Designing a Great Logo: 10+ Pro Tips and Resources

Designing a Great Logo: 10+ Pro Tips and Resources

So you need a logo for yourself or a client? An easy enough task, right? All you need to do is find a nice font for the company name, maybe add an icon, simple! Well, yeah… if you want the logo to suck.

I’ve lost count of the number of times the guys on our design team here at WPMU DEV have rolled their eyes at the mere suggestion that it’s easy to make a logo. It actually takes a lot of time and research to create a logo that looks great and also successfully conveys a business’s identity.

So how do you design a stunning logo?

In this post, we’ll go through some tips and tools to help you research and design the perfect logo.

#1. Understand Your Brand and Do Your Research

If you’re designing a logo for yourself you should know your brand inside out. But if you’re designing a logo for a client, it’s important to keep in mind that a logo isn’t just an image but an introduction to a brand. It needs to convey what the company represents.

Spend some time getting to know the client, their business, who they are and what they do. Talk to your client about what kind of design they want, ask them to draw some simple sketches to convey their ideas, and also ask for examples of logo designs they like so you can get a clearer picture of their expectations.

#2. Know Your Audience – and Tell a Story

A powerful logo is one that doesn’t just identify a brand, but also has a deeper, hidden meaning that appeals to the target audience.

Take, for example, Airbnb’s logo redesign. Putting the icon shape controversy aside, a lot of thought and research went into the design. Nicknamed “The Bélo” after the brand idea of belonging, it is an abstraction of four principles – people, places, love, and Airbnb – that have been blended into a single “A” shape.

Airbnb's old logo on the left and the redesign "Bélo" on the right.
Airbnb’s old logo on the left and the redesign “Bélo” on the right.

Put simply, the logo represents the idea that Airbnb brings people together and helps them belong somewhere, wherever they may be in the world.

“It’s a symbol for going where the locals go—the cafe that doesn’t bother with a menu, the dance club hidden down a long alleyway, the art galleries that don’t show up in the guidebooks. It’s a symbol for people who want to welcome into their home new experiences, new cultures, and new conversations.” – Airbnb logo announcement.

#3. Keep It Simple

Simple logos are everywhere in the business world and stand the test of time. There are plenty of examples – Apple, Nike, Fed Ex, Google, McDonalds, Coca Cola. I bet as your read those names the logos popped into your head.

Three very recognizable logos.
Three very recognizable logos.

A simple logo will help your brand be easily and instantly recognizable, versatile and memorable.

#4. Color is Key

Color plays an important role, connecting to our feelings in a unique way, making it a powerful marketing tool when making design decisions. So your color choices need to reflect the message and meaning you want to convey with your logo.

Colors and the emtions they can elicit.
Colors and the emotions they can elicit.

According to a Kissmetric infographic, 85% of shoppers base their decision on color alone. And according to the same infographic, proper use of color leads to an 80% increase in brand recognition. So when designing your logo, it’s important to consider color theory and the psychology of color. You can read more about it in our post Using the Psychology of Color to Boost Your WordPress Website Conversions, but here’s a quick run-down of what each color represents:

  • Red: energetic, sexy, bold
  • Orange: creative, friendly, youthful
  • Yellow: sunny, inventive, optimism
  • Green: growth, organic, instructional
  • Blue: professional, medical, tranquil, trustworthy
  • Purple: spiritual, wise, evocative
  • Black: credible and powerful
  • White: simple, clean, pure
  • Pink: fun and flirty
  • Brown: rural, historical, steady

It’s important to also think of tones along with colors. An effective logo should work in black and white as well as in color. If you rely solely on color to convey your message, you may want to re-think your design and how you could better express the same meaning in monotones.

#5. Keep it Flexible

An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications. You want it to be flexible enough so it not only looks great at the top of a website, but also printed on business cards, t-shirts and anywhere else your client might want to use their logo. For this reason, it’s best to design your logo in vector format so it can be scaled to any size.

