If you have ever reimagined a company’s sign or logo because you thought it could be better, you might be a graphic designer at heart. These creative professionals are always thinking about how to make things like logos more visually attractive and compelling. Logo design is just one of the many things you could end up creating as a graphic designer, a career that is growing and adding thousands of jobs in the coming years.
Even if you haven’t gone to design school yet, you can start working on your designs, as a freelancer, for practice, or even just get a portfolio started for school applications. Here are some tips to help you design a logo like a true professional.
1. First, Know the Brand.
Knowing how to design a logo begins with knowing for whom you are designing. Crafting a great logo is about more than just making a pretty image. It has to encapsulate the brand and the story of the company or product. Think of a logo as shorthand for everything a brand stands for. A good way to start taking the meaning and story behind the brand and turning it into a great logo is to create a list of words that you think describe it. Once you have those words in front of you, they will help inspire your design. For example, words like strong or durable will lead to a very different logo than sweet and delicate.
2. Keep it Simple.
Logos are shorthand for a brand, company, or product. They have just one or two seconds to communicate a message to the viewer or reader. This means you cannot overcomplicate a logo. A good logo has to be simple and easy to view and should be understood immediately. Think of some of the most classic, recognizable, and enduring logos and how simple they are: Apple’s apple with a bite out of it, Target’s literal red and white target, and Nike’s swoosh. These are simple and convey intelligence and curiosity, targeting what you need from a store, and action and sports.
3. Use Color to Relay your Message.
When you enroll in a design program you’ll learn about color theory and how important color is related to an emotional response. With a logo you need to consider color and use it as an aspect of the design that triggers certain emotions and expresses a brand’s personality. Red can stand for boldness, blue for professionalism, and white for simplicity and cleanliness. Multiple colors can also be used for good effect. For instance, the classic NBC peacock logo was originally designed in rainbow colors to celebrate color television. Now, this lasting logo continues to express joy and fun through color.
4. Think Modern or Timeless.
Very few logos achieve the status of being timeless and going unchanged for decades. Most are updated for the times every ten years or so. When designing logos think timeless, but also realize that you aren’t likely to achieve it. It takes a combination of skill and experience along with good luck to design something that never gets old, like the classic FedEx logo or the Nike swoosh.
Sometimes it’s better to just think modern when designing a logo. Unless you’re designing for an antique fair or vintage clothing shop, think modern and up-to-date. Look at current logos for all kinds of brands to see what elements look modern, like clean fonts, simplicity, and specific colors. The font is an element of design that is heavily influenced by the times and can date a logo. When you’re learning how to design a logo in design school, you’ll learn all about fonts and the messages and tones they send to readers.
5. Make Several Sketches or Designs.
No one creates the best logo in just one try. As you brainstorm, use word lists, and get inspired by other logos and designs, sketch out or use computer programs to draw many options for logos. Keep going until you run out of ideas and don’t let your internal editor stop you. You can always throw away a design that doesn’t work. Let your mind run free as you create.
Then, when you have a lot of designs, start eliminating the ones that don’t work, that are too complex or doesn't tell the brand story accurately. Run your final list by friends or family for a fresh take. They can help give you a new perspective on your design, point out some mistakes, or highlight ideas you missed and help you hone the final, best design.
6. Use Design Software.
If you are a good artist and can sketch and draw logos, you have a solid foundation for becoming a designer. But, to get a perfectly clean graphic you may need to turn to software programs, those used for design generally as well as programs that are specific to creating logos. Try making logos in the design software you have, or if you can’t afford to buy one, try a free design platform, like Logojoy or DesignMantic. Practicing with software now will help you prepare for graphic design classes.
When it comes to graphic design, logos are among the most challenging designs to create. Now is a great time to start practicing, especially if you just love to do it. You don’t have to be actively working or studying to start creating, but going to school is a smart move if you want to become a professional. It will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to strike out on your own or to work for a design company.
In a good graphic design program, you’ll learn about digital imaging, typography and fonts, use of color, the composition in design, and so much more. Start checking out graphic design programs in South Florida to get your career in design and logos off the ground.