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How Do I Design a Logo?

First and foremost, to design a logo, you need to size up your talents as a designer. If you know next to nothing about graphic design then you should hire a professional designer to create your logo. Effective logo design involves a lot of hard work that can prove to be a challenge for beginners, and it only takes one error or oversight to jeopardize the entire design (take a look at these unsavory logos and you’ll understand). Research graphic designers and thoroughly analyze the logo designs in their portfolios prior to hiring them for your project, and ALWAYS avoid websites that advertise cheap or free logos—if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true! Besides, you wouldn’t want to spend even more money trying to fix or redo a crummy logo, right?

That being said, if you are confident in your design abilities and wish to design your own logo, then you will want to read a few pointers in this article before you proceed.

Colors and Fonts Matter…A LOT!

Colorful logos catch people’s attention, but too much color can compromise your design. What are your company colors (or your desired company colors, if you don’t have any yet)? If you include more than three or four main colors and/or if you include bright, contrasting hues, then you have to be extra careful. Use a Color Scheme Designer to determine eye-pleasing combinations and to weed out potentially-obnoxious color contrasts. For example, a bright green and a bright purple may complement one another in moderation (like in a thin line border) but probably would not be ideal as the main logo colors. However, that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to use bold colors—contrasting colors work as long as you implement them in a way that won’t cause people’s eyes to bleed! Remember that readability and visibility are key aspects for customers to understand your message—what’s the point of even having a logo if people have no idea what it means? No matter what, don’t let your logo’s colors overpower your message.

You should follow similar guidelines when choosing a font for your logo; too many different fonts can be distracting just like too many colors can be distracting. People will probably be confused and stop reading if your logo smashes 4 different fonts (and 4 different font sizes) into one small space. It’s usually best to select one font for your logo in no more than two sizes, but use your best judgment if you absolutely must use two different fonts. Avoid fancy script fonts, complex fonts, or condensed fonts because they will be tougher for people to read (face it, people have short attention spans and usually don’t spend more than a few seconds reading logos). Just a tip: fonts like Comic Sans and Lucida Handwriting have become so overused that they are generally loathed by design-savvy individuals, so use caution. Also, you should consider the primary message of your company when choosing a font—it would be silly for a tattoo parlor to use a flowing script or for a florist to use a bold, jagged type. Check out “
23 Really Bad Font Choices? by Douglas Bonneville for some excellent examples of what NOT to do with your fonts!

Logo Lounge is another great resource to consult in your logo-design process. This site allows you to research logo trends by year and to analyze popular colors, shapes, and designs.

Not all Design Programs are Created Equal

Use Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw if you are designing your own logo, because both programs allow you to create a vectored graphic that will not lose resolution no matter how much it’s sized up or sized down. (To read all about vector art and why it’s crucial to design, read “Vector Artwork 101: A Beginner’s Guide). Logos designed in Adobe Photoshop are called raster graphics, which become pixilated as the size is changed, and they are not recommended for logo design because they cannot be altered beyond a certain ratio without appearing grainy or warped. Vector graphics, though, can be resized from the size of a postcard to the size of a billboard without losing any definition or resolution of the image, which makes them extremely versatile! Don’t skimp on your design program or try to squeak by with a low-quality logo or it could hurt your credibility in the long run. It is possible to convert an existing logo into a vectored format, but you’d need to contact a graphic designer to do so (read our vector guide for more details).

Why Do You Need a Logo, Anyway?

Maybe this time you need a logo for an online advertisement or for company letterhead, but will that be the only time you’ll need to use it? What if, in the future, you decide to buy billboard spaces or purchase promotional items that also require your logo? Test how your logo appears by resizing it from 1000% size down to 10% size—sometimes, overly-detailed graphics do not look good when they’re small enough to fit on a pen or on a keychain. Make sure that your logo is crisp and readable even when it’s sized down to a small percentage (this shouldn’t be a problem if your graphic is vectored) and, if necessary, make some changes to your logo before spending money on printing.

Please note that it’s also important to be flexible when having your logo printed on promotional items. Many products can only be imprinted with a single color, so you may have to consider a different product if the logo doesn’t make sense without every color! Multi-colored imprints are available on many items but they can be more expensive. Some companies choose to have both a one-color version of a logo and a black and white version of a logo on hand in addition to the full-color version –this will save time and money if and when the logo is printed on promotional products.

However, just remember to use caution if you choose to create different versions of your logo. If you want your branding efforts to be successful, then your logo should remain consistent throughout all communication mediums; this consistency should be maintained with the logo itself, the slogan, the colors, and the fonts. Well-established corporations like McDonald’s or JPMorgan Chase may be able to get away with logo or slogan changes, but it’s not recommended otherwise. Imagine how confused your customers and potential customers would be if you suddenly changed the design and the fonts used in your logo! You should remain consistent if you want people to recognize your brand time and time again.

Have Fun!

As long as you follow a few basic logo-design rules, you shouldn’t be afraid to have fun when creating your company’s logo. Use common sense, try not to be too trendy or risqué, and remember that there is no shame in consulting a professional graphic designer if the project proves too difficult! If you have any questions about what your logo would look like when printed on promotional items, then contact Quality Logo Products for more information.

This article is only a brief overview of what to consider when creating a logo—here are a few more aspects you may want to consider before you begin the design process:

Target Demographic (What logo would attract your audience?)
Word Meanings (Don’t accidentally include an offensive word in your logo)
Printability (Avoid stylish drop-shadows or outlines that would be hard to read when re-sized)
Simplicity (Simple logos are usually better, but too simple can be boring)
Copyright (NEVER copy another company’s logo, and don’t use stock clip art)
Timelessness (Don’t get too trendy or you could turn off future customers)

Article By Jill Tooley
Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. In addition to managing the QLP blog, Jill also manages the content development team, assists with the company’s social media accounts, and writes like a fiend whenever given the chance. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

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