Where to start designing your own logo

By Naomi Gora

There’s a whole bunch of things to consider when designing a logo. There’s business strategy, brand values, personality and pillars, colour palettes, font choice, positioning statements, how the logo will be used, on what mediums and what sizes to name just a few, but if you’ve got all your strategy and background planning down pat and you’re ready to give the actual designing a try on your own, here are my top five principles to guide you on your way to designing a cohesive, memorable, and powerful logo that will help you be noticed, remembered and ultimately singled out by the people who you want to be buying from you…

1. Tell your story but don’t TELL your story:

There’s an elegance to good logo design and it requires telling a story and communicating everything you are in one simple graphic. That doesn’t mean it always has to be literal, in fact, usually it shouldn’t be. If you have a dog walking business, a good logo will get to the core of the key benefit you’re offering your customers and communicate that in a logo that doesn’t necessarily slam an image of a dog all over just like all your competitors do. Get clever, keep digging. Nut out what is the one thing you give your customer that’s different from your competitors and infuse this in your logo design.

2. Think ‘minimise’

In the words of CoCo Chanel,  “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. Logo design follows the same principle. Your logo needs to be the most basic expression of everything you stand for; the essence of what you do. It needs to be flexible, versatile and understood in a milli-second. It needs to be able to appear at multiple sizes, in colour, as well as in black and white. Look at your logo and ask yourself ‘What is the simplest version of my business/brand idea?’ How can I communicate all that I am in the most basic way?’ You’ll still have your brand storytelling, your website and other marketing collateral to get fancy and communicate more of what you do, but when it comes to logo design, once you’ve got it to a point where you’re pretty happy with it, put it away for a day, come back to it and ask yourself ‘Is there anything that’s not essential here? Is there anything I can remove and the logo will still have the same meaning without it?’

3. Be special, petal:

Your logo needs to be unique and stand out from your competitors (If you haven’t already done a competitor analysis, it’s definitely something you should dive into before starting to design your logo). Once you’ve checked out your competitors, copy and paste their logos onto a page together to see how each stands out and how you can stand out amidst them before you start sketching your logo ideas out. When you’ve created your logo, go through the process again to make sure you’re still on track. Better yet, give your logo to some of your potential clients and get them to free associate words with each of them… i.e. Don’t just ask them which ones they like, ask them what each logo says to them, how it makes them feel. Then take the page away and ask them to recall each of the logos. If your logo is among the ones that are remembered, it’s a good sign you’re on the unique logo train to success.

4. Stay away from the cool kids:

When it comes to logos, stay away from trends. Every trend has a life cycle and if there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s for your logo to be stuck in that cycle that ultimately ends in demise and boredom with a thousand other things that sort of look the same. Your logo needs to stand the test of time. It’s sort of like in interior design… keep the walls and structure of a room simple yet built with strength and stability that will last you ten years, and then fill it with lower cost items that you can change with the seasons and tastes (E.g. your product/service offerings and story telling). That logo you like right now with the curly font you keep seeing around? Yeah, it’s popular now but it won’t be in a year. Create a logo design that is unique to your offering not what the rest of the world is doing.

5. Use design principles:

Every piece of design you create for your business should follow the five basic design principles: alignment, repetition, contrast, balance and hierarchy. They’re fairly easy concepts to get your head around, but putting them into practice can be trickier! If you’d like to read more about using design principles, you can check out my article here.

Oh, and one more handy tip… When you’re starting on your logo design, do some hand drawn sketches first, don’t get too tied up in what it should be or that it’s not perfect, you don’t need to be able to draw, it’s all about the ideas behind the drawing. So scribble the crap out of that page… I’ll often do 100 sketches to generate ideas before I work more with just one or two of the best solid ideas I come up with. Then, when you move onto whatever design program you’re using (I use Adobe Creative Suite, which is not free but it is the industry standard) and design only using black and white until you’re happy that you’ve got the composition right, then add colour (from the selection of colours you’ve already decided on in your brand framework) at the end.

And hey presto, you have one shiny new logo!

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