If you’re trying to figure out how to design a logo, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain the different categories of logo design, look at the qualities that great logos have in common, show you how to create your own logo from scratch, and share a great tool for logo design online to help you speed up the process and save money.
Your logo is the face of your company. It is often the first thing a potential customer notices about a business, whether they come across it on your business card, your social media profile or your website. It is an essential part of your company’s story and brand identity, and should occupy pride of place on all of your branding and marketing materials.
A well-designed logo is a simple way of creating a great first impression, communicating what your company stands for, and differentiating yourself from the competition.
Logo Design Categories
Logo designs fall into three broad categories. Each category offers its own advantages, so it’s important to take the time to understand their differences and think about which would resonate with your broader brand story before you actually begin to create your own logo.
1. Image-Based Logos
Image-based logos use only a symbol to represent a business. They are either:
Abstract images, like those used by Airbnb, Pepsi, and Microsoft.
Literal images that have been simplified and stylized, like the logos used by Apple, Twitter, and Penguin.
Image-based logos are simple, bold, and instantly evoke the brand. However, they work best with large companies that have built up recognition over time. They aren’t the best choice for small businesses that are just starting out.
2. Text-Based Logos
Text-based logos use either the company name, like the eBay logo, a monogram, like that of Coco Chanel, or an initial, like the ‘W’ used by WordPress.
A text-based logo, using the company name, is a good option for a new business, or a small business with a relatively short name, to get people familiar with your brand. The monogram and initial are not the best choice though, due to lack of brand recognition.
3. Combination Logos
Combination logos, like the logos of Dove, Mastercard (until recently), and Puma incorporate both symbol and text into their design.
Combination logos are probably the most popular logos around. Most companies that use symbols, monograms or initials combine them with text to spell out the name of the company. This makes their logo easier to remember, especially when a company is new and the logo isn’t recognizable on its own. Once a company’s logo gains widespread recognition, the use of text becomes optional. For example, the credit card company Mastercard recently decided to remove its name from its well-known logo of intersecting circles.
Qualities Of A Great Logo
Now that you have a good idea of the different kinds of logos most commonly used by businesses, let’s look at the qualities that make a great logo.
The best logos keep things simple because a simple logo is easy to recognize and remember, and easy to scale up and down without losing quality.
Great logos use fonts, colors and symbols that reflect the image they want their brand to convey. A logo is relevant when it gives viewers a good idea of what a brand is all about.
A logo is an introduction to a business, so it needs to identify and differentiate that business from others, capture a potential customer’s attention, and leave a positive and lasting impression. This is why the best logos are also very memorable.
4. Thoughtful Use of Color
Color catches the eye, evokes emotions, and conveys messages. That’s why brands think carefully about what they want to communicate with the colors they use in their logos.
5. Cautious With Trends
Great logos tend to be classic rather than trendy, so aim to stand the test of time rather than jumping on a trend that may turn out to be transitory.
Logos need to retain their quality, whether they’re scaled down or up to be used in print or on the web, so the best logos are versatile and work in every context.
How to Design a Logo
1. Start With Your Why
Every company has a ‘why’, beyond the obvious one of making money. That ‘why’ could be related to the way the business started, the way it’s run, its philosophy, or something else completely. So creating your own logo starts with your brand identity, and brand identity is rooted in the story your company wants to tell the world about itself.
When we look at the Apple logo, we don’t just see a simplified representation of an apple with a bite taken out of it, we see an innovative and imaginative company that seeks to empower people through technology. That’s Apple’s story—what’s yours?
Take some time to think about why your company does what it does. Who is it there to serve and how? Where will it make a difference? What does it stand for?
What you discover by answering these questions will help to shape the logo design process.
2. If Your Brand Were An Adjective, What Would It Be?
Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start generating ideas for your logo by creating a Logo Design Plan.
Take a large, blank sheet of paper and draw three columns. In the first column, write the first adjectives that come to mind when you think of your business. Think of adjectives that describe your business, its style, and the benefits it offers potential customers. Some potential descriptors may be family-friendly, reliable, organic, vintage, fun, adventurous, etc. If you get stuck, think of this from your customer’s point of view. How would you like them to describe you?
