From an individual creative to multi-billion dollar companies: everyone needs an icon or symbol to represent their brand. These icons/symbols represent companies’ work philosophy, commercial attitude, and future vision. Some people call these symbols a trademark & others term those as logo. Every company has a logo: from simple text-based G–text logo of Google to the sliced apple of Apple Inc. Creativity apart, these logos are extremely simple, distinctive & practical. Their versatile nature makes these unforgettable things.
I am designing logos for my clients & friends since 2013 and in these two years I have learned a lot about the how, what and how-nots of the logo design. This article is a summary of my logo-designing experiences. Which I suppose, would be great help for those who want to give logo making a fresh start.
Before a fresh start.
Think clearly what you are going to do. A logo is more than just drawing some texts and adding an icon. It’s more about the company it represents. For a great brand, you must plan to design a logo that is straightforward, memorable and enduring. By straightforward, I suggest your logo to be understandable by anyone. It shouldn’t look complicated by any angle. Eye-catching graphics are easily memorized and so are simpler ones. So, to spot your impression on your consumer — you must go for a logo that is visually appealing & simple. Now, after you got all on the spot, it must satisfy your company/client (or you, yourself) and other people. Logo feedback may come at the last after you finish designing it but it’s somewhat the most important step of it. It’s very hard to design a logo that will impress both your employees and your customers. So, if your company and you are truly serious to your trademark— I suggest to hire someone who is very good at it. Plus it involves a time-taking process of learning and understanding modern design patterns. Even if you are very good at designing tools — maybe you’ll never be able to figure what suits best to your company without knowing how graphical strategies work.
Which one is a great logo and which one is not?
Whatever it may look like but a logo that interacts with your consumers as a true brand — is perfect. A great logo is not made with some text or an icon or leaves, flowers and decals — a great logo is not always colorful. A great logo is the one which speaks a great story on your behalf.
So, there is no single way of knowing which logo would perfect for your brand. But instead, we can know which one will NOT be okay for the brand.
A logo will not be suitable for your brand if
- It’s not unique.
- It doesn’t meet the latest design trends.
- It’s very complex.
- It’s impractical and unmemorable.
- It has unsuitable colors and curves.
- You like it but no one else does.
- It’s not adaptable to any background you want to use.
An easy 8-step guide to design a logo?
- Step 1: Download and Install vector designing applications. (Easy)
- Step 2: Collect fonts & graphic packs. (Easy)
- Step 3: Learn about Color Theory/Design Patterns. (Hard)
- Step 4: Learn from others. (Medium)
- Step 5: Draw something cool. (Hard)
- Step 6: Try variants. (Easy)
- Step 7: Render it at the best resolution. (Easy)
- Step 7: Get feedback. (Medium to Hard)
- Step 8: Improve (Optional) (Hard)
Step 1: Download and Install vector designing applications
There are dozens of high-quality design tools available for all operating systems including personal computers as well as tablets and smartphones. A desktop/laptop will be the best thing to start designing a logo. There are many great laptops & ultrabooks, like LG Gram 17, MacBook Pro, available for graphic artists right now and more are coming. There are several reasons why desktop or laptop PCs should be preferred over tablets/mobiles in a designing process.
- PCs are wide enough to put your content in one place.
- Multitasking is easier on PC. This helps research & resource finding easy during a design work.
- The variety, number and the quality of designing apps for desktop/laptop are greater than those available for the smartphones and tablets.
- A PC is usually faster than a handheld device and has better processing.
As far as premium tools are concerned Adobe Illustrator & CorelDRAW are at the top for logo designing. Loaded with limitless features, these cost too much for a starter project. For free use, Inkscape is the best. But wait, free doesn’t mean it’s any less to those premium tools like Illustrator and CorelDraw. Made in years of community collaboration and loaded with features Inkscape stands far-far ahead to its competitors. In a phrase, it has no free logo making replacement available yet. Despite of being low in installation size, Inkscape beats Illustrator and DRAW Software in various usability aspects such as ease, portability, speed and vector editing. I have used it for a long time and most of my projects are handled by the same software. Inkscape is easy to learn but hard to master. Once you get used to it, you’ll be amazed how great it can be. Inkscape is available for all desktop environments, including Windows, Linux and Mac. Krita is another creative alternative to Inkscape, mainly focused on artistic designs.
As said, it is more art focused and doesn’t truly fit comfortable in logo making.
