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A Free Guide for helping you Design a Logo!
So, you’ve got your brand name picked out for your business or website, but now you need a logo designed! Where to start? Well, if you don’t have much in the way of art or graphic design skills, you’ll most likely have to hire a designer, but there is still a lot you can do on your own to get ideas and a head start on the design process!
First of all, if your mind is drawing a blank, Get Inspired! Do some searches on the industry you’re going into, such as “travel blog logos”, then pick out ones you really like. Or just logos you like in general, they don’t have to be in your field. You can collect and save them in a folder on your computer, or a private board on Pinterest-any place you can easily reference them all. It also helps to see what your competition is doing.
Keep in mind, this isn’t so you can copy them, but to get an idea for the styles of art you like, the fonts, shapes, colors, and imagery. We see logos all the time so they’re going to influence us even if we think they don’t. So pick out the things in other logos you like and keep them in mind or write them down.
So what you want to think about is the overall general feel you want to get from your logo. You may even get the correct feeling just from reading the title if it’s descriptive enough! Jot your ideas down.
Some examples could be:
- Classy City Lover with a focus on a specific place.
- Nature inspired, lots of greens and browns, maybe forest themed with a simple font.
- Fun and very colorful, with a good solid image of a character or mascot, maybe warm tone colors, or reds.
- Light-hearted, feminine, bright or pastel colored, small image or perhaps just design elements.
For my own logo, Camera & a Canvas, my general thoughts and feelings on it were: Fun and art oriented, with a bit of nature since I’m focusing on parks and natural places around the world, and I want something to do with travel in there. I like blues and greens for colors.
Elements of a Logo
I’ve broken down a logo into 4 main elements: Imagery, Fonts, Colors, Shape.
All of these work together, and as a designer, I tend to work on them with the whole in mind if I’m doing it from scratch. Meaning, I will make some initial choices for each element, and then switch them around as needed.
So, I may pick a big bold font to start with, with a world map as my main image, blue and gold as the colors, and perhaps a long rectangle for the overall layout/shape. Then I may think, oh maybe a square shape will work better, so I’ll change it to that. Perhaps a different font will make it pop out more, etc…
The reason I’m bringing this up is because I’ll go over each of these elements below, but there isn’t a particular order in which they should be done, as they all depend on each other to make the whole. So your initial thoughts and ideas that we spoke about above may change.
If you want your logo to be more than just text, then you’re going to need an image or design to go along with it. Maybe you already thought of images or a mascot you’d like to have in your idea process-that’s great! Write them all down! It’s good to have multiple ideas because sometimes one may not work out the way you expected(it may be too big, or too small, or perhaps just doesn’t fit with the text you have in the end), so you may have to try a few.
Ask yourself if you want the imagery to be complex, or something very simple.
Something complex would be an animal mascot done more realistically with many colors. A more simple version of that could be a 3 color cartoon animal.
Something very simple can be a colored circle behind your brand name, or maybe some triangles or lines on the side. There are all sorts of design elements you can use!
What if I don’t want any images?
That’s fine! Logos do not have to have a specific image associated with them. You can use just text! In this case, the font you choose will become even more important. Also a lot of logos that are “text only” can still have some simple design elements with them just to make them pop out a bit more.
Example with my logo:
Camera & a Canvas – Definitely artsy, and a bit of fun comes to mind. I have 2 words in there that are distinct images as well. So I can use the obvious(a camera or a canvas) as an image, or think of other things…hmm…a paint palette, paint brush perhaps? Camera lens?
I then have the tag line “Exploring the World…” up top. Both those words bring up the images of a compass and world map, or globe to my mind, and fits really well with a travel blog. (Yes I know, tons of travel blogs or travel agencies have globes/maps…but, it’s ok to use common imagery like this if you want. You’ll make it your own by incorporating it into your logo in a unique way, so don’t worry!)
*Note, my banner image above with the Mountain Goat and Squirrel came later. They are not so much a part of the logo as they are additions to the banner, to brighten it up and bring more of the cheerful, fun style I’m going for. So they are in a way “mascots”, but just not a part of the main logo design.
You’re going to need a font! Sometimes even 2!
How do you pick out the fonts you want for the text in your logo? Well first, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the different styles of fonts out there:
- Serif – See those fancy little “hooks” at the ends of the letters? That’s a serif. The standard font on everyone’s computer “Times New Roman” is a Serif font. These are good If you want a more classic, clean, and clear style.
- Sans Serif – Is any font without serifs! (The word “sans” means without in French) If you’re looking for simple and easy to read, try these.
- Script – Want a handwritten or fancy look? Then try a script font. I’d be careful with these however, as you want to keep the text in your logo very legible, easy to read! So if you do pick a script font make sure you can easily distinguish all the letters.
- BIG & BOLD – I tend to put bold fonts in a class all their own, even though you can make any font “bold” technically. There are certain fonts out there though that are just IN YOUR FACE! You can’t miss them, and that’s good if you’re looking for a powerful style!
