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15 Logo Design Tips for Non-Designers

15 Logo Design Tips for Non-Designers

13min read  

24 Mar 2020

You might think that effective company logo designs are very difficult to create and only talented designers can do that. Let us prove to you otherwise. The ideal logo design can say a lot, without showing much.

But how to arrive at that perfect business logo? Let’s find out together! 

We’ve collected 15 actionable tips for those of you, who have ventured to create a company logo. From the moment you choose a logo style to the moment your icon is shining on the billboards, our practical logo design tips will guide you on your way. 

Thus, if you're ready to take this rewarding process into your own hands, let's dive right in!

 

    1. Stop Blaming Your Budget

A good logo can help a company as much as a bad logo can hurt it. Why else would the largest brands spend thousands of dollars on logo design? 

Take NYC (2007) and BBC (1997) logos, for example. The two are among the most expensive logo redesigns with a budget of $16 million and $1.8 million respectively. These companies have certainly realized the power of a good logo.

BBC logo redesign

Image: Arc Reactions
 

But, not all companies have spent a good deal of money on their iconic logos. Let’s take Twitter as an example. What first comes to mind when you think about Twitter? Exactly their blue bird. Did you know that the company got their bird logo for $15 through a design website? They had to redesign it later on, as the bird wasn’t allowed to be used as a business logo.

Twitter logo evolution

Image: Median Ads
 

Still, the bottom line remains the same: the money spent on a logo does not determine its effectiveness. It’s easy to blame your budget for a poor logo design. But the truth is, a smart designing process matters far more than the money spent on it. 

Hence, the first of our logo design tips is stop worrying about your budget and get to work!

 

    2. Know Your Brand

Are you sure you know your brand well enough? You cannot create a business logo that ideally represents your brand unless you dig deeper into its core values and differentiating features.

Let’s say, you are a retailer that sells organic products. You’d like your customers to associate your brand with a healthy lifestyle, sustainability, and trustworthiness. All these qualities should be reflected in your organic brand logo. Thus, keeping them in mind throughout the designing process can make all the difference between a good and poor logo design.

organic brand logo mockup

In short, your company logo design should be in agreement with your overall branding strategy. Before you start working on your logo, therefore, take the time to define what makes your brand special and helps it stand out from the competition. Answering the following questions will put you on the right track:

  • What does your company do?
  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • What 3 words would you use to describe your brand?
  • Do you have any core business values? Define those in a couple of words.
  • Who is your ideal customer? 
  • What do you want customers to know about your brand?
 

Make sure you have your answers before proceeding, as you will be referring to them later on. 

Another thing you can do is create a brand value pyramid. Here’s an example of such a pyramid by a Swiss company offering healthy and organic food. As you see, it consists of three levels: the features and attributes of the products, the benefits consumers get, and the core values of the brand. 

brand pyramidImage: Brand Management Ovomaltine
 

Build a similar pyramid for your own brand, and use it as an inspiration for your business logo design. The top level of the pyramid represents what is most unique about a brand and what is the hardest to copy. You can fully rely on it while developing concepts for your logo. 

If you already have a base of returning customers, you can ask them what exactly they like about your products, services, or the brand in general. Pay attention to the characteristics that are most frequently mentioned and make sure to reflect those in your logo.

 

    3. Make Your Logo Symbolic

Having answered the questions in the previous section, you should now have a better idea of what exactly you want your logo to express. But, how to visualize those words, phrases, and sentences? It’s here that symbols come to your help. 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a symbol is a sign or shape that represents something else. We opened this article saying that a logo can mean a lot while showing very little. Such encapsulation of meaning becomes possible precisely due to symbolism. 

Did you know, for example, what the Toyota logo stands for? It certainly looks like a “T”, but it also has every other letter of the “Toyota” brand name concealed in its design.

Toyota logo meaning

Find a relevant symbol to represent your brand, and you’ll have nailed your task of designing a logo. As Maggie Macnab, an author and professional logo designer notes, “... by combining the intuitive immediacy of symbols and metaphors with strategic thinking, you integrate essential information that helps your logo stand out and be remembered.”

For inspiration, let’s explore some of the famous logos for their hidden (or not so hidden) symbolism.

Have you noticed that the “P” in the Pinterest logo looks very much like a pin? Such a symbolic play of letters is quite common both in lettermark and wordmark logos. 

Pinterest logo meaning

Image: DigitalSynopsis.com
 

The logotypes of Amazon and Federal Express both use an arrow to describe their services. The smile in the Amazon’s logo symbolizes satisfied customers. But it also connects “a” to “z”, implying that virtually any product one might think of can be found on the platform. 

