A good logo can make all the difference for your business. Customers recognize brands with powerful, memorable logos. To create an unforgettable logo, you must choose the right colors, typography, and design that resonate deeply with your brand.
Your logo will appear on your website, merchandise, social media posts, business cards, and many other places, so it must be adaptable and visually appealing across platforms. Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience in graphic design, learning how to make a good logo can feel daunting, but we’re here to help.
You want your logo to feel unique to everything your brand stands for, but it should also be simple and easily recognizable. This sounds a bit impossible, but it doesn’t need to be. Use our 10-step guide below to learn about developing a winning logo for your brand.
1. Understand the Power of a Standout Logo
Before diving into our logo creation techniques, you must understand why a logo is essential to your brand. Your logo often creates a first impression on customers, allowing you to pique someone’s interest. Your first impression should communicate your brand, what you sell, and the niche you wish to dominate.
Your logo helps grab customers’ attention and stand out. In a competitive landscape, you only have a second or two to differentiate yourself from other items on the shelf. Your logo is one of the best ways to communicate your company’s message and your product’s value.
Your logo delivers the foundation of your brand’s value. A successful logo tells a story that speaks to customers on an emotional level. Between the fonts, colors, and elements you choose, your logo can ignite feelings of excitement, adventure, hunger, coziness, and much more.
A standout logo is recognizable and unforgettable. When you develop a successful logo, customers create positive associations between it and their experience with your product, triggering memories anytime they see your logo online or while shopping. Memorable logos foster loyalty, allowing you to become a brand everyone wants to devote themselves to and be seen with.
A well-designed logo is key to brand recognition but requires an array of elements to pull off successfully. Neglecting to balance these elements could result in a logo that does more harm than good. Effective logos share the following characteristics:
- Simple: The best logos feature basic color palettes, clean lines, and simple designs that are easy to remember. Avoid clashing colors and complex drawings that people must squint to view from afar.
- Memorable: If you want to stand out in a crowd, your logo must have eye-catching letters or designs with bold colors.
- On-brand: Your logo should speak to your brand and what you sell. For example, law firms shouldn’t use cartoonish fonts.
- Timeless: Your brand ideally will stick with one primary logo throughout its lifespan, so that logo must stand the test of time. Avoid trendy designs or fonts that will go out of style in a year or two. This is another reason simple always works best.
- Scalable: Your logo must work on a range of physical products and virtual applications, like your website, emails, stickers, banners, and more. You need a versatile and scalable design that looks good in black and white on any surface and in any size.
2. Dive Deep Into Your Brand
Now that you understand how important designing an effective brand symbol is for your business, we can begin the planning stages. Before putting pen to paper, you must dig deep into your brand. A logo will fail to convey your brand’s core values, messaging, and niche if you do not understand these concepts when designing it.
We recommend conducting a thorough brand analysis before designing your logo to get a better idea of what you wish to convey to customers. Your brand analysis should reveal the unique selling proposition of your business, which you can promote with your logo. You can conduct a deep dive into your brand by considering the following items:
- Brand mission: What is your brand’s objective, and how do you plan on serving your audience? Your business should have an action-oriented purpose that goes beyond making money. For example, if you sell shoes made from recycled materials, your mission may be to create great shoes without causing unnecessary environmental harm.
- Brand vision: How do you wish to change your community or the world at large with your company? While your brand mission focuses on your current objectives, the vision looks at your brand’s broader future goals. Keeping both in mind will help you refine the most appropriate and compelling logo for your business.
- Brand values: What types of concepts, ideals, and fundamental beliefs does your brand value? Examples might include ethical sourcing, diversity, quality products, accountability, passion, integrity, change, etc. You should only select brand values that align with your mission, vision, and actions — don’t choose someone else’s just to appear trendy.
- Target audience: Who is your ideal buyer, what problems do they have, and how can you solve them? When defining your target audience, consider specific demographics and interests so you can climb into their heads. Customers want to feel like you are speaking directly to them.
- Unique selling proposition (USP): What sets you apart from every other brand in your industry? Going off the example from above, your USP may be that your shoes come from 100% recycled materials. Your USP will often shape your logo to help you stand out from the competition.
3. Explore Various Logo Approaches
After analyzing your brand, you can begin considering how to make a good logo. You’ll quickly find that there are endless design approaches, making the task a bit overwhelming. To start, we recommend exploring some of the world’s most successful logos to draw inspiration from various design elements.