3. Sketch Some Ideas
Move to the second column, where it’s time to sketch some ideas. Don’t worry if you’re not the best artist in the world—the point is to record an idea, not prove you’re a secret Michelangelo. And if you really don’t want to draw, then writing a description of your idea will be enough.
Brainstorm and free associate by sketching ideas you think might best capture your brand and the benefits it offers. Keep things very simple and try all the categories of logos we discussed above: abstract and literal symbols, stylizing the name of your company, using a monogram or initial, and trying a combination of symbol and text. Nothing is off limits at this point.
4. Get Savvy With Color
For this step, you’ll need colored pencils or paint. If you have neither, don’t worry—once again, you can write the name of the color in place of the color itself. If your knowledge of color is sketchy and you feel a bit nervous about this step, read this article on the 10 Best Logo Colour Schemes and then come back to this.
Now that you’ve boned up on color and know the meaning and emotions associated with each tone, pull out your paints or colored pencils and, in the third column on the same sheet of paper, add some color patches to represent the adjectives you chose in the first column. Now add a second color to each. Refer back to the article 10 Best Logo Colour Schemes for ideas on color schemes that work, or check out Adobe Colour CC for more ideas.
5. Find Inspiration
You may be surprised that we haven’t put this step earlier on in the process. The main reason is that it’s always a good idea to start out by trusting your own voice and instincts, before introducing ideas from other sources.
Now is a good time to look to successful brands that you like for some inspiration. Ask yourself:
- What type of logo is it?
- Is the logo memorable? If so, what colors, fonts
- or symbols are used to make the logo stand out?
- What do the combination of colors, fonts and/or symbols communicate about the brand?
- Trustworthiness, innovation, adventure, or something else?
- Is the logo relevant to what the company does?
- What qualities or ideas from these brands can you incorporate into your own design?
Make notes at the bottom of your Logo Design Plan.
Now take a look at the logos of competitor brands. Ask yourself the same questions as above, but at the end of the process, also ask how you can differentiate yourself from these competitors.
6. Get Help
At this stage in your journey, you have a few options. You can go ahead and create your logo on your own, using software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Alternatively, you could seek the help of a professional through an agency, work directly with a freelance designer via Envato Studio, or use an online logo maker. Each option has its pros and cons, and only you can decide which one suits you best, based on your budget, deadlines, and preferences.
If you decide to continue with a design professional, all the hard work you’ve done will stand you in good stead. You’re now in a position to explain clearly what your brand is all about and can use your Logo Design Plan to help guide the designer’s work and increase the odds of a satisfactory outcome.
If you choose to proceed on your own and you don’t have the skills required to work with Illustrator or Photoshop, we recommend using a logo maker like the one at Placeit. A logo maker is a cost effective and low-stress tool that allows businesses or individuals to try out various logo ideas and create your own, quickly and easily.
First, you need to return to your Logo Design Plan and circle up to three adjectives from column one that you think best describe your brand. Now, circle up to three symbols from column two that you feel represent your brand, and from column three, circle two color schemes that you believe best reflect your brand. From your inspiration research, highlight the qualities that you’ll be on the lookout to avoid or embrace. Now you are ready to make the best use of a logo maker to create your own logo.
7. Take Your Design for a Test Drive
Once you’ve followed these steps to create a logo, you need to take your design for a test drive by getting some feedback from potential customers and colleagues. The best way to do this is to use an online mockup tool to add your logo to a few products and share the images with your test group. To make sure you get the most useful feedback, here are a few questions you should ask:
- What does this business do?
- Is your response to this logo positive, negative, or indifferent?
- What about the logo makes you feel this way?
- What does this logo tell you about the business?
- Based on this logo, would you patronize this business?
- Would you remember this logo if you saw it again next week?
- Does it remind you of the logo of another business?
Based on your test group’s response, you either have a winner or you need to go back to the drawing board.
Design Your Own Logo
Designing a unique company logo that works can be challenging, but you now have a process to follow and some tips and techniques you can use to focus in on the most important elements of logo design. So get started today and create a logo using Placeit’s logo maker, or download a template from Envato Elements or Envato Market.