that will successfully brand who your organization is and where you want to take it.

There are several factors to consider when determining how best to represent your brand.

Who’s Your Consumer?

Although logo’s come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors, the most well known and effective designs ultimately serve their company and the industry or marketplace in which they operate.

Ever wonder why financial service companies utilize animals or mountainous images in their trademarks?

Animals and land masses convey strength, maturity and stability, three things a consumer often wants out of groups they entrust with handling their money.

Using the same thought process, below are a few examples of various services and suggested imagery that convey what they represent:

  • Freelance Writing: Literary themes, or illustration that shows a grasp of the arts or language
  • Web-Based T-Shirt Company: Casual or relaxed depictions or symbols that represent vacations or downtime
  • Music Promotion Group: Melodic representations or musical themed suggestions or references

You don’t have to be precisely on the nose with the imagery itself, thinly veiled links are more than enough to plant the seed in the mind of your target audience.  

For example, with the freelance writing service, you could use calligraphy in your company font or incorporate grammatical symbols in subtle but creative ways.

With the music promotion business, a songbird or creative play on your company’s name may be enough to give you an appeal that stands apart from a mass of lookalike logos.

Soundcloud is an excellent illustration of how to get creative but stick close to the industry in which it operates.

Showing a creative flair will not only draw in potential clients but also ensure you stand out amongst a sea of established industry norms that all carry a sameness to them.

To Name or Not to Name

Incorporate company name or not design logo

Whether to incorporate your company name into a logo is often a major stumbling block for a lot of firms. If you’re a startup, you need to get your name out in the public domain as much as possible. You don’t have the multi-decade history of a Nike or Apple that’s allowed you to be identified by a simple symbol.

The flip side is that your company name doesn’t easily translate to a workable image or may be too cumbersome to be effective on marketing materials.

To address both concerns, design your logo so it can be used as a standalone marketing tool and in tandem with your company name when necessary. As your business grows, your customers will eventually associate the logo with the name allowing you confident promotion solely with the design.

Though be mindful to blend together colors, and any specific design touches in both name and image. If you use a traditional, red-hued font for your company’s masthead, but are designing a more contemporary orange and gray logo, you will want to update the old heading to match the new logo or vice versa.

Be consistent and cohesive with your presentation. Consumers are drawn just as much to a well-crafted logo as they are to those that are unique.

Don’t Follow Current Trends

Timeless brands resonate with consumers regardless of the decade or era. Think Coca-Cola’s unadorned cursive and Disney’s playful print or CBS’s iconic eye and NBC’s long-standing peacock.

These monikers and logos last because they were not designed to reflect a point in time, but instead to reflect a company’s ideals.

Though yours may be a long way from iconic image status, your logo can easily incorporate similar timeless elements to be just as effective in standing against ever-changing trends.

Use primary colors and stay away from incorporating too many tones. For words or lettering stick with simple fonts that are easily reproduced or scaled, i.e., something that will look good on a business card, computer screen, sheet of paper and a monument sign.

For images, avoid clip art or flavor of the day pictures that may be neat to look at now, but will be stale relics in a few short years.

You’ll also want to make sure your logo looks good if reproduced in black and white. We still have yet to reach full-color saturation, and your logo needs to look equally as professional if printed in black and white.

Keep It Simple

How to design logo keep it simple

Yes, we realize that we have already covered this once, but it’s that important that it bears repeating. While you want to be thoughtful and take care of the development of your logo, do not do more than what is necessary.

If you think your logo might be too colorful and busy, it probably is.

If you think your logo has too many words or letters, it probably does.

If you think your logo won’t scale correctly to marketing materials, it probably can’t.

Seriously, no one will ever fault you for under designing or trying to scale back your logo to something that is uncomplicated and straightforward. Remember, simple sells.

Design Services

If you find your yourself struggling with inspiration or unable to put to paper what’s churning in your head, there are several tools you can use to create an emblem representative of your business.

Online Logo Generators

While it may sound like an unconventional way to create a company symbol, online logo generators can be considerable advantages in building your perfect brand with breaking the bank or losing you significant amounts of time.

Even if you don’t end up using the design you created, online logo generators can at the very least help you brainstorm and gain a visual representation of your ideas.

Tailor Brands

Online logo generators Tailor Brands

Unlike most logo generators, which require you to control the basics of image or font selection, Tailor Brands utilizes an algorithm to select a scheme that may fit your needs.

The process is quite simple.

You type in your business name and complete a brief description using keywords that best identify what your firm is all about.

Then you choose from three basic design styles:

  • Icon Based: Uses an image, either abstract or clip based art, as the focal point of your logo.
  • Name Based: Relies on your company name as the central aspect of your logo.
  • Initial Based: Incorporates your business’s initials as the primary logo design feature.

After that, you are asked to select your preference between a handful of fonts (or none at all).

Once you’ve completed the font Q&A, the site produces several logo options, which you can quickly scroll through and select. You can also view how the logo will look on numerous business and marketing materials, which is a nice extra to see real-world applications.

As quick and easy as this was, keep in mind a lot of the options you’ll receive are relatively generic. It won’t have the creative eye or design sensibilities of a human being, and if you’re looking for something highly unique and memorable, this is not the route to take.

