A great logo is instantly recognizable, memorable, and closely connected to your brand’s core values and ideas. Think of iconic logos like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Nike. Logos like these are simple and elegant yet bold enough to leave a lasting impression.
When designing your logo, you can make a powerful impact on how your brand is perceived. Designing a timeless logo is challenging, but we’re here to help. To get your logo right, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of your market, buyer personas, and your company’s ethos.
Ready to dive in?
Read on for logo design best practices, helpful tools, and a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect logo.
Table of Contents
Types of Logos
With millions of logos worldwide, you may be surprised that they all fit into one of seven main categories.
Each logo type has its characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, so choose the variety that best aligns with your brand values and goals when designing your logo.
Wordmarks are text-based logos that use font selection, typography, and color to turn the brand name into a logo. Wordmarks often work well with companies with unique, catchy names, such as Google, Coca-Cola, and Disney.
Easy to incorporate into other design assets
It can be challenging to create a unique, memorable logo with only text
Not suited for longer or less unique company names
Mascot logos typically involve an illustrated character to create a fun, cartoonish, and friendly personification of a brand. Brands that choose to go with a mascot logo usually seek a light-hearted and family-friendly image.
Other examples of brand mascots include the Kool-Aid Man, Mr. Peanut, and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Mascots are inviting and approachable, which helps cultivate a family-friendly brand image
Allows for a high level of control over brand storytelling
Not suitable for brands with a serious or corporate image
It can be complex from a design perspective, making reproduction at smaller sizes a challenge
The first step to designing your logo is understanding your brand. Before you think about opening Canva or starting a sketch, you must pinpoint your brand’s story and the specific values and emotions you want to synthesize in your logo.
This process involves the exploration of your target audience, your buyer personas, and, most importantly, how you want people to feel when they perceive your logo.
“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” – Paula Scher
Graphic design icon Paula Scher hits the nail on the head with the above quote.
Distilling your brand story into a logo will be a challenge, and you should expect mistakes along the way. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore when conceiving a logo that matches your brand.
2. Brainstorm words that describe your brand.
Use tools like Thesaurus.com to discover synonyms and other words that describe your brand’s central theme. Aim to choose five to ten words that best describe your brand’s ethos and use them to guide your logo design.
For example, if you‘re in the clothing industry, you might simply type in “clothing.” You’d be surprised by how descriptive the synonyms are that appear.
ou can even click these results to start new searches and dig deeper as you zero in on the words that best capture your brand.
Now is the time to create some rough sketches. Allow your brand story and keywords to guide you and make some initial logo ideas.
Remember, these are your first drafts. The important thing is to get the ideas out of your head and onto the paper, so trust the process and just let the ideas flow. You’ll have the opportunity to refine your ideas later.
“The beauty of a first draft lies in its imperfections; it’s the starting point for refining ideas and finding the perfect balance.” – David Airey
As you’re sketching the concepts for your logo, keep these tips in mind:
Keep the shape simple. You’re in good shape if you can sketch the most symbolic components in seven seconds or less.
Avoid any popular clip-art artwork or generic symbols like a globe, star, or similar icons that people too quickly identify from other places.
Be strategic about your use of color. Consider today’s color trends as well as popular colors in your industry. As a general rule, don’t choose more than three colors. Choose a color or group of colors that will make you stand out from your competition, but please, for the love of marketing, don’t use the whole rainbow!
4. Choose a sketch and refine it.
Now that you have some sketches, pick the one that speaks to you most and put on your thinking cap.
Make a deep effort to reflect on your brainstorming words and brand story and visualize your thoughts. Use your mental efforts to refine your logo sketch into a meaningful, deep, relatable design that ties back to your brand’s core values.
Easier said than done, but this is where the heavy lifting comes in.
5. Develop your logo’s layout on a free design platform.
If you’ve been working on paper until now, now is the time to bring your design to the computer and create a layout. Your logo layout is how individual elements of your logo are organized and positioned in relation to each other.
Here are some free tools you can use to scan your sketch and start creating a layout:
Proper alignment of your logo is the key here. Your logo doesn’t need to be perfectly symmetrical, but it should appear visually balanced.
“Whitespace is like air: it is necessary for design to breathe.” – Wojciech Zieliński
The whitespace between different elements of your logo is the unsung hero of your design and the secret you must uncover in this step of the process.
Strive for a crisp, balanced logo where everything feels like it’s in the right place. If your design looks great in black and white, then you know you have a well-balanced logo.
6. Choose your colors.
The color palette you choose for your logo says a lot about your brand.
