Creating your own logo may seem challenging, until you consider how Coca Cola created its own famous design. The soda giant’s original imprint was hand drawn by a bookkeeper way back when after he observed, “...the two Cs would look well in advertising.” Of course, many businesses pay to carefully craft their corporate image – with great results. Like the arrow hidden in plain sight in FedEx’s logo. Or Tostitos' semi-obscure, salsa-dipping amigos. The best have that kind of subtle complexity – and there’s no reason yours can’t as well. It’s just going to take some work.
Ask Yourself Key Questions
To start, think about your logo as the public face of your company. Should it convey strength because you install security systems? Should it suggest care and sensitivity because you’re a pet sitter? What you do provides tons of ready-made ideas about your logo's appearance. But do some brainstorming; you don't want to settle for the obvious.
An experienced design pro hired to do the job would research your business, competitors and past branding efforts, among other things. In fact, in his book, The Secret Life of Logos: Behind the Design of 80 Great Logos, famed designer Leslie Carbarga lists 13 questions firms use to pinpoint their approach, such as, “Choose three words you want people to associate with your business when they see your new identity,” and, “To whom does the identity need most to appeal?” Both are important considerations.
A logo should be simple, memorable, enduring, versatile and appropriate, according to the folks at Creative Bloq, a design website.
Consider a Type Solution
Speaking of simple: If you’re DIYing it, strongly consider what’s called a typographical solution – literally building your logo from the letters of your company name or initials. This approach allows you to experiment by choosing different fonts on your available software until a few really jump out. Sound too simple? I Love Typography blog author John Boardley puts it this way: “Typography is not a science. Typography is an art.” And who says you can’t be the one holding the paint brush?
Keep in mind that different fonts and typefaces evoke different “feelings.” For example, bold ones suggest strength; italics suggest action; script can be elegant. Modifying the font or typeface – such as stretching or shrinking it and expanding space between letters – also can create interesting, high-impact effects. Using lowercase letters lends a casual feel – as in Facebook's logo. All caps can have a more commanding presence, such as the famously blue-striped one for IBM.
Don’t believe the hype about type? One scientific study found that the very same satirical New York Times stories printed in the fonts Arial and Times New Roman evoked different reactions among college students. Those in Times New Roman were perceived as more funny and even angrier than those in Arial. You don't have to be limited by your software's current font selections, however. There are plenty of free sites to aid in experimentation, such as Font Space and FontSquirrel. Mixing fonts can be tricky, though, so remember: Less is more.
Add a Dash of Color
Now that you’ve got the right font, it’s critical that you pick the correct color. How important? Research shows that “subconscious judgments” about people or products are made within the first 90 seconds – and that "between 62 and 90 percent of that judgment is based on color.” Before taking a spin on the color wheel, learn more about how they can work for you. Check out this chart called “The Psychology of Color” by Carey Jolliffe. Just don’t go Crayola crazy: Too many colors will increase printing costs – and make duplication on signs, trucks, shirts and other venues more complex. One or two colors are said to work best.
Explore Memorable Images
A logo that uses both type and an image is more challenging, but not impossible. To kick your creativity into gear, check out some of Pixar's offerings. The logo for Toy Story is a type solution that sits on a red almost rectangle, like a toy box. Finding Nemo has a tiny fish in the letter O and a wave-like white line underneath. Add your own photos or art work for a personal touch. If you’re semi-handy with computer programs, you might try your skill with Pixlr.com. The free version will allow you to “transform everyday images into works of art” for a logo all your own.
Some recommend registering the final product at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- How Coke Got Its Logo
- Tech Logos Through the Age
- Form Follows Function
- 65 expert logo design tips: Here's everything you need to know to take your logo design skills to the next level.
- On Choosing Type
- Emotional and persuasive perception of fonts.
- Color and Design Psychology for Branding
- Psychology of Color Infographic
- Pixar Movie Posters
- How to Create a Logo
- ) “The Secret Life of Logos: Behind the Design of 80 Great Logos” and “Logo, Font & Lettering Bible” by Leslie Carbarga
- The Ten Commandments of Logo Design
Brian Paul Kaufman has straddled the media and business worlds. He not only owned a logistics company and served as editor of The Business Journal of New Jersey, but co-authored such Rodale, Inc. book titles as "Command Respect." His first serious business gig: Cutting a neighbor's lawn for $3 with a Sears push mower.