Is it time already to get a new logo? If it has been years since you updated your logo, or if you are just starting out now to create one, you should note that things are very different nowadays. Besides the usual need for artistic creativity, logo design today also has science, technology and even some psychology involved.
If that seems a bit more difficult than you imagined, do not worry, everyone goes through it. Even if you are a small business, it will be important for you to do these, because your competitors big or small will be doing the same thing. The better you create your logo and maximize brand impact even on a small scale, the greater the benefits on the long term.
Luckily for you, there is no need for you to take dozens of courses to know how to create a logo. We will cover for you some of the basic and most important steps for logo creation here. I will also give you some great resources links for further learning for each step so that even you, as a small business owner can develop the right logo that will give your product and business the best chances of success.
To give you an overview, there are 10 steps that we need to cover to give you the basics. This will range from initial research phases such as brand profile discovery and to audience research, up to logo testing and full launch. As you should note, we are going to be thorough with this. Do not worry even if we throw big words like audience research at you. It will not cost a lot and it will be well worth your effort in logo creation when you do so. Let us start.
Brand profile discovery
You will be telling yourself now, I know my brand already! I do not need to discover my own brand! Now, while this may be true, a lot of times many small businesses do not have the “right” idea about their brand. This is because the brand image is shaped both by you as a business owner, and then ultimately the market itself and their perception.
As the logo designer too, you will need to totally immerse yourself in what your brand is and how other people perceive it. What is the philosophy and passion beneath the brand? What does it stand for? What makes it different? What lifestyle does it promote? How do other people perceive its image? These are the important questions that you would want to ask as you rediscover what your brand truly is. Here is an article for more in depth insight into knowing your brand if you want to delve in more detail.
Audience profile research
The next step is to actually know the market for the brand. As you may have learned in the past, even though your product might cater to a wide array of people, there will always be that core “audience” or market demographic that you will be gunning for. You must determine your target market’s tastes, preferences, cultural leanings and even their overall psychology. Knowing more about the audience gives you a better idea of how you present your logo to be more catching to them.
To do this, you will need to do some real research. Now there are many things you can do here, but if you are more of a local brand or need to focus on local markets, the best way is either a survey or focus group discussion with some “sample customers”. You need to discover what type of people your customers really are, and the typical locations and areas where you can contact them. This can also apply to your online audience research, as you will want to discover which sites they frequent which you can advertise to.
Here’s an article from about.com that should help you ask more of the right questions to answer once you get started to your audience research.
Knowing thy enemy is of course a given in business (as is in war), and even as a small business it is prudent for you to know your competition as you create your logo. While a better logo is not necessarily the sure way to beat your rivals, it will give you an extra edge you need to fully realize a better and more recognizable brand.
Competitive research will require you to know a couple of things. You have to know who your competitors are, where they are advertising, how they are presenting themselves and ultimately how their logo of course compares to others. The importance here is for you to know how to differentiate your logo design against that information.
So basically what you do here is to actually “consume” your rivals’ material. Record their logos, record where you see their logos etc. etc. In terms of online research, simply do a Google search and see where they are appearing. The more you know about them, and the more you see the art of their logo, the more informed you should be.
If you want more resources for competitive research, this article from inc.com gives you further steps on how to correctly do your analysis.
Good, now let us take a look back at what we have done already. By this time, you should already immerse yourself in your brand. You know yourself. You should also have done your market research, helping you know your customers. Then finally you should also have done your competitive research, giving you insights on your rivals.
Collect all the information you have done, graphs, text, images and all other data. These will be your basis for your brainstorming session. It would be good to have other people with you as you discuss ideas and concepts. Remember, first list down the features and themes you want to be included in your logo. Once you have the whole list, you just have to go and start sketching different ideas that you can think of.
Collect all those sketches, see what looks great and those will be the ones you pass on to digital processing.
Starting with shapes
With sketches in hand, you should now be ready to start out actually creating your logos using digital image processing software. For shapes, it would be good to start with vectors. Tools like Adobe Illustrator should help you create the shape in your sketches. If you are of course not an expert in creating vectors, it might be good to get some stock vectors. You won’t believe the amount of FREE VECTORS that you can get from the Internet. Here is a nice list of resources for you for vector art. You can use parts of these vectors to fully form your logos.
Deciding the typography
Of course many types of logos need text. In fact some logos are Text only. In any case, the next big decision that you have to peg is your logo’s typography. Typography may actually define your logo, and a good font style might just be the difference between looking professional and formal versus just being plain wacky.
Now, there are two things you could do when choosing a font style for your logo. Either you can have your own font created and designed, OR you can get a well designed free font. Luckily for you, we have a list of both options that you can choose from.
Custom font design
These are some firms where you can have your own fonts designed.
If you want to create your fonts yourself, you can also try out these tips for DIY fonts.
Free font sites
These are a list of free fonts that you can download and use. You may want to check the licenses of each fonts if it is good for commercial purposes.
Color and balance
At this point, you should have the Logo’s shape, and the typography. Now it is time to decide on the colors. Now, you should already now know your brand and of course will know which colors to use. However, it is important to do another review of your colors to determine if it is actually ok. It is not just about what represents your brand. You should take into consideration your competitor colors and the different areas where your logos will be displayed on.
If you are not an artist, or have little eye for color though, do not fret. Here are some online color harmony generators that give you suggestions on color combinations that you can use from a basis of one color
NOTE: Some of the latest versions of design software like Adobe Photoshop CS6 also have their own color harmony generators that can help you with balancing the right color hues for your logos.
Combination and finalization
Once you are all done with the practical elements of your logo, it will be time now to actually combine and finalize the design. From your initial sketches and digital processing you should have at least one or two good concepts that you like. Lay those out and of course combine both the shape, typography and color elements to make it a whole logo.
Note that in combining these elements, try to test out a few variations just to see what looks the best. Make sure everything is balanced, and more importantly, see if the layout combination can easily fit all the different places where the logo will be placed. For example, will the logo look good in a letterhead, product box or a poster for example. Usually it is best that they have a more or less uniform and balanced dimension as logos that are too tall or too wide can cause issues with some publishing layout elements.
Also, review the early concepts and themes that you started with and see if those themes correspond correctly with your draft logos. This should keep in your goals with your logo design.
Now it is about testing. You do not want to just launch your logo outright without some kind of testing. Believe me. The best testing you can do is to do a private survey or again a focus group discussion presenting the different logo drafts that you have. Take a sample audience and run them through the logos. Test which logos they remember most, and of course gives them the more meaning. It is good to have a bigger sample size here to be sure of the general opinion.
I would also recommend actually PRINTING your sample logos into real paper. You can have some good quality letterheads and poster examples printed from places like printplace.com. Having the logo actually printed gives you a better sense of how that logo will appear in the real world of course.
DO NOT let the managers take over the decision for the logo as it is the consumers’ opinion that you should be most worried about here. In the end there should be a clear winner of what looks the best usually.
With the logo actually done, it will now be time for launch. For this, it is best to prepare everything before hand and due the switch on all your branded elements simultaneously. This way it would be totally obvious and people will notice immediately the change. So make sure you create the necessary digital and print materials with the updated logos, preparing them first for deployment. In this step you may see how the colors and dimensions will work on different environments. Launch on all avenues that you can stick your new logo into when you can. The on just one day, do the change. This will give the necessary immediate impact that everyone likes for your logo and brand itself.
So that is the full basic process for logo creation that covers research, development and eventual deployment. All these steps help you cover the right issues early on with your logos so that you do not have to worry too much about them in the end. The more careful and scientific you are with logo creation, the better results you will usually have.