#6. Research Current Trends

It’s good to know what all the cool kids are doing. Make a list of competitors in your or your client’s industry and check our their designs.

Avoid cliches. Apples to represent education and speech bubbles for chat and discussions are old ideas that have been used time and time again, so steer clear of these ideas and come up with your own original concept. So many designers fall into the trap of recycling current trends, so much so that there are even generators for creating hipster logos.

Some fantastic sites worth checking out for the latest logo design trends and also inspiration include:

Just remember: taking note of current trends doesn’t mean you have to follow them – you can still go against the grain or even start your own trend. You’ll just know what you’re competing against.

#7. Resist the Urge to “Borrow”

This should go without saying, but don’t steal, copy or borrow other designers’ work. Just don’t do it. Too often, lazy “designers” will copy an image and change a few colors, passing off the work as their own. You might fall in love with a design or the work of someone you admire and want to imitate your style, but the whole point of a logo is to be original and unique.

#8. Ensure the Design is Appropriate

This goes back to knowing your audience. If you’re creating a logo for a business that sells fishing rods, it would be appropriate to use a rugged design and color scheme, however, you wouldn’t use the same design for, say, a yoga studio.

#9. Choose Your Fonts Carefully

You know Comic Sans? Yeah, don’t use it. The same goes for Palatino. I’ve seen it used so many times on flyers, not to mention Arial and Georgia.

Typography can make it break a logo. You might want to use an existing font or a custom typeface. Either way, don’t get gimmicky. The key is to keep is simple and classy and above all readable.

Simple Tools for Creating Logos

There are some fantastic free and easy to use tools available to help you get up and running with a logo in minutes. Here are a couple of my favorites.

#10. Squarespace Logos

In less than a minute, you can create a slick logo and see how it will look on business cards, your website and t-shirts with Squarespace’s easy to use logo creator. Just enter your business name and pick an icon. Seriously, it doesn’t get any quicker or easier than this.

#11. Canva

Graphic design app Canva also offers a fantastic tool for creating logos. The logo creator provides hundreds of templates to edit and customize using simple drag and drop and you can upload your own images add text.

Get Someone Else To Do It: Affordable Logo Design

If after reading through this post you’ve decided creating your own logo is just not worth the time and effort, why not get someone else to design it for you? Fortunately, there are lots of services online where you can get a logo made, or you can just check out one of these two marketplaces.

#12. 99designs

99designs works on the idea of putting designers against each other as part of a “contest.” Here’s how it works: you write a design brief about your business and the work that you want designed, you decide how much you’re willing to pay, you launch a content, designers submit designs, and you pick your favorite and continue refining the design with the winner.

#13. Fiverr

Fiverr is a freelance services marketplace where you can get just about anything done or made for you, everything from voice overs and animation to psychic readings, algebra lessons and, yes, design. Pricing starts at $5. All you need to do is search for “logo design” in the search bar at the top of the page and choose a designer you want to work with.

For more on where to get a custom logo, check out  5 Affordable Places to Get a Custom Designed Logo.

Designing a Great Logo Takes Time and Thought

As you can see, creating logos takes more than just picking a font and pairing it with an obvious image, i.e. a skyscraper for a building developer. It takes research and knowledge of the client’s business and target audience, as well as careful consideration of fonts and any accompanying imagery.

However, there are many tools and marketplaces available where you can design your own logo or have someone create one for you – check out 99designs and Fiverr if you want to get a logo designed on the cheap, otherwise Squarespace’s logo creator is a fun app if you want to quickly throw something together yourself.

Have you designed a logo before? Which of the tips above do you find useful and what tips can you offer to others? Let us know in the comments below.

Raelene Morey

Raelene Morey Raelene is the Founder of Words By Birds, a digital writing agency that works with startups, SaaS, B2B, and WordPress businesses on turning tech speak into words that convert. She was formerly the managing editor at WPMU DEV. A computer science grad turned newspaper journalist, when she’s not taming browser tabs, she likes brunching and bushwalking.