Adventurous users can also try these premium tools & buy if they are capable of:
- Adobe Illustrator CC
- CorelDRAW X7
- Xara Designer
- Adobe Photoshop CC
Illustrator like applications may take time understanding things but once you get used to it, you’ll understand why it’s said the best designing app in the world. CorelDRAW, on the other hand is something I preferred not to learn. It’s lightweight and equally capable to Illustrator but comes with a huge price tag. Sketch, Photoshop and Xara Designer are other premium alternatives you can give a run on.
Step 2: Download Fonts and Graphic Packs
After you are finished setting up the application on your system, you will surely look for some resources you can start with. You’ll need some icons, fonts and other graphics.
Icons are used to symbolize a brand’s instinct. These should be chosen carefully. You can not just start by copying & pasting an existing icon already available on the Internet. However, in the other note, you can pick one, edit and use that into your document if it fits to your requirements. For example a simple bulb icon (with generally represents an idea) can be modified in different ways according to the needs & concept of brand. Here is a visual of search results in Google:
Some premier websites offer high quality graphic downloads for free. Freepik, Smashing Magazine like websites have a well appreciated collection of such stuffs. Torrents can also be proved very resourceful in the same hunt.
Inkscape is a pure vector editor and therefore works well with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). So, it’s best recommended to download the icons in .svg file format, which you can find a lot on the internet or using Google’s file format specific search. Inkscape can also handle PNG, JPG, AI & EPS files too. Bitmaps like JPEG and PNG (transparent ones are the best) can be converted into SVG by tracing them in Inkscape Path –> Trace Bitmap menu and then can be edited thoroughly. Adobe Illustrator’s AI & EPS files can be directly opened with Inkscape.
Fonts play very important role in logo making. To insure all alternation of typesets possible, you will need a huge font library of different genres. You can find and downloaded some great looking fonts from INTERNET. Many of them are available for free and can be used without any restriction. Interested users can download the fonts of their choice from dafont.com too. Dafont has a collection of hundreds of fonts from different categories and independent designers. Irrespective of what project — you are working on, dafont can be the one stop solution to that. Font selling markets like creativemarket offers free fonts & other design goodies every week. You can visit their free goods section & grab a few of them.
Step 3: Learn about the Color Theory
Visual Attraction is the most important aspect of a logo design. Nobody likes a dull & incorrectly painted graphic – whether it’s a logo or any other graphic. The colors should be chosen wisely in the logo design. Each color has its own meaning. For example, all we know that the color red is used for anger, danger and passion. It is however, also shown in food companies — as red color is scientifically proven to stimulate hunger. The color psychology is what you must learn before proceeding further. You may experiment with color-combination anytime but understanding color psychology helps at crucial points.
Here is an alphabetical list of colors, you can use in your design in different mentioned genres.
- Black: Power, Simplicity, Villanious Attitude, Darkness, Information.
- It’s best not to use true black (Hex: #000000) until necessary.
- You can use flat variants #222222, #333333 instead of true black. These colors are highly preferred over true black. Other variants are: #34495e, #2c3e50.
- Blue: Corporate, Professionalism, Technology, Sincerity.
- Best color variants are: #3498db, #2980b9, #005c94, #0084c8, #19aeff.
- Green: Happiness, Nature, Medical, Finance.
- Best color variants are: #009100, #00cc00, #27ae60, #2ecc71.
- Pink: Feminine, Colorful.
- Best color variants are: #ff00ff, #cc00ff, #dd55ff.
- Purple: Royality, Luxury, High Quality.
- Best variants are: #ab37c8, #8800aa.
- Red: Danger, Aggression,Apetitte, Energy, Passion, Heat.
- Best color variants are: #c0392b, #e74c3c, #ff4141, #dc0000, #b50000.
- White: Purity, cleanliness, simplicity and naiveté.
- Best color variants are: #f7f7f7, #eeeeee, #ffffff.
- Yellow: Sunny, Warm, Cowardice,Negativeness, Food.
- Best color variants: #f1c40f, #f39c12.
These are just some examples of how colors can be used to represents emotions and objections. A detailed guide on choosing colors in graphics is available on Smashing Magazine’s article. Adventurous readers can checkout this useful article about color selection from Venngage blog. Moreover, Inkscape like tools have several color combinations (palettes) which you will always find very useful. I have collected some excellent color palettes in my github repository.
Step 4: Learn from the others
The Internet is a huge ocean of knowledge. There are dozens of high quality designing blogs you can follow and get tips and tools about graphic designing including logos and all. In addition to reading stuffs, you can be also motivated by behance & dribbble like designing showcases.
These are some ‘awesome’ blogs worth bookmarking:
Also, these free books are worth keeping in your digital library:
- Everything there is to know about logo design
- Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook
- Type Classification e-book
- Typo Tips
Online portfolio showcase from where you can get inspired by seeing others’ work: