There are numerous high price examples – the one for the 2012 Olympics cost £400k. The BBC spent £1.5m…
I’m not going to justify these high prices, but don’t forget, the designer doesn’t just have to draw a picture, he needs to research, brainstorm, provide potential examples, negotiate with the client, make the logo work in different environments, different backgrounds, different formats and exact sizes and colours. There is a lot to logo design.
So, let’s go. Can you produce your own logo?
Here’s next steps.
There is one program that is used most often for producing logos and that is Adobe Illustrator. The reason is twofold: it has been used for years as the industry standard, and it produces vector format files. What’s a vector format file, Hywel?
Good question, a vector is a graphic which is built from a mathematical formula rather than a picture. A photograph, commonly in JPG format, loses resolution if you blow it up too much. A vector doesn’t; you can blow it up or shrink it, the quality stays perfect. I can promise you that you will very soon regret not designing your logo using a program that produces vectors.
However, there are two reasons why you may not want to use Illustrator – it costs about £20/month and it has a steep learning curve.
So, is there an alternative? Yes.
There are a few in fact but my favourite is Figma. It is free, is much easier to learn than Illustrator and produces vector files – or one at least – SVG. You could also try Canva; another nice and easy program to use.
Grab an account and carry on reading.
I know, I know, thinking is a pain, but, even if you’re not intrinsically creative, you can think about the company and how best the logo –either as a word, picture or combination - can represent the company. Don’t rush it, think in the shower, garden and bedtime…
Doodle like crazy! Lots and lots of ideas, then start choosing your favourites. Whittle it down to one – then create several small variations on that one. Choose your favourite.
Whichever software you have chosen, learn all you can about it. There are dozens of videos online that can help – you may even find some additional inspiration that will help you develop your logo.
First, enter the name of the business. Make it large.
Next, choose the typeface. (A typeface is the name – e.g. Helvetica, the font is the variation e.g. Helvetica Italic.) There are thousands to choose from; check out the built-in typefaces in Figma and Google Fonts – both excellent ways to play around. Google Fonts will allow you to enter the text you want to use, so you will be able to see exactly what it looks like.
(Hint: Figma has a few free addons like Better Font Picker and Font Viewer which shows you what the fonts look like.)
Are you going to change any of the letters? Here you can create a new text element and type in the letter you want or create that letter from scratch. If you want to change the letter, you can alter the size, typeface, position, colour or stroke (the outline of the letter).
Think about the gap between the letters – amazingly enough called Letter Spacing – and also the gap between particular letters – called kerning. This little thing does two things: it should make the word easier to read, and it will make people think this is a professional logo. (They won’t know why but they will!) Kerning is often applied when the gap between two letters – say ‘T’ and ‘e’ could be closer. The ‘e’ can be pulled back so it in the shadow of the ‘T’. Try it; it looks cool.
How many words in your design? If there are more than one, then they don’t have to go on the same line; they can be stacked or offset. (UNIQLO broke that rule; one word but stacked!)
I said don’t use clipart – and I am thinking of those appalling things that come with several Microsoft programs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use other people’s illustrations. There are loads of companies who offer free or cheap icons which are worth their weight in gold if you can’t create your own images from scratch. I use Flaticon who have nearly 8 million icons, logos and stickers for you to choose from.
Many of the decent icon companies allow you to edit the images, if they do, change any colours to match the one(s) you plan to use.
Remember, the image should be:
But, how to place the image? Generally, these follow a simple choice – on the left or centred above. That doesn’t mean you have to follow the trend, but that is what consumers are used to. You could, of course, place the logo in the word itself, in which case, make a space in the word and drop it in. If the image replaces a letter, don’t add the letter it’s replacing too; that looks awkward.
There’s no point in Nike to have a strapline on their logo (Just Do It is rarely a part of it.); we all know what they do, but your company might need a leg up and that’s what the strapline is for. An easy encapsulation of what you can do for the viewer.