“When you choose a new color palette, 60% of the palette should be dedicated to one color (usually, it’s a neutral color), another (complementary) color makes up 30% of the palette, and a third color (accent) is used for the remaining 10% of the design.” – Nick Babich
Product designer Nick Babich drops some wisdom about the three-color rule in design. You don’t need to choose multiple colors for your logo, but if you decide to go the multicolor route, keep everything harmonious by following this design principle.
7. Choose a font.
Now it’s time to combine text with imagery.
Consider the typeface this text will carry if your company name ever stands without your logo. If you decide on a wordmark or lettermark logo as opposed to a symbol, your font choice is even more crucial.
Believe it or not, your font choice can say a lot about your business. You can choose a font that’s either serif (with stems on each letter) or sans serif (no stems) — also known as classic or modern, respectively.
Stay away from generic fonts that come standard on every word processor. Some examples of generic fonts are Times New Roman, Lucida Handwriting, and Comic Sans. These fonts will only work against you and your company by making you less memorable.
“Display type is a visual voice. Without reading, it imparts its message.” – Laura Worthington
Designer and typography guru Laura Worthington hits the nail on the head regarding the importance of font selection. Your font choice goes beyond just conveying information as text; it is a crucial aspect of your design.
8. Ensure scalability.
Logos are meant to represent your company on multiple platforms — in print, on your website, on each of your social media business pages, and across the internet as your business grows.
You want a logo that can be blown up super large for a billboard or scaled down for screening onto the side of a pen.
Every part of your logo should be legible, regardless of the logo’s size.
9. Get feedback.
“There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
Once you feel your logo design is ready, consider sharing it with others and seeking constructive feedback.
Of course, you can seek input at any point in the process, but it is precious to get people’s reactions to your realized vision and reiterate from there.
Whew — still with us? We know this might seem a little overwhelming, but take it slow and don’t rush yourself.
It’s better to follow the process through to completion and end with a remarkable logo than to start over a few months later due to a design error or change of heart.
Once you’ve completed your logo, how can you tell if you scored a winner? Easy: Use our Logo Grader to assess the sustainability and effectiveness of your new logo.
Logo Design Best Practices
1. Keep it simple.
Simplicity is key in logo design. Aim for a clean, uncluttered design that communicates your brand identity as straightforwardly as possible. The goal is for viewers to recognize and understand your logo instantly.
Take Nike’s logo, for example. Its simplicity makes it iconic. There’s a reason they haven’t updated it since 1995.
2. Prioritize versatility.
Your logo should be versatile enough to work across various backgrounds and colors. Test your logo against multiple backgrounds and mediums to ensure legibility and clarity in all possible scenarios.
That means you should have alternate color palettes and logo orientations to suit any situation.
3. Design for your audience.
Your logo design should be consistent with how you perceive your brand and how your customers already perceive it.
You must consider your target audience’s buyer persona by researching their demographics and interests. Only then can you serve their expectations and needs in your design.
4. Be original.
Standing out from the pack is essential. Today, almost every market is saturated with competition and options. The design of your logo is as vital to carving out your niche as creating a unique value proposition.
Avoid generic logo designs and cliché symbols that are easily spotted elsewhere. For example, globe-based logos are a dime a dozen:
5. Be timeless.
Your logo should be iconic and timeless. Easy enough, right? Epochal logos like Coca-Cola’s are as rare as they are significant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t aim for a timeless logo as well.
A timeless logo means that it will never go out of style.
One way to ensure that is to steer clear of today’s hottest design trends (which will go out of style sooner or later). Instead, opt for a simple, classic design that would be comfortable representing your brand for years to come.
Canva is an all-in-one, web-based graphic design tool that you can use to design anything you can think of, including logos. Anybody can use Canva’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface and extensive library of templates and design assets.
Best for: Beginner designers and small business owners who desire a hands-on approach to logo creation.
Pricing: Free plans are available. Canva pro costs $12.99 monthly. Canva teams costs $14.99 monthly for up to five users.
Hatchful is a fast and easy-to-use logo-maker tool from Shopify. The tool will ask you questions about your company’s industry, preferred visual style, brand name, and where you expect to use the logo (print, digital, etc.).
Using the provided information, Hatchful will automatically generate a slew of logo options, which you can select and further customize.
Best for: Entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to create a high-quality logo with minimal design effort quickly.
Squarespace’s logo creator tool lets you quickly generate a clean-looking logo for your business. The logos that this tool empowers you to create are consistent with the modern and minimal aesthetic that Squarespace is known for.
Input your business name, and Squarespace allows you to serve it up in a beautiful font alongside an icon of your choice. The tool has thousands of vectorized icons and a curated selection of high-quality fonts.
Best for: Entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to quickly create a clean, minimal logo.