“Perfection is reached, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
In the old west, they’d stab a cow with a glowing piece of iron shaped in the owner’s crest. The resulting scar tissue identified to whom it belonged.
You have to do the same. Don’t scar your stuff. Instead, design a logo that allows people to identify your brand.
A logo combines typography (letters) and images (pictures) to into an image that represents your brand.
The logo – like the name – should be carefully considered. The entire mood of your brand should be evoked upon seeing it.
Of course, it takes time and money before your audience associates your logo with your brand. But you can speed up this process if you make the right choices.
Ideally, the logo is your brand promise, visualized.
You’ve got a very short time to make an impression. But a good logo can help you stand out and convey your brand promise in an instant.
In this chapter, we’ll cover the steps to design a powerful logo.
Step 1: Choose a logo type
These are the 7 different logo types used by the world’s brands.
I can’t print famous logos without getting sued, so I’ll illustrate them with fictitious examples.
Step 2: Find inspiration for your logo
You saw that in each logo variation I added an (abstract) representation of the brand promise: wildly expensive but great quality steaks. No matter your logo style:
You need logo elements that communicate the brand promise.
As in the above examples, these can be icons, graphics, mascots or those vomit-stained doodles from when you came up with your business idea – at midnight after a drinking binge. But keep in mind:
Logos are hard to change, so being specific is limiting as a brand evolves.
For example, if you sell bags and your logo contains a bag, that’s fine. But if you move into shoes, the bag won’t cover your brand promise anymore. So there’s a clear trade-off to make:
Be specific to immediately convey the brand promise, or be vague to remain flexible.
So let’s dig up some inspiration.
- Select some ready-made logos. Browse sites with logo templates and enter the keyword that is most relevant to your business, like “cow”.
- There are rich collections online where you can find icons that can represent your brand promise, like “steak”.
- Mascots are called “characters” in design land. You can source these illustrations at any major stock photo site .
- Get some quality free fonts licensed for commercial work . Read about fonts before you select something inappropriate.
- For colors, check out your own mood board and read the chapter on colors.
Paste everything you found in a PowerPoint (.PPT) for future reference and call it “Logo Inspiration”. Do not forget to add the links to the locations of your diamonds.
Step 3: Source your logo
By now, you should have all the necessary ingredients for a powerful logo. Or at least a logo which doesn’t suck:
- Some (basic) knowledge about your
- One or more favorite logo
- A brand
- A slogan (or war cry).
- Inspiration for graphics, icons or
Now it’s time to make it happen.
Option I: Do it yourself.
Keep sketching until you come up with something worth converting to digital form. But what if you don’t have any (digital) drawing skills? Don’t panic. Most people couldn’t draw a proper stickman at gunpoint.
You have to be clever in another way. Let’s look at the other ways of sourcing a logo.
Option II: Online logo maker ($10 – $50)
If you are truly down on your luck, and your poverty in ambition is equaled only by your actual poverty, you can try talking to a machine and see what it comes up with. Google one and let it regurgitate your own input for a small amount of money.
Option III: Pay someone ($30 – $100.000)
The old-fashioned way. You brief someone with the above ingredients at a Freelancer site and she’ll get to work. If you tap an agency or other creative strategists (like me) for the job it might set you back a fair bit, so measure your budget.
Also, if you are unhappy with the work, you’ll have nothing but a worthless scribble and a fat invoice. Designers are humans and humans have uninspired days, so past performance is no guarantee for future returns.
Option IV: Put out a competition ($300 – $700)
You can pay a website to put out a competition. This is a great way to get a lot of designs for little money.
You can dismiss the designs you dislike and get new iterations on the ones you do. Be detailed in your brief, for the ancient adage “sh*t in, sh*it out”, holds very true here.
Option V: Buy one ($15 – $350)
The easiest and cheapest way to procure your logo is to buy one from a design database . You will own all the rights, and so does anybody else who buys them.
Your uniqueness will suffer but you’re up and running within a minute. Naturally, you can change some colors and shapes around to give it your own flavor, all at little to no cost.
Option VI: Combined approach
Needless to say, the creative process is open for a combination of these options. You can build a briefing by writing out a competition, and give the best results to a designer, doing it yourself when all else fails.
There were the options to source your logo. For every option goes:
The more invested you are in the process, the more likely you get results.
Step 4: Choose the logo preferred by your audience
Preferably, you end up with multiple logo’s to choose from. The designer will always be biased towards his own work – and you are too invested in the process to offer unbiased judgment. So let’s test which logo works best.
Use a tool to do a preference test.
Some suggested questions:
- Which design do you prefer?
- Which design looks most [insert brand promise like trustworthiness]?
- What do you like / dislike?
The preference of the audience should outweigh personal preferences.
Step 5: Present your logo (Optional)
When presenting your choices, it helps to have a mockup . These are pictures which contain placeholders for your logo.
It helps people imagine how your logo looks in a piece of context like a product or a business card.
For example, a mockup of a logo can show a picture of a business card with your logo rendered on it.
Step 6: Finalize your logo
Did you settle on a logo? Nice! Now it’s time to finalize and save your work.
A. Get a version of your logo with negative
This allows you to put the logo on colored or black backgrounds, increasing its flexibility.
B. Get a horizontal and a vertical version of your
You can now use your logo in every space, be it a website header (horizontal version) and your restaurant menu (vertical version).
C. Get a vector image of your logo in each color
All your logos should be delivered as a vector image (.AI or .EPS). These are infinitely scalable and usable for your entire Brand Experience.
Summary and steps for designing a powerful logo
A logo allows your audience to identify your brand. It can be specific to immediately convey the brand promise or be vague to remain flexible. There are 7 different logo types, each used by the world’s biggest brands.
Step 1: Choose a type of logo.
Step 2: Find inspiration for your logo.
Step 3: Source your logo.
- Do it yourself
- Online logo maker ($10 – $50)
- Pay someone ($30 – $100.000)
- Put out a competition ($300 – $700)
- Buy one ($15 – $350)
- Combined approach
Step 4: Choose the logo preferred by your audience.
Step 5: Present your logo (Optional)
Step 6: Finalize your logo.
- Get a version with negative
- Get a horizontal and a vertical
- Get a vector
Save your work. Put the logos in a folder called “/brandname/identity/logo”.
Include both the vector images (.AI / .EPS) as rasterized images with transparent background in high resolution (.PNG).