How to design a logo: a guide for non-designers

Logo: ‘A symbol or other small design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.’ – Oxford Dictionaries

We think a logo is more than this Oxford Dictionaries definition suggests. A logo isn’t just a symbol. Your logo is your biggest brand ambassador. It represents your brand, and it’s how your customers (or potential customers) recognise you as a brand. Therefore, your logo design needs to be simple and memorable, but it also needs to encapsulate who you are as a brand, and what your company or organisation stands for. In this article we’re going to run through how to design a logo in five key steps.

Step #1: know your brand

The brand of your company or organisation is how it visually presents itself to the public, but it’s more than just design. Brand also includes the voice of your company and your brand personality. It’s how people think about and talk about your company. Your logo design needs to reflect this brand identity, and so you need to be clear on what your brand is before you get into logo design.

If you aren’t sure where to start with this, ask yourself (or your team) the following questions:

  • Why is it important that you exist as a company or organisation?
  • What problem(s) are you solving for your customers?
  • What makes your company or organisation unique?
  • What differentiates you from competitors within your market?
  • What beliefs or values are important to you?

Step #2: get inspired

Before you jump into logo design, get inspired by looking at the logos of other brands. There might be brands you already know of which you love the logos of. You can also take a look at sites like Pinterest, Behance, or Dribbble which contain lots of branding and logo examples. Make a mood board (digitally or a physical board) of your favourite logos, and try to understand what it is about these logo designs that you like.

Alongside this mood board, try brainstorming a list of words which describe your brand and a list of images which depict your product or organisation best. This will help you to come up with ideas for a logo design that will tell the story behind your company or organisation.

Airbnb: telling your brand story through a logo

An example of a logo design which tells a strong brand story is the logo of Airbnb. In 2014 they rebranded the company, rolling out a new logo design which focused on the idea of ‘belonging’ as the centre of Airbnb’s brand – the idea that, through staying in people’s homes rather than a traditional hotel, a traveller could feel at home anywhere. To represent this, they developed a new symbol which they describe as the ‘universal symbol of belonging’.

 

 

Step #3: choose your style

There are a few different styles of logo design which you may which to use. The most common options are:

  • Words only. These logo designs are known as wordmarks or logotypes, and contain only words, usually the name of the company or organisation. An example of a logo Monchü has worked on is the Pets As Therapy logo.
  • Icon or symbol. Also known as pictorial marks or logo symbols, these logos represent the brand using an image or icon. These can be paired with your company name. An example of a logo Monchü has worked on is the Outcider logo, which uses a familiar image of an apple to represent their cider product.
  • Abstract image. You might want to design your own icon or symbol to visually represent your company, moving away from existing images to create your own meaning.  An example of a logo Monchü has worked on is the Estia Wellspace logo, using geometric shapes to represent the relationship between mind, body, and heart.

In terms of the style of your logo design, you’ll also want to consider:

  • Colour: what colour(s) will best represent your brand and resonate with your target audience? Remember that there’s psychology and emotion behind how we respond to different colours, and try to take this into account. For instance, the colour red is usually associated with excitement, passion, or anger, whereas blue is a calming and cool colour, and brown indicates a vintage, handmade, rugged brand.
  • Style: what style of logo design will best represent your brand and resonate with your target audience? You might opt for a modern and minimalist design with lots of white space and minimal colour usage, or you might go for a fun and quirky style with cartoon iconography.
  • Typography: what style of font do you want to use in your logo design? And how many fonts will you use? We would recommend a maximum of two fonts so that your logo design doesn’t get too complex.

Step #4: tools and tricks

Now that you have lots of inspiration and a good idea of the style, colour(s), font(s) that you want to use, it’s time to actually design your logo. So how do you design a logo if you aren’t a graphic designer?

There are several free and paid-for logo maker tools out there to help you design your logo. Some examples are Logo Crisp, Logojoy, DesignMantic and GraphicSprings. If you’re looking for a really simple logo design, and you don’t have any budget to spare, this could be a good option. They usually have a set of fonts, colours, and images that you can choose from to create different logos. However, you should be aware that they will always be fairly simplistic, and may not reflect your brand in the way you want your logo design to. They’re also commonly used, meaning that your logo design may not be unique to your brand.

Alternatively, you could choose to work with a graphic designer or creative agency to design your logo. In this case, you’ll need to write a brief for the creative agency to work from. You can include in this your mood boards and inspiration, as well as guidance on the styles, colours, and font types you’d like to use. The creative agency designers will then be able to create a set of initial logo design concepts for you to review.

As your logo design is at the heart of your brand identity, is one of the first steps in setting up your business or organisation, and will eventually be a marker which allows customers to recognise your company, we’d recommend working with a professional graphic designer or creative agency for your logo design. It’s central to your business, and therefore worth a lot, so we’d recommend spending your budget on this rather than going down the amateur route.

Step #5: review your options

Once you’ve had a play around using a logomaker, or received a set of logo concepts back from your creative agency, you’ll have some options for your future logo. Now you need to evaluate these options to decide which logo design from these options works best for your brand. Some key questions to ask yourself at this stage are:

  • Can you immediately tell what the logo says, or what the image/icon is?
  • Is it easy to understand what the brand stands for, or what product they are selling?
  • Is it simple and memorable?
  • Is it timeless or will it need to be redesigned soon after?
  • Will it work across the different channels that you need it to? For instance, if you’re going to be getting your logo embroidered on clothing, you’ll need a much more simple design than if your logo will primarily exist on your company website.
  • Does it fit with your target audience?
  • Does it look different to competitors within your market?

If you’re unsure about any of the logo options, or they just don’t feel quite right, remove them from the shortlist. If that doesn’t immediately leave you with one winner, then take a step back for a few hours, and then come back to the logo design options. You might also wish to show the options to other people to get their thoughts and impressions. If you do this, make sure it’s someone that has a deep level of understanding about your brand and what you stand for so that you’re getting valuable feedback.

Once you have one that you’ve sat with for a while, and that you still feel happy with, that’s your final logo design! You can then work on improving and finalising this design with the creative agency you’re working with, for instance trying different colour options or layouts.

Do you have a great idea for your logo design, but want to work with a brilliant creative agency to bring that idea to life? Get in touch, and one of the Monchü team will get back to you.

Selection of logos