Let’s be clear. You don’t need a logo to start a business. But eventually a good logo is part of your overall branding and even a focal point of its identity.
Digital tools and increased online connectivity are enabling entrepreneurs and lean businesses with limited budgets, to create logos themselves, collaborate with a freelancer, barter services or hire an agency.
Before you create (or recreate)!
Whether it’s a new logo or a rebrand that you seek, before you even begin on a design, there are two core ingredients you need to have at hand.
- Maintain an inspiration log – save pictures, colors, ads, logos, competitor logos – anything that catches your eye. Cluster your findings every few days and you will see patterns emerge – what attracts you and what doesn’t. Pinterest is a great place to start.
- Analyze your objective – what feelings do you want to evoke in the audience- comfort, security, confidence, joy, hope, power? Clean and crisp or warm and fuzzy?
You might also like to read Make it Better – 5 Point Cheat Sheet for non-Designers.
Armed with this research, whether you DIY your logo in Canva or work with a designer, here is a viability/feasibility/simple lens- your ultimate, concise, no fuss guide to nail down the logo for your business.
Follow these 7 rules for logo design to elevate your brand!
Let these commandments be the footprint on which you base your logo related decisions – all the different elements outlined below, need to come together to create a great looking logo that also serves as your brand’s signature.
1. Thou shall determine Style – identify your preference.
Wordmark, Lettermark, Pictorial mark or a Combination mark, there are several types of logo categories to choose from. Work with the one that best represents your brand, design aesthetic and vision.
2. Thou shall reckon Shape – form does matter.
Along the same lines, consider web and social media protocol to determine the overall shape of your logo. At the very onset, your logo will be used across the top menu of your website and within square and circular social media profile pictures. A tall vertical logo as an example, might not be ideal for any of those.
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For Maroon Oak, we chose a horizontal style, combination logo with both imagery and text. This gives us flexibility to use the logo as a whole on our website or stationery, or use just the icon as an alternate logo that stands on its own and yet remains recognizable and meaningful as social media profile picture or a favicon.
We also use the icon for optional branding memorabilia like this pin.
3. Thou shall Simplify – easy and impactful
A logo is a symbol of your brand, not the entire mission statement. If you want your logo to be memorable and impactful, don’t sweat the small stuff trying to incorporate everything that your brand represents. Simplicity wins since it’s only the broadest of elements–color, rough shape–not nuance (or even the name!) that consumers recall.
Aim for recognition at a glance with minimal and distinctive elements.
Get Uplift has a clever play of symbolic iconography within its wordmark.
4. Thou should be mindful of Scalability – contraction and expansion
Imagine your logo on almost every potential item – from a pen to the side of a truck. That’s why it’s important to have the design in a vector format which simply ensures that no matter how big the image gets (or how small), it will keep its sense of proportion without getting blurry or distorted.
Create and Cultivate even created a Tattoo!
5. Thou shall prioritize Readability– squinting not accepted
A complex design sacrifices legibility when crunched to smaller sizes, especially on mobile devices.
You could counter that by using an element of your logo – a wordmark or marquee icon that is identifiable standing by itself. Eg: Audible uses only their icon on the mobile version of their website, while its the full logo on the desktop version.
Find Sisterhood uses just the icon even as a button on their app.
6. Thou shall use Color – augment, define
You know it’s a strong logo design when it works well in black and white and does not need color to carry it forward. Your brand colors then, serve to enhance its strength. That logo then, can easily be used for non-conventional applications like creating a stamp or etching where color usage may not be possible.
There is also a good case for having a light and dark version for use against any background.
Yellow Co. creatively uses a straight line of just one color to anchor the asymmetric letters.
This is how Zola uses color and variations to modify the logo for website and social media. Notice how solid, varying tones of the similar colors are used to create the perception of shadow.
7. Thou shall honor Balance– better visual management
The juxtaposition of colors, varying typefaces and their size and weight influences the overall balance of a logo. Font pairings that contrast, but don’t conflict, as well as words and icon pairings that harmonize and don’t individually steal attention, contribute to a better balance.
Logos can also be iterative and for most businesses big or small, they evolve over time. Before settling on one, take feedback from multiple sources – peers, family, social media groups and forums.
Have a website? Then you should read How to Design a Small Business Website your Customers Love
Here’s a cool tip.
If you decide, after careful consideration, to revamp your logo, share it with your audience as a post or a blog, with a credit to the designer. Behind the scenes and why stories are always endearing and it serves as subtle advertisement and hype around the change. Khan Academy did just that when they changed their logo, with a detailed explanation for the reasons that led to the change.
These are only guidelines to help you create a logo that highlights your brand.
Whatever design you finally settle on – Serif or Sans Serif, stoic or flowy, bold or light – you can rip up the rule book and still win.
A good logo enhances brand image and appeal when it’s both a work of heart and creative business strategy.
And ultimately without a good product a logo can only carry a brand so far.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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