4 Steps to Creating a Logo

If you are in the market for a new logo design or perhaps even a redesign, you may feel overwhelmed.

I’m sure you’ve done a bit of research and compiled a selection of logo designs you really love however you are unsure of what you’d like for your company.Whenever my clients are having a tough time boiling down the most important factors to consider, I tell them… take a breather, and come back to this with a fresh eye.

Then, make a list.

These are the 4 most important aspects to talk over and consider.

1. FONT STYLE

I typically categorize font styles into 6 categories:

▸ serif
▸ sans serif
▸ handwritten
▸ script
▸ handwritten script
▸ typewriter

6 different font styles explained: serif, sans serif, handwritten, handwritten script, script, typewriter

There are many other sub-categories or descriptive words you can choose to use (for example: italic, brush, calligraphy, stencil, etc.) but these are the most widely-used and cover 90% of all font styles.

Understanding Font Weight and Kerning

Font kerning is the spacing between the letters. You can have anywhere from very tight kerning to standard or loose.

Font weight describes the thickness of the letters. Many font styles come available in different font weights i.e. heavy, bold, normal, light,  extra light. However, some fonts are available in only one weight. Designers can often edit standard fonts to be lighter or heavier, within reason.

2. COLOR PALETTE

Color Wheel

Source: Aaron Klopp

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first known writers to examine color theory in the late 1400’s. In 1666, Isaac Newton introduced his Theory of Color, including the primary colors. A hundred years later, secondary, tertiary, and the concept of warm and cool colors were added to our current understanding of color theory.

Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten, German Painter 1888-1967

Color choice can evoke a certain mood and bring about a subliminal psychological response. Color can also evoke different responses for different people, and may have different meanings cross-culturally.

Consider your audience and what you want to say about your company. Do you want a bold, energetic design? Consider warms like yellow and red. Do you want a subtle, soothing design? Consider cool tones like blue or green.

Design Seeds, Pantone and Colour Lovers are a few places I’d strongly recommend to review potential color palettes.

3. ILLUSTRATION / IMAGERY

Logos can either A.) include an illustration or B.) be typographic only (this is called a logotype).

Logo with Illustration vs. Logotype

Think about the ways you plan to use your logo. Printing on business cards? Placing it on the header of your website? Using it for a Facebook profile image? Printing on t-shirts? Having a stamp made?

If a design is too detailed, the versatility may be compromised. Most logos need to be scalable, meaning they work well in a very small format as well as a very large format. If a design is too detailed, you may need various versions of the logo (text only, illustration and text, condensed version of the design, icon version, etc.)

4. HOW YOU WANT THE DESIGN TO FEEL

What kind of impression should the logo give: unique, professional, handmade, artistic, corporate, organic, clean, precise, balanced, symmetrical, layered, simple?

You should try to consider what a potential viewer may feel within the first 10 seconds of seeing your design. Research conducted by EyeTracking, Inc. shows that a consumer can make a choice in as little as a third of a second.

Who you are and what you do

A logo should quickly embody who you are and what you do. How can you visually achieve this?

 

RGB vs. CMYK

This is a question I answer on the regular. What is the difference between RGB and CMYK? And what the heck does it mean? RGB (red, green, blue) color is meant for the web; these colors are written using light on screen. Colors often appear very vibrant, saturated and bright in RGB. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) is built color on paper using 4 colors of ink. Color in CMYK tends to be a bit lighter and less vivid, despite what we might see on the monitor.

RGB and CMYK diagram

If you change an RGB file to CMYK, the colors will shift.

RGB vs CMYK image

Notice the immediate color difference?

To make absolutely sure something prints a specific color, the use of a Pantone-specific color with a professional printer is required.

Pantone Guide 

Pantone Swatch Guide

You have to specify a Pantone color which only certain professional printers can do. Pantone colors are how corporations and big businesses ensure they have the same color throughout (like Facebook Blue, for example.)

The Easiest Way Around This
If you are doing your own printing or having something printed locally, the very best bet is trial and error. If a file prints a little lighter and/or muted, then you edit it on screen to be a bit darker so that it prints a bit darker. You go back and forth until the file prints with colors you like. In the image editing software of your choice, try adjusting the saturation to be a bit higher. Sometimes bumping up the contract  will also yield a brighter printed image.

Are you using a Mac? Colors on a mac screen are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). So, you know your monitor is always calibrated correctly and colors appear as they should. If you are using a PC, calibrating your monitor may help.

Keep in mind that the brightness and contrast setting on your monitor will also have an effect on the appearance of color- both Mac and PC.