If you’re wondering about the arrow in the FedEx logo, it’s hidden in the negative space formed by the letters “E” and “x”. A rather creative way to depict their core competence a progressive delivery service.

Fedex and Amazon arrows

Now, how do you design a company logo around meaningful symbolism? There’s no straightforward answer to that. It’s all about getting creative, putting all your ideas on paper, editing them dozens of times, and listening to your own intuition for guidance. 

Knowing what to look for, you can now draw some inspiration from famous and proven designs, and get to work.

 

    4. Choose a Logo Type

It may appear contradictory, but limitation is often said to boost creativity. The same can be true for the process of creating a company logo. Limiting your ideas to just one type of logo (or maximum two) will enable you to think more deeply within the boundaries of its design. 

But to make up your mind, you first need to become familiar with the main types of logos. Hence, one of our next logo design tips is to get a quick look at each type.

wordmark logo examples

Wordmark logos simply depict the brand name in its signature font. The main focus here is on the typographic style. Through a smart choice of font and color, such a logo can convey a wide spectrum of different emotions. Compare the designs of the playful Coca-Cola wordmark and the trust-instilling Visa logo.

lettermark logo examples

Lettermarks are also based on typography. Only instead of the complete brand name, they feature only the initials. For this reason, they are the perfect solution for companies with long names. CNN and IBM logos are two examples of lettermarks.

emblem logo examples

An emblem is the oldest and most traditional type of logo. It is composed of an icon that looks like a badge or a seal. Inside the icon, the brand name is written. The Starbucks logo used to be an emblem, which slowly evolved into a pictorial logo.

pictorial mark logo examples

Pictorial marks are graphic icons that represent a recognizable object. Apple and Twitter logos are perfect examples of such a logo. With pictorials, it’s important to consider what exactly you want your icon to represent.

It could be a visual depiction of your brand name, like the open box of the Dropbox logo. Or it could symbolize your services, like the panda logo of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

abstract logo examples

Abstract logos are geometrical shapes that do not have any meaning beyond themselves. The Nike swoosh is one example. Because abstract logos do not mean anything in particular, they are open to interpretation. 

On the downside, it means they are easy to misconstrue. On the upside, however, such icons can be more unique than pictorials, as they do not imitate any real-life object.

mascot logo examples

A mascot logo represents a cartoonish character, who acts as the ambassador of a brand. For such logos to be effective, the character should be thoroughly integrated into the company’s branding. 

Mascots infuse brands with a fun and friendly character. Thus, before creating such a logo, make sure these are the kind of traits you want your brand to be associated with.

combination mark logo examples

Combination marks include both icons and letters. Often, new companies use such logos to make their brand names recognizable. If they grow to become widely known, the wordmark is usually dropped and the pictorial or abstract sign remains. 

In other combination marks, the brand name is so integrated in the design, that it’s hard to separate the two. The Burger King logo is a brilliant example. Remove the wordmark, and the two bread buns are left without their juicy filling.

Now, you’re armed with the knowledge of the seven main logo types. If you need to, you can further explore their specificities, consider the benefits and downsides of each. Once ready, make an informed choice, and narrow down your creative focus on that specific type of a design.

 

    5. Use Logo Design Tools and Resources

There are lots of tools online that can ease your job, and help you create a company logo you’re truly proud of. How about exploring some of those?

 

Online Logo Maker

Renderforest Logo Maker is an online tool that generates customizable logo designs based on your company name and description. 

wine brand logo designs

You can pick a suitable icon from the suggested list or create your own logo design with the help of the tool. The extensive collection of icons is constantly updated with new designs all of them created by professional logo artists.

The platform has many other interesting features. For one, it enables you to create mockups with your icon, like the one above. There’s even the option to animate your logo, making your video intros that much more professional. Take a look at this logo reveal we’ve created with one of the templates.

 

Design Websites

There are many design websites where you can hunt for inspiration. Websites like Logo Gala and Logo Moose are great places to begin. They feature logos created by professional artists and can serve as an inspiration when you’re not sure where to start. 

If pre-existing logos are a bit too restricting, try expanding your search to Dribbble or Deviant Art. These are websites for artists and designers to showcase their works.

Dribbble illustrations

Screenshot: Dribbble.com
 

If by now you’ve given up on the idea of creating a logo yourself, you might even find an artist to hire there. However, if you’re not the type to easily give up, let’s keep going!

 

    6. Evoke an Emotion 

There are certain associations that customers make with brands. Call to mind your favorite pastry shop, and you will most likely feel its warm and cozy atmosphere. If you’re into fitness and are making regular visits to the gym, you’ll likely associate the latter with confidence, motivation, and health. 

A good business logo translates all these associations into a concise visual design. Thus, every time a customer sees the logo of a certain brand, these feelings are recalled. 