Next, open up any program you use to view the fonts on your computer(usually a word processor), AND/OR check out free font websites! Most likely, unless you’re a graphic designer, you probably only have the standard fonts that came with your computer programs which are limited. I don’t have any specific websites to recommend you, but just Google free fonts and you’ll find a ton. It is helpful to search for a font with a description, such as, “curvy fonts”, “medieval fonts”, or “handwritten fonts”, etc.
You can download and install the fonts on your computer, and then test them out in a word processor. See how they look with your text to get a better idea!
But there are SO many fonts out there…how do I pick just one???
Yes there are tons, and it can be a bit overwhelming. You’re going to have to pick several at this stage. When I’m working on a logo for a customer, I give them 10-20 font choices to start out with usually. Sometimes more. I personally pick out every font I think could work. Then from there I show the customer, and let them choose which styles they like best and start narrowing it down that way.
Choosing the style you like comes back to the idea phase of logo creation-what’s the look and feel you’re after? A font is like an image in that regard-it has a personality to it believe it or not. So you want your font to match up with the images and theme you’re going for.
You may have to choose a secondary font.
Remember I said you may have to choose 2 fonts? Well generally you will pick one font for your main logo text, then if you have a tagline, you can make it stand out better-and just be more eye appealing-if you put that in a different font.
This font has to go good with your primary font, and again, lots of playing around and experimenting to get it right would be done at this stage. Usually though, you would choose a simpler font for a tag line if you have a fancier one as your primary-or vise-versa.
Picking out a color scheme can be so much fun! It can also be a bit of a challenge if you’re really not good with colors, and color theory is a HUGE topic in itself, which I’m not going to get into in this article. It took me many years to develop a good eye for color. I avoided it like the plague at first and would only do pencil drawings! Lol… but eventually something clicked, and I “got” it.
So I’ll leave you here with a small color combo’s chart I made with some good color schemes. If you’re looking for more, just search online for “color combinations” (Pinterest is great to use for this).
The overall shape of your logo matters mostly in terms of what you’re putting it on. You have a website banner image-the best shape is a rectangle. Do you have a square or circular sticker you want to put your logo on? Well that long rectangle isn’t going to look so good on that now, is it?
So what do you do?
My answer is: Be flexible. A lot of companies have variations of their logo just for occasions like this. Your logo doesn’t always have to have the same overall shape-it does need to keep the same fonts/colors/imagery though! So don’t worry, people will still know it’s you 🙂
Logo Creation Process
So now you’ve got ideas for the overall look and feel of your logo. Next is putting it all together and making some variations by playing around and experimenting with each element. This process is the most time consuming and can take a lot of going back and forth to get just what you want.
On the Designer’s side of things, they will be working on gathering a lot of fonts, creating the image you’d like by either hand drawing, or using and modifying a stock image which can take a lot of time too depending on the complexity.
Some notes on the technical side…
The best programs to use for this would be Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Inkscape(free!). These are what are called “Vector Drawing” programs. Vectors are a way of creating art that lets you resize to however big or small you’d like-with no quality loss! That is opposed to a photo image, where you can only resize it so big before it looks grainy and blurry. Also some things you’ll have trouble printing a photo on, or simply can’t. Some vendors for products will only accept vector artwork as they need it to be color separated easily.
So ideally you’ll have your logo made in a vector format. If you’re only ever going to be on the web however, and never print anything out, you don’t need to worry about this. Just using any graphics program will do!
It’s also ok to do a hybrid approach. If you really want a photo element in your image, but you want to also have your logo be resizable in vectors, then just use the photo part for places like your website, and use the logo without it, or a more simple version of your logo for printing on items.
Example of my logo creation process:
I started by just writing down the brand name a few different ways using the & sign or not, capital A or lowercase…. It’s important that you like what your name looks like written out.
For imagery I know I didn’t want anything too big or cheesy, and for a while I played around with using the paintbrush as an exclamation point after the word Canvas, but I felt it needed more. I picked out the compass as an element because I love star designs, and navigation. I then just experimented with different ways on how I could make that work.
I played around with color ideas, even thinking maybe to just go monochromatic(1 color), but I felt that would be too boring. In the end I chose blues, purples, greens, and added some gold to make the compass stand out more. I also added the circular part behind the star compass, as it made it look more whole and complete, along with the triangle design elements that circle around to give it a more old fashioned look.
For the fonts, I had a pretty good idea on the look I wanted for the main font, and in my head the text was arched a bit, which again just gives it a little something more to this specific design.
The top tag line, I chose an Old English style font to go with an old style navigation feel with the compass. I personally also love looks from different time periods so it worked for me.
I also made a one color version of the logo, without the tag line, for use when something more simple is needed, like on top of a photo for a watermark:
Logo creation can be really easy and simple if you know exactly what you want, or it can take some time going back and forth if you’re not certain. If at any time you’re getting frustrated and feel like you’re not getting anywhere, take a step back for a few days. Clear your mind and work on something else. Then, go back to the inspiration phase and gather more ideas on logos out there that you like.
There shouldn’t be any rush to getting your logo right-it’s important that you’re happy with it as it represents you and your brand!
I hope this article helps you out, and if you’re looking for a designer, I’m available for hire! Some examples of logos I’ve made over the years are below. You can Contact Me here at any time!
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