For Beginners: How to design a logo your clients will love

When I started designing logos, I wished someone had told me all the things I didn't know about creating one. So, here's an article I wished I had read when I started out.

Caution: This article is not for you if you are a professional designer, but you should read this if you are starting out.

When you first start designing a logo, it can be very challenging. How do you communicate the offerings made by the brand into a small icon? It can be quite tough to understand and a challenging task to undertake.

Here are some tips to help you get better at designing logos:

Understanding what a logo is

A logo doesn't have to summarise all the things your brand does. Infact, it doesn't need to communicate anything your brand does. Surprised? Well, the most notable logos ever made never communicated anything the brand did (Apple, IBM, Ford, Facebook to name a few). If your brand is like an ice berg, the logo is just the tip of the ice berg. All it needs to do is, put an image in the minds of your audience for your brand, so that each time they hear your brand's name, a simple shape occupies their mind. In other words, your logo needs to be simple, unique and memorable. While you can still address what your brand does in the logo, it's never a must have.

Also, educate your clients about this so that they can understand the value of your final design.

Logos of Apple, IBM, Ford, Facebook
Apple and IBM's logo don't symbolise computers, Ford's doesn't symbolise vehicles and Facebook's doesn't symbolise social networking

Preparing a brief

Briefs can be multiple pages long or just a single line. While you can ask as many questions to clearly understand the requirement, you should ask these 5 questions to cover the basics:

  1. What's the name of the brand?

  2. What service does your brand provide?

  3. What's the target audience?

  4. Do you remember any other brand's logos that you have liked in the past?

  5. Do you have any color preferences?

Doing your research

You need to look at what your competition is doing & what everyone else around you is doing. Not to copy what they do, but to understand how you can use all that knowledge to create something unique and clutter breaking. Study rebrands, study why big companies change their logos and study famous logos created by the greatest designers. Don't just research online, go out there into the physical world and see how your brand interacts with your customers. Form a point of view and then get down to work.

Sketching it out

This is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of logo design. It's really hard to sit in-front of a blank screen and push your pixels to create a decent logo. Always sketch it first. Make multiple sketches before you narrow down on 2-3 sketches that have some potential.

Arun's sketchbook
Sketches help get more clarity on concepts while softwares help you make your designs pixel perfect.
Using Vector based softwares

Logos are made so that they can be scaled up or down as per the requirements. From a small pencil to the largest billboard a logo needs to adapt according to the application. Raster based softwares like Adobe Photoshop can’t cater to this. Adobe Photoshop uses pixels which can get blurred when you stretch them. Switch to vector based applications like Adobe Illustrator that use calculations to draw shapes, this way you don’t lose any quality even at a much bigger scale.

Vector drawings can be scaled without any loss of quality

Using less colours

Always try to keep as less colours as possible while designing your logo. The reason behind this is simple: consistency. In a world where not every brand touch point can be produced by 256 million color values, there would be places where you can't use more than 2-3 colours. A black and white print out, or a gold foil printing might suddenly stop you from producing a full color reproduction of your logo. The take away is to keep things simple so that your logo can appear the same across applications and have a greater impact.

Complex logo
Multicolour logos are harder to produce consistently across applications

Simple Logo
Simple logos which use less colours have more impact when produced across applications

Analysing applications of your logo

Prepare a list of places your logo is actually going to appear. From obvious applications like letterheads, visiting cards and envelopes to more specific applications like embroidered logo on tshirt tags, make a list of these applications. Once you have these applications listed, try and find mockups that come close to your requirements. Test your logo on these mockups and check if your logo stands out in all those applications as well. Mockups don't just help you design better, but they also help the client understand the broad range of applications of their logo. Here are some websites where you can find free mockups:




Maintaining consistency across applications

Like we covered before, your logo needs to be memorable. And your logo can only be memorable if your audience keeps seeing a consistent brand logo each time you use it. From a small favicon which sits on the tab of your browser, to the largest hoarding your brand can take up, the logo needs to look as consistent as possible. The easiest way to ensure this is to use really simple shapes to create a logo, the simpler the shape is, the more consistent it will be across different applications.

Complex logos
Complex shapes are harder to recognise at smaller sizes