The famous Nike “swoosh”, for example, gives the brands’ devotees a boost of determination and confidence to realize both their athletic and life aspirations.

Nike-logo-design-tips

Image: Pixabay.com
 

The iconic Coca-Cola logo evokes feelings of joy and lightheartedness, which is what the customers are buying when they reach for that bottle in a store. 

Of course, the logo alone would not be able to create such results if it wasn’t backed up by an actual positive experience with the brand. Once the latter is solidified, though, a logo does an excellent job of reminding customers about that experience.

Now, the question is, how to infuse your logo with emotion? That’s exactly what we cover next. But, before proceeding, write down the exact feelings you want your logo to evoke.

 

    7. Choose the Right Color Combination

Color plays a key role in determining the emotional associations customers make with your brand. Companies, for which customer trust is imperative, often use the color blue in their logo designs. Financial and tech companies are the brightest examples of this.

blue logo examples

Image: Venngage.com
 

To understand which colors to use in your own logo, familiarize yourself with the psychology of colors. Pick a color combination that best suits your brand identity. If there is a specific brand color that you consistently use on your website, social media pages, or products, make it the dominant color in your business logo design as well. 

You can also experiment with online color wheels to find the best combination of matching colors.

color wheel logo design tips

Screenshot: Sessions.edu
 

Keep in mind, however, that this is not merely a creative decision, but also a practical and financial one. Logos with many colors are more difficult and costly to print on various surfaces. Plus, they are much easier to get wrong. So, it’s better to stick with two or three colors than later regret your decision.

While creating your logo, it’s better to work in black and white first. This will ensure that your logo looks just as impressive in its monocolor version. There can be many technical reasons later on for displaying it in a single color. Thus, it’s better to take this into account early on.

Aside from color, the shape of your logo also plays a huge role in the associations people make with your brand. Check out the video below to find out more about shape psychology.

 

    8. Reverse Engineer your Favorite Brand Logos

The next of our logo design tips is to understand what’s so great about some famous brand logos. To begin, first think of your favorite company logos. Then, try to find out what exactly in their designs strikes a chord with you. What makes the logo so descriptive of that particular brand? The following questions will help you in this process:

  • Which of the 7 types does the logo belong to?
  • What feelings does the logo evoke? What exactly in the design elicits those emotions? How do those feelings relate to your experience with the brand? 
  • Is there any symbolism in the design? How does it relate to the brand’s value proposition? 
  • What colors does the company’s logo design include? What emotions do those colors evoke? What do they communicate about the brand?

 company logo colors

Image: Lab Digital Creative
 

Answering these questions can give you lots of insight into the psychology of logo creation. Use your findings to come up with a well-thought design that communicates the spirit of your own brand. 

Need more inspiration? Watch the video below to understand the thinking behind some of the most famous brand logos.

 

    9. Brainstorm and Conceptualize

Having understood how your favorite brands visually communicate their value, you can now get creative and start making your own business logo design. Draft the results of your imagination on paper, keeping in mind the descriptive words, symbols, and colors you came up with earlier.

logo design tips-sketches

Remember to keep your sketches. You may have an idea early on that gets rejected by others, but later on this idea may sink in and develop. Plus, it’s often easier to work from an existing base than come up with something entirely new. Without those prior ideas, you might later on find yourself in a creative rut.

 

    10. Keep it Simple but Avoid the Cliche

A complex design will be hard to work with later on when you need your logo printed on different surfaces or used in a variety of ways. Such a design is also hard to memorize and will require more brand encounters before it becomes recognizable by customers. Thus, do your best to keep things as visually simple as possible.

Also, as tempting as it might be, don’t turn to clip art or similar generic icons. A cliche design will fail to become memorable, as people will have already seen lots of similar icons. This is hardly what you’re aiming for.

generic logo examples

Image: SHAHS Studio
 

To become imprinted in people’s minds, a logo design should stand out. It means that creating an iconic logo requires you to think outside the box. The process might not be easy, but it’s definitely rewarding.

 

     11. Use the Space Wisely

Use negative space. Negative space is the blank space around the characters and shapes of your logo. As mentioned above, FedEx uses negative space to depict an arrow. Here are some other good examples of how negative space can make for a striking and unique design.

negative space logos

Created with Renderforest Logo Maker, each of the designs above combines two concepts into a single icon all using negative space.

flight finder logo negative space

Image: Behance.net | Rajendra Prasad A
 

This imaginative logo can be viewed both as a lettermark and a pictorial at the same time. The two initials of the brand name are mirrored to form an airplane in the negative space between them.

Here are some other logo designs that creatively employ negative space. 

negative space logo design tips

Image: TwistedSifter.com
 

Use them for inspiration and feel free to experiment yourself. Working with negative space can be tricky, so don’t give up on your first try.

 

    12. Design with Your Audience in Mind

Have you created any buyer personas for your business? If so, now’s the time to bring them to the table. Why? Because, among other things, your logo should be tailored to your target audience. In other words, your customers should be the first people to find it relevant and attractive. 

One way to get this right is to run a preference test. It’s similar to A/B testing in online marketing campaigns, only much simpler. All you need to do is create several logo designs and ask people, who fall into your target audience, which design they prefer. 

logo preference testing

Screenshot: UsabilityHub.com
 

You could include additional questions, like which icon they find most trustworthy, or modern, or some other characteristic that’s relevant to your specific brand. Once you have their answers, making the right choice will not be as hard. 

There are many online tools that enable remote testing: UsabilityHub, UserTesting, and Optimal Workshop, to name a few.

 

    13. Versatility, Scalability, Responsiveness

Companies typically work across a wide range of mediums: web, mobile, print, large and small format. Your logo needs to effortlessly adapt to all of these while maintaining its structure and integrity. Simplicity of design helps, but thorough testing is also important.

Quite often colors become the problematic aspect of a brand’s logo. This is exactly what happened to Slack. The brand’s logo had 11 colors, and this introduced lots of annoying issues for the company. The logo looked unattractive against any background other than sheer white, while its colors and design were often messed up by external users. 

slack logo backgrounds

Image: Slack.com
 

Eventually, it was decided to redesign the logo, and reduce its palette to four primary colors. The new icon turned out much neater and more easily adaptable to different uses.

slack logo redesign

Scalability and responsiveness are two other important factors to consider. When creating your logo, make sure it is suitable for being used in different sizes. If there are lots of tiny details in the design, they will be lost when the logo is reduced in size. 

 

Build for the Web

A responsive logo can be easily adjusted for different purposes and platforms, including the web. To be suitable for the web, your logo should fit within a square (1x1) without compromising its unique character. Reducing your logo to 1x1 dimensions is necessary for creating a mobile app icon, for example. But, even if your company does not have any plans for developing an application, square icons are still indispensable on the web. Just take a look at the tabs of your browser to get the idea.

Most combination logos, like that of Slack, can be adjusted to square dimensions simply by dropping the wordmark. 

slack new logo

Image: Slack.com
 

Some logos, though, will need slightly more redesigning. The key is to keep the logo recognizable by maintaining its characteristic features. Google did an excellent job at this by combining the four colors of its wordmark logo in this monogram version.

Google new logo lettermark

Image: Digicliff.com

 

    14. Consider the Different Logo File Formats

Scalability also matters for large-scale printing. In this case, what becomes problematic is not the design itself, but the format in which the logo file was created and exported. Images in raster file formats (JPG, PNG, etc.) get pixelated when scaled up. To ensure a better scalability, therefore, it’s important to have your logo as a vector file as well.

vector raster logos

Image: Calypso Digital Agency
 

Make sure to learn more about logo file formats, lossy and lossless compression, logo transparency, and other technical aspects of logo design. This will help you make as informed a decision as possible.

 

    15. Update Your Logo to Keep It Fresh

Updating a company logo is a serious consideration and should not be taken lightly. Customers grow used to brand logos, and might not take the change easily. Therefore, unless the new design is significantly better, altering an established logo might do more harm than good. 

Nevertheless, there are times when updating a logo can be beneficial. Take a look at the evolution of the Microsoft Windows logo, for example.

Microsoft Windows logo history

Image: DesignContest.com
 

The relatively recent popularity of the flat design has urged many companies to rethink their iconic logos. And Microsoft is but one example. What’s interesting is that two decades later, the brand returned to its very first logo concept — a sky-blue rectangle with abstract windows. A slight redesign, and the logo is as good as new. 

With the rise of the flat style, even the Google logo lost its dimensionality over time. These are both examples of how design trends can initiate logo updates. 

 

google logo evolution

Image: CGfrog.com
 

Alternatively, there might be internal reasons for a logo change. Because a logo is an integral part of any brand’s identity, significant changes in the latter should be reflected in the company logo design as well.

Updating a logo in small ways can be quite refreshing. Thus, don’t be afraid to subtly tweak your icon from time to time. But, do be careful not to overdo it.

 

Conclusion

Your logo is the most concise statement about your company, its values, and the benefit it provides to customers. As your business grows, the logo you’ve created will be gradually infused with a unique character. Its mere look will remind customers of the experience they have with your brand. 

So, choose wisely and go with the design that will stand the test of time. The logo design tips we covered will assist you in this process. Happy designing!

 

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