What Do You Need to Know Before You Design Your Own Logo?

By Karen Saunders

Everyone's got 'em. You likely see the "Nike swoosh" logo everywhere you go. And you know the Texaco station at the corner by its distinctive "star." So, you're thinking, "My company needs a logo, too." Maybe you want to design your own logo too.

Why create a logo for your company? Because a logo:

  • Visually represents your company in a graphic form (a picture is worth a thousand words, remember?

  • Instantly communicates your company's essence: what it does and what it stands for

  • Complements your company's ongoing identity package so your customers can recognize it year after year.

But not just any logo will do. A good logo is simple yet sophisticated. Don't be fooled that a logo design that looks simple (like the Texaco "star") has been easy to create. Less is better, but getting to "less" requires a process of combining symbols, colors, typography, negative and positive space into a compact unit. Once these elements have been combined, they have to be refined and the best one selected. That's why designers present several preliminary designs (called comps) for decision-makers to analyze, modify, and then accept.

What should you know about creating the right logo?

Your job as designer or decision-maker is to make sure the logo is a strong, balanced image that communicates clearly and has no clutter. The logo should be bold and easily seen at a glance. For example, on a well-designed logo, strong lines and letters show up better than thin, delicate lines and fonts.

The logo's graphic imagery must be appropriate for the business. The graphic itself should work as a unit with the company name. It should achieve a look that's distinctive, yet not trendy. It's best to avoid trendy type styles and extremely tall or wide shapes. You want your logo to look good for a long time.

Choose an appropriate spot color (or two) and make note of its ink formula. The formula is a blend of various inks that's given a PMS number so the color combination is easily communicated to the printer. You'll refer to that PMS number when you print jobs in the future so you can be sure the color on your logo will consistently be the same.

What elements make a successful logo? Here are 10 logo design tips that professionals use:

1. Simple, yet sophisticated

2. Distinctive, bold, and graphic (no thin lines)

3. Not extremely tall or wide

4. Not trendy or old-fashioned

5. Looks in balance

6. Works well in all sizes

7. Works well in color or black and white

8. Graphic element and name work together as a unit

9. Communicates your business clearly

10. Uses graphics and fonts appropriate for your business

A powerful logo is the first step in pulling together your visual brand. Did you know that a tag line is as essential as a logo? Be sure you have a memorable tag line that complements your logo.

Read other articles and learn more about Karen Saunders.

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