However, this can help kickstart some ideas if you’ve been void of any inspiration and it is an effortless and inexpensive solution if you don’t require anything too elaborate.

Tailor Brands is free to use for creation and download of a low-resolution image. High-resolution downloads can run anywhere from $24 to $99.

Squarespace

More known for their excellent website building application, Squarespace offers a nifty little logo design tool that while far from elaborate, can be useful in helping to create a decent brand image.

To get started, type in your business name and select an initial image from the library. After that, it becomes a limited, free-form editor.

You can adjust the location of the image in relation to your company name or vice versa, toggle the colors for both name and logo, and adjust the font. There is an option to include a tagline which adds both an extra element to your baseline log or the opportunity to be a bit more creative.

The image library is quite vast, and while the images themselves are pretty basic, there is a lot from which to choose. We do wish the search function was a bit more robust and consistent with its keyword search, so you might need to enter a few different variables to find a particular image (for example entering street, road, and avenue in the search can yield similar but also vastly different results).

Beyond that, the Squarespace logo maker is a decent tool if you don’t mind a little do it yourself action. A low-resolution image is free with a high-resolution download costing you $10. If you use Squarespace as your website solution, you can get a high-resolution image at no cost.

Canva

Online logo generators Canva

Canva provides a bit more immersive experience when it comes to creating a logo.

After signing up for the free account,  the service asks your industry, and after the option to add collaborators you are given a choice to develop several different marketing materials that include a flyer, web banner, or collage among many other selections. Amongst these is the option to design a logo.

From that point, you are provided some templates to choose from until you finally end up at the Canva editor. If you use Wix or Weebly or any other drag and drop website builder, Canva will feel very familiar.

It’s a drag and drop editor that works off of templates to help you create your perfect logo. They have tons of templates, images, photos, and illustrations. You can quickly whip up a serviceable logo in two minutes or spend two hours twisting and tweaking the perfect company brand.

While Canva is much more feature rich than Tailor Brand or the Squarespace logo tool, its really more of a marketing material creation site than simple logo creator.

It’s free to use, but there are added costs involved as extra images and tools require additional purchase. They also have a monthly service option, Canva for Work, which runs $12.95.

Hatchful

Shopify’s logo generator, Hatchful, is perhaps the most colorful of the bunch with a vibrant interface and a lot of bold templates.

You start by choosing your industry or business space and then selecting your visual style from 18 different options including choices like bold, elegant, natural, or strong.

Next, add your business name and choose all the areas where you hope to use your logo. A trove of generated options will pop up any of which you can select to continue the editing process. Be aware that some of the logos are free, while others will require purchasing.

The additional editing is limited, to say the least. You can edit fonts and colors, but its reduced to predetermined schemes. To Hatchful’s credit though, there is an endless amount of predetermined schemes.

Once you’re satisfied, you move on to the download page where you can retrieve a high-resolution download of one of the free selections or pay $9.99 for one of the premium selections.

Hatchful is a neat tool. While it’s limited to what the system produces for you, it’s easy to spend quite a bit of time poking back and forth in the program to see what combinations you can create.

Additional Logo Generators

There are other online logo services available that offer similar customization features to the ones we detailed above. They include:

  • Vistaprint
  • GraphicSprings
  • Withhoomph
  • Online Logo Maker
  • LogoJoy

While all of the above listed sites are useful tools in their own right, they are designed to produce quick, serviceable logos that you can create and put into service in less than 10 minutes.

Many of the generated logos though may not meet all of the principal requirements we outlined earlier. If that is not as important to you or your company goals, the chances are good that you’ll be able to find a brand to your liking.

Professional Design Services

Professional logo design services Fiverr

If you are still wanting a logo that has potential staying power and will resonate with both you and your customers, then employing the use of a professional may be your best option.

There are two equally viable ways to do this, but the costs involved in each method will vary significantly.

First, you can visit a site like Fiverr, where you engage with independent freelancers who can design your logo based on the specific specs or instructions you give them.

Search through the different gigs, and select one that matches your project and cost requirements. With Fiverr, costs can vary based on the work you and the designer agree to, but you could ultimately acquire a high-quality downloadable image for $5.

Finally, if you don’t mind shelling out a decent amount of money, you can hire a professional firm to design your company logo. Although the time and costs involved can be a burden, the investment is usually well worth it, especially for a larger organization.

Just simply by their nature, this approach does provide you the best chance of creating a high-quality, high-impact logo that will represent everything you need it to for your organization.

Keep in mind, that there is still no guarantee that it would be any better or any worse than a two-minute logo generated from an online service.

Hiring a professional firm can cost as little as $500 for basic design services, but depending on the level of engagement, the pricing can rapidly increase. But you are paying them to learn about who you are and what you do and to craft something unique to your firm.

Conclusion

As we mentioned in the opening, do not underestimate the power of a logo. Regardless of the tools or services you use to create your company’s marketing symbol, make it count.

Having a simple, flexible design that effectively conveys who your company is and what it stands for will place you well ahead of your competitors and first in line with your target audience.

Many times, in fact, it’s the first impression someone has of you and your company. Be sure that impression is a company they want to do business with.

How to Design a Logo

Written by Alex Jasin

Last Updated: August 28, 2018