Going round in circles trying to design your business’ logo? For small business owners, design isn’t always your first skill – so if you’re struggling with how to build your visual brand, our pro tips can help.
Logo design can seem like a bit of a mysterious art, but you don’t have to be Nike or BMW to make something that works. Here are some tips to take the guesswork out of creating your first logo, even if you’re a complete beginner.
If you’re really at sea, find a friendly designer or illustrator to chat to – but don’t be afraid to dive right in. Thanks to the variety of tools around it’s also possible to DIY at least a working draft. Web-based tools like Vectr, Method Draw and Janvas are excellent for those on a budget. They allow you to create scalable vector images without buying or downloading a single byte of software. There are tons of tutorials available online too.
Before you start creating, see what others in your space are doing with their logos. This will help you create something that stands out from the rest. You’ll also be able to note any design trends that brands like yours have in common. You might see something you want to use as a starting point to create your own twist on a theme. Setting up a mood board on a curation site like Pinterest can help you gather your research together in one place.
Your logo needs to look equally good on a big event stand banner and a tiny business card. That means not too cluttered, not too plain, and something that works on its own or with text. Jot down a list of places your logo could appear, offline and online, to help you decide on the right balance for your design.
If you’re designing your first logo, you might also be in the first stages of shaping your brand. Think about a color palette that starts with your logo and can be extended across other areas like stationery and packaging. Will you have one main color, or two or three? Is your logo monochrome (or if it’s not, will it look good if it’s printed or copied in black and white?) For a guide to colors that play well together, have a look at Paletton, an online color-wheel tool.
A notepad, a pen, and a little time spent on low-key doodling can help your ideas come to life. Even if drawing isn’t within your normal comfort zone, doodles can help you develop your ideas – and the ones that end up in the waste paper basket are just as useful as the ones that don’t. Knowing what you don’t want is as important as finding what works.
A lightbulb that stands for ideas, a plant that symbolises growth, a piggy bank for savings… the world of graphics is full of ideas that have been worn out through overuse. Your competitor research should help you steer clear of common motifs in your specialist area, and for general clichés, a look around any stock image site or clip-art collection should give you an idea of overdone tropes to avoid.
A quick glance back in time reveals fundamental ideas that can help give your design the classical elements of success. The Bauhaus movement of the 20th century identified links between basic shapes, emotions and colours – Kandinksy’s famous ‘triangle, square and circle’ form and colour theory, for example. Further back in history, the Golden Ratio, a mathematical principle that governs aesthetically pleasing proportions, has been in use since the days of the Ancient Greeks. It might seem high-brow, but using one of these as a starting point can lead to some really pleasing designs.
Finally, it’s time to show your design to friends, family and any trusted communities you’re part of online or offline. Gather feedback and use it to fine-tune your design – or simply enjoy the praise and encouragement for your awesome new logo.