Imagine Twitter without their bird icon or McDonald’s without their golden arches — hard to do so, isn’t it? While a logo may seem like a rather small aspect of the startup journey, it can be an incredibly powerful tool that swiftly and effectively communicates on behalf of your brand. Fortunately, a solid development process and attention to a few fundamental rules of design will have you building a quality company logo in no time.
Traits of an Impressive Logo
When building a logo for your startup, it’s important to focus on the mission, personality, audience of your product. That said, let’s talk about which traits make an effective logo:
1. Simplicity: Is the design simple and clean enough to be flexible and easily identifiable? Is it not too busy, confusing, or distracting?
2. Memorability: Is it quickly recognizable? Is it clever? Will people only have to spend a second or two thinking about it to get it?
3. Timelessness: Will it still be a great logo in 10, 20, or even 50 years?
4. Functionality: Does it scale to different sizes without losing transparency or quality? Will it work across different platforms and within various contexts?
5. Appropriateness: Does it resonate with the target audience and industry of your business?
Remember: your logo is not advertising. You have plenty of other ways to explain who you are and what your business does. Make sure that your logo represents your brand accurately, but don’t expect it to do all of the heavy lifting.
“There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” -Milton Glaser
Creating the Logo
With these traits in mind, you’re now ready to start the process of creating your own brand’s logo. While there are no set rules to this process, this eight-step guide can act as a starting point for your process:
1. Design Brief.
Gather as much information about the vision for your logo. How should it feel? What colors are going to be important? When do you need a completed logo? Most importantly, who is the target customer, what drives them, and what are they looking for in a logo?
Conduct research focused on your company’s industry, including its history and main competitors. What is the primary sales motivator in this industry? Which brands are succeeding and why?
Research logo designs that have been successful in the past. Focus on current styles and trends that are related to your industry or business. While researching logos can seem overwhelming at first, websites like Dribbble, Logo Moose, and Logo Pond are helpful resources.
4. Sketching and Conceptualizing.
This is a crucial step. You can either outsource this work and provide the designer with information from steps 1–3, or proceed with designing the logo yourself. Developing your logo design concept(s) is where creativity comes into play, which makes this step a more personal process. Some designers use a napkin to sketch, some use a sketchbook, and some use the computer. While this is all a matter of personal choice, we recommend starting this process on paper and later moving to computer sketches.
Taking breaks throughout the design process can be very beneficial. Doing so allows your ideas to mature and lets you see them from a fresh perspective. This is also an excellent time to get feedback from the right people. Ask designers and potential customers for their take on your ideas.
Even the best designers don’t knock out a logo on the first shot. In this phase, work on narrowing down your ideas to 2–3 concepts (all should be capable of working as final logos).
A logo on a plain sheet of paper or in a photoshop file is in its least natural space. Take your final revisions and mock them up in a manner that they will likely be seen by potential customers — on business cards, your website, or even as an animated logo in a video. While this may seem like busy work, this step will bring your mockups to life and help you make your final decision.
Time to choose your final logo. Make final file versions with proper colors, sizes, and fonts for ease of future use. Create an Adobe Illustrator vector file, a high-resolution PSD, JPG and PNG, and smaller versions for web use in places like social media or for your website.
Avoiding Common Logo Design Pitfalls
Before diving straight into designing your logo, it’s helpful to consider common pitfalls that many brands have encountered in their own development processes. To avoid these issues and increase your chances of creating a successful logo, keep this advice in mind:
1. Fight The Temptation To Imitate
While drawing inspiration from other companies is common, imitating another company’s logo will not do your brand the service it deserves. Not only may consumers feel that your company lacks creativity, but this move may lead to confusion between brands. It takes work to make something original, but your business will be far better off for it.
2. Avoid Gimmicky Fonts
When it comes to logo design, keep your font choices classic and simple, and avoid over-garnishing. This will allow your logo to maintain relevance in years to come instead of appearing outdated in a few years’ time.
3. Don’t Use More Than Two Fonts
As a general principle, constrain yourself to just one or two typefaces. Doing so will ensure that your logo design is clear and free of crowding.
4. Subtract As Much As Possible
Again, simplicity is key when creating a logo. When looking at your logo, ask yourself the following questions: “is each component of this logo purposeful?”, “does this make sense?”, “does this match the brief?”, and “is this self-indulgent?”.
5. Get The Tone Right
A logo design represents a business’s personality and professionalism, so strong visual play is critical. Use fonts and illustrations that sum up the ‘brand mood’ of your startup and its industry, which will allow potential customers to better understand and resonate with your brand.
6. Check For Hidden Words
When Weight Watchers switched to an all-lowercase logo a few years ago, they quickly realized that an inappropriate word could be seen in the center of their logo and changed back to their previous logo. To avoid these types of issues, always get a pair of second eyes to take a look at your logo.
Designing a logo from scratch is no easy task, requiring a creative process that takes a lot of research, knowledge of a business and its audience, and attention to the principles of logo design. If you partner with the right designers and have a robust process in place, you should end up with something your startup (and audience) loves.