- How to design a logo: the golden rules
- How to implement your logo design
You don't learn to design a logo overnight. It requires a theoretical foundation, creative ability, patience, and a trained eye that comes from a lot of practice. Designers gain experience working with a variety of different clients and go through numerous iterations to develop the skills necessary to forge and refine a strong brand identity.
The right logo is recognizable and memorable. Combined with the right product, it can become an invaluable asset—think Nike's Swoosh, McDonald's golden arches, and Michelin man. But logo designs like this don't happen by accident. But anyone can take a step forward by learning the golden rules of logo design, which must be adhered to before they are broken.
The most successful logo designs share features that can help us learn how to design our own logo or a logo for a brand we work for. In the guide below, we've broken things down into 15 golden rules for designing a logo, from conception to execution.
Starting with the first, let's first look at how to design a logo from scratch using David Airey's 10 Rules for the Perfect Logo. We then move on to successfully implementing a design as part of a broader brand strategy with advice from brand content strategist Nick Carson.
If you need the right tools to create your logo design, check out our selectionThe best graphic design software.. And if you need more advice, don't miss our summary ofLogo-Design-Inspiration, our choice ofThe best 3 letter logosof all time and our 11 recommended steps to create onebest logos. If you're looking to expand your design skills to cover the burgeoning areas of UX and UI design, sign up for our online website.UX Design Fundamentals Course(opens in a new tab).
Why learn to design a logo?
First, let's remember why logo design is so important. A logo is often the first trademark a potential customer sees. It is also usually the piece that impresses us the most and stays with us the longest (if successful). A logo can tell us a lot about a brand, including (sometimes) what it does and what it stands for. When consumers make an association with a logo design, they are often more inclined to invest their time or money in the company or product.
Logo design is by no means the only element of a successful brand, but it should be considered from the outset as it is often at the center of the overall brand strategy. And while most designers can create a reasonably decent logo, it takes a special combination of design skills, creative theory, and skillful application to create a logo design that is truly unique, compelling, and memorable. Take a look at our selection ofbest logosfor instance.
How to design a logo: the golden rules
Hundreds, even thousands, of brands compete for our attention, and that means brands need to differentiate themselves visually. This differentiation is achieved through brand identity design, a set of elements that work together to create a distinctive brand image in our minds. Brand identity design can include everything from uniforms, vehicle graphics, business cards, product packaging, mailers, and coffee mugs and other collateral to photo styles and font choices.
When you think of a person who has impacted your life in some way, you can probably imagine what they are like. The same applies to brands. And a logo acts as the face of a brand, allowing people to connect with and remember it. Therefore, the goal of logo design should be to create something that people can easily imagine when thinking about their experience with a product, company, or service.
When we look at something, we see the shape and color before reading. Only when that is enough to get our attention do we start reading. Designers' job is to distill the essence of a brand into the shape and color that is most likely to endure. under the designersdavid airy(opens in a new tab)offers his 10 Golden Rules of Logo Design to help you with that.
01. Do the basic work
One of the most interesting aspects of being a designer is that you learn new things with each project. Every client is different, and even in the same profession, people do their jobs in different ways. Logo design should start with some groundwork. Knowing the client and their product well will help you choose the strongest design direction and make it easier to come to a consensus on your logo design later on.
Be sure to ask your client why they exist. What are they doing and how are they doing it? What sets you apart from other brands? Who are they for and what is most important to them? Some of these questions may seem simple and unnecessary, but they can be difficult to answer and lead to more questions about your customers' businesses. What you discover in this early phase of a project can really help ensure that you don't miss out on the market when you start developing your logo design.
02. Start with a sketch pad
With the many digital tools available today, you may want to go straight to your computer to create a logo design, but using a sketchpad gives you a chance to rest your eyes from the glare of illuminated pixels and, what It is more important, a lot of design. ideas are recorded more quickly and freely. With no digital interface in the way, you're free to explore, and if you wake up at night with an idea you don't want to lose, a pen and paper by your bed is still the best way to jot it down.
Drawing makes it easy to place shapes exactly where you want them - there's always time to digitize your marks later (see ourtips for drawingfor more tips). It can also be helpful to share some sketches when describing design ideas to clients before digitizing a brand. This can make it easy for them to see the result without the distraction of fonts and colors, which can sometimes make clients dismiss an entire idea. However, don't share too much; only your best ideas.
03. Start in black and white
As we mentioned earlier, color is an important part of branding, but it can sometimes be distracting and make it difficult for a client to keep in mind the basic concept of the logo. Deselecting the color later in the process allows you to focus on the idea of your logo design itself, rather than an element that is usually much easier to change.
It's impossible to save a bad idea with an interesting palette, but a good idea is still a good one, regardless of the color. In most cases, when you think of a familiar symbol, you think of the shape first, then the palette. What matters most are the lines, the shapes and the idea itself, be it a bite of apple, three parallel stripes, four circles connected in a horizontal line or whatever.
04. Make sure your design is relevant
The design of a logo must be relevant to the ideas, values and activities it represents. A fancy font is better suited to a fancy restaurant than a child's room. Similarly, a palette of fluorescent pink and yellow is unlikely to help your message appeal to retired men. And making a sign that looks like a swastika, regardless of industry, just isn't going to work.
You know these things and they may seem pretty obvious, but the adequacy goes beyond that. The more appropriate your rationale is to a particular design, the easier it will be to sell the idea to a client (and this can be the hardest part of a (Remember, designers don't just design. They sell too).
05. Create a design that is easy to remember
A good logo design is memorable and allows a brand to stay in the mind of a potential customer despite competition from other brands for their attention. How can you get this? Simplicity should be your watchword here. A really simple logo is often recognizable at a glance, which is not possible with an overly detailed design.
A brand needs to focus on a concept; in a single "story". In most cases, this means that it should have a simple shape so that it can work in different sizes and in a variety of applications, from a website icon in a browser bar to signage on a building.
06. Strive to be different
When all of a brand's competitors use the same type style, palette, or icon to the left of the brand name, it's the perfect opportunity to differentiate your customer rather than confuse them. Doing something different can really help your logo design stand out.
However, such similarity in the market does not necessarily mean that your job has become easier. It often takes a brave client to defy a trend they see around them. However, showing imagination in your design portfolio is a great way to attract the type of client you want, and demonstrating the appropriateness of your concept can help alleviate any concerns.
07. Consider the broader brand identity
We don't usually see a logo in isolation. It usually comes in the context of a website, a poster, a business card, an app icon, or all sorts of other tools and apps. A customer presentation should include relevant touch points to show how the logo will look to potential customers. It's a bit like being stuck in a rut: It can help to take a step back, look at the big picture, see where you are and what's around you.
From a design perspective, the big picture is every potential element your logo design could appear on. Always consider how the identity works when the logo is not there. While very important, a symbol can only assume one identity so far. One way to create a cohesive look is to create a custom font for your logo. This font can also be used in marketing headlines.
08. Don't be too literal
A logo doesn't have to show what a company does; In fact, it is often better if this is not the case. The more abstract signs tend to be more permanent. You used to show your factory, or maybe a coat of arms if it was a family business, but the symbols don't show what you're doing. Instead, they make it clear who you are. The importance of the brand in the eyes of the public comes later, when associations can be made between what the company does and the shape and color of its brand.
09. Remember that symbols are not essential
A logo does not always have to be a symbol. Often a custom wordmark can work well, especially when the company name is unique – think Google, Mobil or Pirelli. Don't be tempted to exaggerate the design style just because the focus is on the lettering. Readability is key with any wordmark, and your submissions should show how your designs work across all sizes, large and small.
Of course, sometimes words just don't work in very small applications, so variations may be needed. This can be as simple as removing a letter mark from the logo and using the same color, or it can include an icon to use as a secondary design element (wordmark first, icon second) instead of a logo lockout, where both parts are shown side by side.
10. Make people smile
Adding a bit of ingenuity to your logo design doesn't just make your job more fun; You can also help your client to be more successful. It's not for all brands or all industries (it certainly doesn't make sense for gun manufacturers and tobacco companies, but whether you choose to work with those companies is another matter). However, the slightly less contentious legal and financial sectors are full of companies characterized by a stifling and sterile brand. Adding a bit of humor to the identity of such customers can help set them apart.
It is important to strike a balance. Go too far and you risk scaring away potential customers. However, regardless of the company, people do business with people, so the human and emotional side of your job will always be relevant.
How to implement your logo design
So you have a finished logo design, now how do you apply it? Logo design does not exist in isolation. Once you've perfected your design, the final phase is to bring it to life as part of a larger branding scheme.nick carson(opens in a new tab)offers five logo design tips to help you get through this crucial final stage.
11. Always seek a second opinion
Don't underestimate the value of a second (or third) pair of eyes to identify things you may have missed during the design phase. It's surprising how easy it is to overlook potential cultural misunderstandings.unfortunate waysor allusions, words and unintended meanings (see ourLogo design failsfor instance).
Once you have your logo design concept in place, always take the time to review it with other people. Many design studios advocate posting work-in-progress on the walls to allow for constant peer review. It is often easier to notice something on paper than on a screen. If you are an individual freelancer, try to find some trusted colleagues who will keep an eye on your work and, of course, reciprocate. And remember to check how it looks from all angles and on straps of different shapes.
12. Develop the rest of the brand scheme
A logo design is only one small component of a brand scheme and should be developed alongside other trigger points as part of a larger "brand universe". This term is an integral part of the London agency branding process.Someone.(opens in a new tab)As co-founder Simon Manchipp points out in the video interview with Computer Arts magazine above, achieving consistency between different elements is much better than just consistency. "Constancy is solitary confinement, the same thing every day," he laments. "Cohesive is different: a more flexible and intelligent way of doing things."
13. Bring your logo design to life
In the modern branding market, a static logo sitting quietly in the corner of a finished design is often not enough anymore. You need to think about how your logo design could come to life in motion for digital applications. This may require working with animation or motion graphics specialists to explore the potential.
Here are some examples of logos brought to life through animation: First, Sagmeister & Walsh's Function Engineering, which gives the logo a playful, Meccano-esque twist. Sagmeister & Walsh is no more, but you can see our history in Jessica Walsh's studio.
Second, this logo design for the Helsinki University of the Arts byunion(opens in a new tab), bends, twists, and distorts to enhance the dynamic, modern feel of the written logo.
As VR trends evolve, the most advanced immersive brand experiences become more accessible. Branding agencies have also explored the potential of generative design and user engagement to introduce a much more dynamic and unpredictable component to logo design. It's not always possible, but it's good to keep an open mind and experiment with new techniques whenever you can.
14. Help your client launch their logo design
Giving away the finished logo design and letting the brand use it however they see fit can be a recipe for disaster. You should try to provide the client with a style guide that gives clear and comprehensive guidelines on how they should (and shouldn't) use your logo design. This should cover everything from color choices to the minimum and maximum sizes logo designs should be used at, positioning rules, spacing (including exclusion zones of other design elements), and any non- not definitive like stretch or distort.
look at our favoritestyle guidesto see how it's done. Some agencies rely on style guides to ensure smooth and consistent transfer to a client's internal team, but others find they can be too restrictive and prescriptive. Either way, your client will need guidance on how to apply the logo design to ensure it works as intended.
15. Accept public criticism of your logo design
In the age of social media, every man and every dog has an opinion on every logo design out there. Criticism is no longer an occasional annoyance or something that can only come from professionals. Anyone working on a relatively high-profile rebranding exercise needs to be prepared.
As we mentioned earlier, there is much more to a great branding scheme than just a logo design, but on platforms like Twitter, when a newly launched project is often summed up with a single image, the logo is usually the first (and only) one. thing that the public is jumping. This is something you must accept as inevitable.
Based in LondonDesign studio(opens in a new tab)he has experienced such a setback on several occasions, including with his work for Airbnb and the Premier League. In the video above, its former executive creative director James Hurst, now global creative director at Pinterest, explains how the studio has dealt with criticism on social media.
Another example of how to deal with and even capitalize on the growing public interest in logo design is the case of Mozilla.johnson banks(opens in a new tab)used public feedback in the design process itself through very ambitious and completely open codeMozilla brand identity rebranding. The project involved the public at key stages and allowed the public to guide the chosen creative paths. Firefox also took a similar path in 2018 and asked the public to do the same.Help choose your new logo.
Of course, a designer must also keep in mind that the initial public reaction is not always a measure of a logo's long-term success. Be tough: take valuable feedback into account and let the rest wash over you.
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A logo and brand identity specialist, David is the author of the best-selling design books Logo Design Love and Work for Money, Design for Love and runs several design blogs, including Logo Design Love. Past clients include BBC, Ecometrica and Henri Ehrhart.
With contributions from
- georgia coggan
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