Don’t be blasé about this aspect of your logo; it can be more important than the above work. Spend time thinking about this, bounce ideas off friends, colleagues and family because this thing acts as a precis’d mission statement for your clients and staff.
If you are a coffee shop how about Artisan Coffee or World Coffee Company? A light engineering company: Precision Engineering. A tree surgeon: A Cut Above.
(We spent weeks thinking of a great strapline for a children’s forest school camp specialising in natural activities and, in the end a family member suggested ‘Where the Wild Kids Play’. Perfect.)
Placing the strapline is almost always done underneath the words and images above, I can’t think of a reason why you should change this tradition; the logo is the main point, the strapline is the description.
Don’t make the strapline too small, that way it will be unreadable.
The cool thing about creating each element separately – the word, the image and the strapline – is that you can play around with the positioning to your heart’s content.
Once you have created your masterpiece, save the file as (e.g.) “Version 1 – Doodles”, then “Version 2 – Variations” and copy and paste a few versions of it down the page and make adjustments. Press save again. This way you can always go back to earlier versions if you mess up.
Next step: stop. Leave it a few days, think about it, show it to people. They don’t have to be experts, but most people can differentiate a good logo from a bad one. Ask people to be constructive not critical. Don’t take offence if they don’t like it.
Stare at it, then walk away from your screen, can you still see all the elements? Compare it to the best, does it match up? Will you be proud of it tomorrow, next week, next year?
Be hard on yourself, if the logo doesn’t jump out at you, if the image is too small, if things lack clarity, if the writing’s too small – change it. There is nothing worse than having to live with a rubbish logo for years.
Save your file as “Version 3 –Longlist”. (Honest, it’s always a good idea to use descriptive names on your files, you’ll thank me later!)
Save your file again as “Version 4 – Shortlist”. Delete all the logos you don’t want and leave the good one. (Sounds scary? No, you’ve saved them all above. I want you to have one version of the truth and Version 4 is it.)
Now that you have designed your basic logo, there are three further areas you need to address:
Some logos look great on light and dark backgrounds:
Assuming you need two logos, copy and paste two versions of the logo down the page and add a black box under one and a white one under the second. Adapt your designs so you either have one that suits dark and light backgrounds or create two that fulfil those functions.
Remember, the key here is to produce a version of your logo that stands out on any background. This means that you need to make sure there is a decent contrast between the logo and the background. Don’t use light colours on a light background, don’t use dark colours on dark.
Save your work. How about “Version 5 – Background”?
What? You say. Change the shape of my logo?
Yes. There are occasions when it makes sense to use a variation on your logo to suit the application you are using.
Take this fine logo designed by Pinkaters:
It looks cool when used on a letter or invoice, but on a website it looks small:
How about we produce a slightly different variation?
It seems only Google gets away with changing its colours every now and then and generally changing a logo’s colours is considered a blasphemy. But what if your logo is printed on a black and white document?
In those circumstances, say when it is printed on a laser printer, then it’s best if you determine the shades of grey that are used rather than the printer.
Sometimes the three elements of the logo – image, text and strapline are not needed. Create versions without a strapline or even an image.
The final part of your work is to create a resource that you can use every da y and this is generally called Brand Guidelines. This document, created in whichever software you have used, and perhaps saved for general use as a PDF, has all the elements together:
Call this file “Logo” then save it in its native format according to the software you have used: AI for Illustrator, FIG for Figma, and CVX for Canva. These files are the ones you use to give you complete control over all the elements.
Next export each version as an SVG, PNG or EPS file, name each one clearly and keep all the files in the same folder. The reason for multiple file formats is that some software cannot deal with some formats – eg an EPS file.
The exported files can now be used in any application – whether it’s on a letter, website, email address or a poster 48 feet long.
Logos are not set in stone, though, and you now have the ability to update or change any of your designs using the original software you created it with. Small changes can be made to the designs, but major design changes will have their own file.
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