When thinking of iconic brands and their logos, names like Apple, Amazon, Nike, McDonald’s, Google, Starbucks, NASA, Mastercard, Adidas, Disney, Spotify, Target, and more immediately come to mind. While these brands may all use the elements we discussed above, like simplicity, memorability, relevancy, and versatility, they are also distinct from one another.
The most common types of logos used by iconic brands include the following:
- Emblems: Emblem logos combine images and text to create slightly more complex designs. One of the most popular emblem logos comes from Starbucks, depicting a siren as a metaphor for the allure of caffeine. Emblems create highly visual branding that may not be immediately memorable but can become popular over time.
- Pictorial marks: Pictorial marks are simple, memorable logos depicting one icon that resembles the entire brand. Some of the most popular examples include Apple’s iconic fruit, the Twitter (X) bird, and the Target bullseye.
- Wordmarks: Wordmark logos are entirely letter-based, depicting the brand’s name without images or designs. To create a successful wordmark, you must develop a unique, custom font that brings your brand’s lettering to life. Some successful examples of wordmarks include Google, Amazon, Toys“R”Us, FedEx, NASA, and Coca-Cola.
- Monograms: Monogram logos contain a brand’s acronym or a few letters of the company’s name in a decorative way to create a single, memorable symbol. Some popular monograms include HBO, LG, and HP, which you may notice are all in tech and entertainment. Businesses with longer or otherwise cumbersome brand names often choose monograms to help customers identify with the brand in an easier way.
- Abstract logos: Abstract logos are similar to pictorial marks but do not display obvious symbols representing the brand’s name. Instead, these logos offer more abstract concepts that speak to the brand’s vision, message, and core values. For example, the Nike swoosh may not seem like it has anything to do with the brand, but it represents what Nike wants to create for its target audience: products that are based on action and dynamism.
- Mascot logos: If your brand has a popular mascot, you could consider including it in your logo. A few popular examples of mascot logos include Wendy’s and KFC.
- Combination marks: Combination marks combine wordmarks or monograms with pictorial marks or abstract designs. Essentially, you’re creating a logo with text and graphic features but without the same complexity as an emblem. Lays Chips, Mastercard, and Spotify all use combination marks to make their brands stand out.
4. Fuel Creativity With Research
While researching logos from popular brands can inspire you, you will likely feel overwhelmed by the vast variety. Brands like NASA, Apple, and McDonald’s are creating vastly different products and services, so how does your company fit in? Now that you’ve studied all the different types of logos, it’s time to research industry-specific designs to better understand how to make a good logo for your product.
We recommend studying logo designs from some of the top brands in your industry, including your niche and the broader competitive space. You can look at companies in your area or across the web to find the broadest inspiration. You will need to study diverse sources for the best range of logos, so be sure to look beyond your major competitors to analyze at least a few dozen logos.
The more competitors you study, the more you can ensure your design is unique. You don’t want to accidentally develop a logo that looks similar to a competitor, as this could land you in legal trouble.
When studying competitors, consider the following:
- Which types of logos do your competitors frequently use?
- Do the logos usually have any text, or are they only image-based?
- What types of design elements, icons, or images do you frequently see (e.g., mountains, arrows, food items, etc.)?
- What color palettes do your competitors typically use?
- What types of emotions do the logos ignite?
- Are the logos primarily simple or more complex?
Analyzing dozens or hundreds of competitors can make your head spin. We recommend creating mood boards for visual direction once you enter the design process.
For example, you could create one mood board for logos with fonts that you like, one for your favorite icons, and one for your favorite color palettes. With this strategy, you’ll have a much better idea of the visual direction you’re looking for when sketching designs.
5. Let Ideas Flow on Paper: Why Rough Sketches Are Important
Creating a professional logo always begins with brainstorming. Now that you’ve conducted all your research, we recommend letting your ideas flow on paper with a brainstorming session so you don’t feel restricted by perfect results. All you need is a few colored pencils or pens and a sheet of paper to create rough sketches that can bring your concepts to life.
With rough sketches, you can see whether your ideas will make the visual impact you’re envisioning. Small changes like capitalized versus lowercase letters can dramatically change a logo’s feel and appearance, so be sure to test all these variants on paper to narrow your potential options. Keep your vision boards and brand analysis in front of you as you sketch and try drawing as many possible ideas as you can imagine, then refine from there.
During the rough sketch phase, don’t be too concerned about fonts, colors, or specific details, as all of these items will come to life when transitioning to your graphic designer platform. Right now, focus on the bigger concepts like the type of logo, shape of the design, message it’s conveying, etc.
