We made this Guide to Logo Design so that anybody can create a good logo.

These are the same steps we use to create professional logos. The only difference between hiring us and creating a logo yourself is the amount of time it will take.

If you spend 100 hours designing your logo and you are willing to do the work for free, then, it is possible to create a good logo without paying anything. But, you should consider the time it will take you to do it yourself and the things that you will need to learn. Do you even own illustrator? Let’s begin!

1 – Discover your purpose.

The first step to logo design is discovering who you are. A logo is not your brand, but it is part of your branding. Your brand is how you position and market your business, products, and services. Branding is how people perceive you in the marketplace and that perception helps them make better decisions.

For example, an insurance broker that specializes in Property & Casualty insurance for construction will be seen as a better option than an “all-lines” broker. Job hunting is similar. It’s best to specialize in a specific role because companies are hiring for a specific role. Companies hire specialist and so do customers.

But who are you? Look deep into the soul of your company. What is the purpose of your business? Think beyond your products and services and ask, “How does my company help people?” The answer is your purpose.

Write the purpose of your company in 8 words or less. The more specific you can be, then the easier it will be to create a good logo for your brand. If you know at the beginning that you are focusing on being “Construction insurance experts”, then it would make since to utilize some construction symbolism in the logo, but at the same time, if you plan to work in multiple industries, then a more generic approach would be better as your grow.

Also keep in mind that it’s normal to evolve your logo over time, so you don’t need to try and imagine what you will be doing in 10 years. Just think about what you are doing right now and design a logo for that.

2 – Research your competition.

When you are creating something new its important to research your competition to avoid creating something that might conflict with a registered trademark. Knowing what designs to avoid copying will be helpful in avoiding a costly legal battle and recall of marketing documents.

You should spend about 30 minutes on google image search looking for logos from other companies in the same industry as you. For example, type “Private Client Insurance” in google image search and review the logos of your competition ( try to avoid making similar logos ).

There are two types of trademarks, one is a common law trademark that could prevent you from using a similar design in the same state as a competitor even if they did not register the trademark. The second is a registered trademark, which is protected throughout the entire United States. A “TM” symbol near a logo means the company is claiming common law trademark, and a ® symbol means that the logo or the text is officially registered. The only way to know for sure what is registered is to do your own search online at the USPTO website ( https://www.uspto.gov/ ) .

This exercise is to help you understand how your competition is branding themselves so that you can differentiate yourself from them in the marketplace. It wouldn’t be good if people thought of your competition when they saw your logo because the designs were similar. Sometimes companies do this to leach off a more famous brand, but I don’t recommend this approach because it can create a negative perception of your business ( similar to how counterfeit products are associated with poor quality.)

Save some of the logos that stand out to you in a folder and review those later when you finish your first round of concept designs.

3 – Create a word map to find symbolism

Before you create visual concepts, create a word map for your business. This brain storming technique helps you discover hidden symbolism and ideas for visual designs. Take a blank piece of paper and at the center write your company name. For example, “Blue Bird Insurance”.

Around your company name, begin to write all the words you can think of that are associated with your business, including the actually words in your business name ( Blue, Bird, Insurance ). For example, write “insurance” outside your company name and draw a line connecting both.

From insurance, there are multiple words that come to mind, such as “risk management”, “protecting” and “invest”, so write those words nearby “insurance” and draw a line from each of them to insurance. Continue this process until you have run out of related words to add.

The end result should look something like this.

The next step is to review these words and highlight the ones that have the most meaning and potential.

These highlighted words will be used to create rough concepts in the next step.

4 – Concept sketching

With your word map beside you, start drawing half-inch squares on a blank piece of paper. The idea is to work within a limited space to reduce the amount of detail that you can add. This process should take a few hours, so relax with some coffee and sketch small concepts in about 30 different squares that have meaning and symbolism related to your company.

Use the word map you created to help think of some ideas. Don’t worry about finding the best idea on your first try. Just get something on paper and go from there. Color is not important at this point. Keep everything black and white.

There are four different types of logo symbols: letter logos, acronym logos, symbol logos, and name logos.

During this concept process we are looking for letter logos, acronym logos, and symbol logos. Name logos should be worked on last so that you can see if the symbols you designed can be combined into the letters.

5 – Create vectors of the best concepts

Hopefully you found some good ideas during your logo concept session. Now select the best three concepts and create these as vectors in Adobe Illustrator. Which ones are the best?

Well, that comes with experience, but you should select the concepts that do not conflict with your competition’s logos and are meaningful even without text. There should be some inherent story within the symbol. It can be related to your products, customer service, or business philosophy. Ultimately any logo design can be made into a decent logo if it is ( 1) simple, (2) meaningful, and can be (3) trademarked.

We will be using Adobe illustrator to create vectors ( If you don’t have it, then you can purchase a year subscription here ). I’m not going to go into the details of how to use illustrator, but the program can be learned quickly within a month if you work hard. Knowing how to create vectors in illustrator is a valuable skill that is essential for any graphic design or branding work, even more so than Photoshop.

Create a new document with 30 square canvases spaced evenly across the document. The square format will be used to determine more accurately how the design will appear in real world use. If you create canvases directly next to each other, then you might make the wrong decisions based on the space being cluttered.

The tools that I use to create the vectors are the Pen Tool, Pathfinder Panel, Align Panel, Stroke Panel, and Character ( type ) tool. There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube to learn about these tools.

With these tools you can create black and white versions of your best concept sketches in vector format. The results should look like this.

Notice the spacing of the logos and that we are not adding the company name at this time. Just focus on creating the logo symbols.

6 – Typography for your company name

Now that you have a few logo symbols, you are ready to add your company name. At this point you can start exploring ideas related to a name logo which may or may not incorporate your symbols.

Copy the symbols onto blank canvases. You will need to adjust the size of the logos so that you have space to add your company name on the right side. There are two common logo layouts: ( 1 ) horizontal with the logo on the right side, and ( 2 ) vertical with the logo directly centered above the company name.

The vertical layout is best used for promo items and specific marketing situations that have limited horizontal space. The horizontal layout should be the primary layout that you use for business cards, your website, and most other marketing documents.

You should consider whether or not a “Serif” font or a “San-Serif” font would be best for your branding. Typically, serif fonts are used by traditional “corporate” companies to convey a sense that they have been around a long time, but the downside is that they lack a modern look and can be difficult to read at a distance due to the thin design of serif fonts.

San-Serif font’s are the most popular choice for modern companies because they are simple looking and have heavy weight fonts that make them easy to read from a distance on marketing materials.

After you have decided on a font style, then you should start laying out multiple concepts with different fonts to visualize which ones would best convey the personality of your company. You also need to consider the weight of the font and whether or not a regular, semi-bold, bold, or some combination of contrasting weights would be helpful to separate words for clarity.

Next you should consider the kerning of individual letters and the horizontal spacing of all the letters in the entire company name ( This is called leading ). Always ask, “can I improve the legibility of the name?” and, “is there anything that may be confusing at a distance?”. Refine your design into the simplest form for clarity. If you can make words more clear by using contrasting font weights, or if you can increase the legibility of the logo from a distance by increasing the spacing between the symbol and company name, then make those adjustments.

It’s normal for this part of the process to take a few days, so invest some time into researching typefaces and experimenting with various styles. You might have to purchase fonts, so set aside a budget of about $100 for this.

7 – Add color to your logo

At this step we would present three concepts to our client to get feedback and then begin adding color to the design they selected. When presenting your logo concepts to decision makers, make sure that you are not overwhelming them with options. The trick is to present three strong options of which either would be a good choice for them to select.

Let’s add color to your selected design to further define the style of your brand. This is a monumental step because you are determining the color of t-shirts, marketing materials, promo items, and even your office walls. The most popular colors for company logos are red, blue, and green.

Red:

Red is great for getting attention and conveying a passionate feeling.

Blue:

Blue is calming and conveys a sense of seriousness.

Green:

Green can convey health, wealth, and positive outcomes.

Try to avoid using more than 3 colors in your logo, because the more colors that you add, the more expensive your marketing materials will cost to print, and you will be overly complicating your branding. Focus your company branding with 1 or 2 primary colors and let those be what the public knows you by.

In illustrator, copy your logo symbol and company name to empty canvases to experiment with colors. Consider how color can be used with your symbol and how it can be used with the text of your company name. For example, your company name does not need to be black. You might try using a dark gray in combination with a blue symbol instead.

At this point you should explore the idea that your logo might be best suited to be presented in white on a colored background. This inverted logo can be very effective at grabbing attention. Even if you don’t use it as your primary logo design, you should still create a colored background logo as a secondary option. There are many situations when this type of logo would be useful: Event Marketing, Website Design, Postcards )

8 – Select the winner

Should have more than enough to select the logo that you are going to use. If you followed this process, then any of your options will be a good choice. It’s important to be decisive. Move forward and do not look back.

9 – Taglines and alternate layouts

Now that you selected a final design, you should create the alternate layout possibilities, which include adding your tagline, vertical layouts, and all white versions.

10 – Final adjustments

The logo process should take about a month, if not more, due to getting things approved. It’s important that you have time away from your designs to come back with fresh eyes. If you work without any breaks, then you can become blind to what you need to fix. Just forget about your logo for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes to make any final adjustments.

11 – Saving file formats for web and print

It’s time to export production ready files. The most important files you need are .AI ( Print ), .pdf ( Print ) , jpg ( Print and Web ), and PNG ( Web ) files.

First, save a cleaned up Illustrator file (.ai) with only the finished artworks. This will make it easy for other designers to place these files into Adobe Indesign, which is the leading tool for marketing document creation.

Next, save a PDF file with all the variations. This PDF file should be shared when someone request a vector for print.

The JPG format is an all around good format for print and web. Save both print format at 300DPI and a lower resolution web format at 72DPI.

Finally, we recommend you utilize PNG files for all web uses because they are lower in file size and higher quality than JPG files. You can even save a 24bit PNG with an alpha channel to create a transparent logo for the web.

12 – Create a logo usage guide

You’ve worked hard to create a great logo, but you need to educate others on how to use it properly. Create a document that explains how to use the logo and in what situations you would use each variation. Include information on what colors and fonts were used. This document will help designers and third-parties who are working with your logo use it properly.

13 – Implementation

The final step is to implement your new logo onto all your marketing materials, including your website, print materials, letterhead, business cards, and folders. This process could take months, so have a plan to change the logos on every document and ask your team to send you any documents they are using that may still have the old logo.

And that’s it! From A to Z we shared with you our Guide to Logo Design. Give it a shot yourself or you can hire us! ( Logo Design )

Chris, CEO of Start Some Marketing
chris@startsomemarketing.com