6. Transition From Sketch to Screen
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas, you can transition to graphic design software. As you bring your sketches to life on screen, you’ll have a much better idea of which one will work best for your brand. Here are a few of the top free and paid options for creating logos:
- Adobe Illustrator: Adobe Illustrator provides a complete logo design tool, though if you have never used Adobe before, you will need to spend time learning the UI. Adobe charges monthly for its design services.
- Inkscape: Inkscape offers an excellent alternative to Adobe, with options to create logos for free.
- Canva: If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use, free tool, we recommend Canva. Canva has a large library of free icons and fonts you can choose from with a simple UI, plus the option to upgrade your account if you want access to premium features.
- AI: Many tools, including Canva, offer AI capabilities to help you develop portions of your design quickly and easily.
Regardless of the software you select, be sure to create a scalable vector graphic (SVG) of your logo to fit all your various applications, including digital and print. An SVG ensures your logo will be adaptable across all platforms and size requirements. Some tools, like Canva, require you to upgrade to download vectorized logos.
7. Craft a Visual Identity
Now that you’ve selected a platform, you can begin refining your logo. Here are a few logo design best practices to keep in mind as you create your visual identity:
- Select a font that aligns with your brand’s personality: The font you select greatly impacts the message your brand conveys. Different fonts can give off friendly, powerful, childlike, adventurous, or inquisitive feelings you must consider. Aside from the font itself, you must think about capitalization, letter kerning and tracking, font size, and boldness, as these adjustments will affect the style.
- Choose your colors wisely: Black-and-white logos often come from highly sophisticated, authoritative, and professional brands, while colorful logos speak to more playful companies. You can do more research on color theory here and consider your competitors’ colors to select your palette wisely. For example, red and yellow color schemes are often associated with fast food chains, while many tech companies have blue logos.
- Consider readability: The font and color scheme you select should be easily readable across all mediums. If you choose a transparent background, the text and images should easily appear in black, white, or different colors. Be sure to test the visibility before finalizing your design.
8. Less Is More
So many elements go into figuring out how to make a good logo that your design can quickly get far more complex than it needs to be. At some point during the design process, you must take a step back and remember the top element of a standout logo we listed above: simplicity.
Is your logo simple, memorable, and easily recognizable? If the answer is yes, great. If not, you may need to consider removing a few elements or going back to the drawing board.
Overly complex designs can dilute your brand’s message. Sometimes, you can cut your company name, a couple of colors, or a few symbols and still convey the same iconic vibe.
9. Perfect It With Input
Not all people see one logo the same way. You’ve been staring at likely dozens of iterations of the logo for potentially days now, so you need additional eyes for more valuable feedback and improvement. We recommend seeking feedback from stakeholders, as you will likely uncover thoughtful ideas you hadn’t considered while designing.
During the input process, you can also conduct usability tests for different applications to see how the logo will appear across your media. For example, if the logo doesn’t look so great on your building’s brick exterior, you may need to do a bit more refining.
The design process is not meant to take one try. You should spend time iterating the design until everyone agrees that it’s reached the best state it can possibly be. The more time and effort you put into the process now, the more benefits you will reap later on.
10. Bring Your Vision to Life
After spending time collaborating on your design, you can refine the chosen concept and complete the logo. At this point, you should create a few versatile versions of your logo for different use cases, including transparent, white, and black backgrounds. You may also decide to create the logo in a few orientations, including landscape, portrait, and square, depending on your brand’s needs.
When you’re ready to download the file, be sure to select user-friendly formats that adapt well across all devices and platforms. In most cases, you will need an SVG that automatically scales images up or down without compromising quality. Many recommend choosing the Pantone Matching System for your colors, as it will not adjust color warmth and vibrancy across system settings, allowing your logo to maintain unity on all devices.
Celebrating the Journey
Now that we’ve reached the end of our DIY logo design guide, you’re ready to begin designing. Creating an impactful logo involves thorough research, creativity, collaboration, and innovation. A thoughtfully designed logo can give your brand a strong identity, boosting loyalty and harnessing success.
Also, be sure to remember that crafting a logo isn’t an easy process, it takes time and many iterations to finally reach something that you can confidently say represents everything that you want about your brand. But, no matter how long it takes, if you end up creating the perfect logo, your brand will feel that success for years to come.
I hope that this guide proves useful to you in some capacity, and at the very least, you can leave after reading this article knowing more than you knew before about crafting a logo. I wish you luck in your logo-designing efforts!