Designers and graphic artists are always being asked to create logos for their clients. This task might seem simple at first glance, but it’s actually a long and rigorous process. Designing a logo is very different from other types of art.
Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.' - Jef L. Richards – professor of American advertising
Do you want to learn to draw a logo but don’t know where to start?
Discover all the necessary steps in the creative process and mistakes to avoid so that you can design a logo which will stand out and make a difference.
A logo design shouldn’t just be attractive – it must also have a meaning and be memorable and recognisable to everyone. The graphic design of a professional logo leaves nothing up to chance!
What Does a Logo Do?
Logos are indispensable! After all, a logo is the visual or corporate identity, the branding of a company. It is an image that connects the company to its target audience
Without saying much at all, this little picture, the company logo, allows the consumer to identify not only the company name, but also its product and culture.
A good logo needs to convey a message, and this forms the basis of all visual communication.
The colours of the logo will usually follow a scheme which will branch across all communication platforms and media related to the company, such as business cards, letterheads, flyers, websites, and brochures.
- So to put it simply, a company’s logo is a crucial and integral part of all of its marketing and communications. It allows the general public to identify a company and its characteristics at a glance, and lets them build the ink with the company’s values as well.
Logos have an important impact on the public – so much so that there is even a board game which is entirely dedicated to them! Children are often really good at this game, which is proof that images have a real impact and can remain in the collective unconscious at a very young age.
Characteristics of a Successful Logo
Designing a logo shouldn’t be left up to chance – it should consciously meet several essential criteria to perform its purpose.
Before you get started with creating your image to represent your company, it is important to keep in mind your company objectives and values when you make your initial sketches.
- A logo must be unique
The is obviously your starting point. The logo must be your own creation, something truly original. If it looks like another logo, it will confuse its audience and you might even be accused of plagiarism. So yes, you’ve got to show some originality when creating a logo – a bit like designing a tattoo!
- A logo must be timeless
Watch out for fashion trends that will pass quickly. A logo must be designed to last and be throughout time. Even though it can be modified if necessary as the business evolves, it must retain its graphic identity – which is why it needs such careful consideration in its conception.
- A logo must be simple
A logo must be easily remembered, as it’s only meant to be seen very quickly. The idea is to identify the company at just a glance. If a logo is too complicated with too many levels of reading or detail, it will not fulfil its function.
- A logo must be legible in black and white
Because the logo of a company is not always reproduced in full colour, it’s important that it remains legible even in black and white or duotone. Be careful with gradients and shades of colours that may make the logo unusable in black and white.
- A logo must catch the eye
A logo should not go unnoticed - it needs to catch the eye and draw us in. This is one of the biggest challenges when creating a logo. Finding the colours and the graphics that will have an impact on the public is a central part of the thought process.
- A logo must adapt to all media
A logo must remain visible and readable regardless of the medium it’s integrated in. Have you ever noticed small logos printed at the bottom of posters? Some stand out and are easily identifiable, whereas others become almost non-existence. Experiment with different media to make sure your logo works flexibly.
You could also follow our guide to drawing anime and manga if that's more your style.
How Do I Create a Logo?
Before launching straight into the creative phase, you’ll need to have a serious think about the main elements that will characterise the logo.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to draft out some versions of your logo and compare them to see how these elements work best.
The reflection phase of designing a logo
There are some important specifications when approaching logo elements. A logo can be hardly or quite detailed, depending on your design, but it’s important to look at the essential features of the business to help you in this decision.
It is also useful to have a look at the competition in your field or market so that you can make your logo stand out among the rest.
The most important points to remember when creating a new visual identity are:
- Choosing a colour scheme
Each colour has a meaning, and so the choice of colour is often used to represent the activity of the company or the sector in which it operates (green is commonly used for ecology and nature, for example). Colour is also a great way to catch the eye and convey a message.
- Integrating the company name in the logo
This is a choice that needs to be made, as it’s completely up to the designer’s own taste. Some brands are able to transmit their identity in their logo without having to mention the name of the brand, like Apple’s iconic apple, for example.
- Deciding whether or not to add text to the logo
In many cases, multiple versions of a logo are created, with or without a baseline, according to their use. In some circumstances, a logo might require some additional text, whereas in others just the image will suffice. In all cases, the images must be coherent and the company identifiable.
- The format and direction of the logo
You need to think about the length and height of the image, and whether it will be round or square in shape, for example.
- The font used for text
Try to use original typography if possible, to make the logo as unique as possible. A well-chosen font will transmit essential information about the company clearly to its audience.
In businesses, brainstorming is a commonly used method of asking the right questions, determining ideas and making the first steps towards development, and it’s just as good a method when drawing too. You can try different ideas the main image - as a comic book figure, an abstract design, or even just letters.
To find inspiration it’s also important to do some research and look into the world of graphic design.
First sketches of a logo
When we talk about the first sketches, it’s because the creation phase begins with just a pencil and a free hand. You’ll start placing your different elements together and rework them in several sketches until you find what works.
When it comes to creating a logo, remember that the first idea you draw will probably not be the final product.
Why? Simply because the first idea is often too conditioned, and doesn’t have enough originality. Once you’ve experimented a bit, your logo will become more unique and original.
The first ideas that come to your mind are the same as most people’s. In other words, it’s important to move away from these ideas and refine them in order for your own graphic design to be distinctive.
It’s not an easy task conveying one or more messages in just a single image. Every detail counts. And that’s what makes a logo powerful. Colour, typography, format, text, negative space – each element must serve a purpose and build a message to reflect the company.
Graphic design is all about elements working in harmony, including shape, proportion and symmetry – a bit like drawing a face or a hand.
Some logos are directly inspired by the Fibonacci sequence - the famous golden ratio, or the divine proportion. This is the case for logos such as Apple, BP, Pepsi and National Geographic, for example.
During the creation phase, it is important to take a step back. Leave your work to one side and come back to it later with a fresh eye. The project will mature naturally and new ideas will emerge.
Finalising your logo
A logo only becomes a logo when all the elements mentioned above come together in an overall harmony.
Graphic designers know this well having studied various forms and experimenting with different models – graphic design can’t be improvised.
The attention to detail from a professional perspective will certainly be different to that of a typical person, but if the harmony of a logo isn’t perfect then it won’t attract the attention of a typical person, which is what a logo should do.
Whether you use a creative agency, a graphic studio or a freelance graphic designer to create your logo, one thing is for sure: a professional will be able to explain their creation and justify their choices.
In all cases, a logo must be submitted to several people before being validated. Everyone will have a different perception, which will help you make any necessary adjustments and finalise the perfect logo.
Why not try your hand at drawing a 3D logo for your company?
What Software Should I Use to Create a Logo?
Logo design is a creative endeavour that can’t be rushed or improvised. For this reason, many people like to use software to help them create the perfect logo.
You can easily find online logo design sites that let you easily create a logo in just a few clicks. For sites like this you don’t need any specific knowledge of graphics, or even how to use a logo generator, as it’s all so simple to navigate.
Is this really the right solution?
A company’s logo is made to withstand time and to make a lasting impression. That’s why it’s so critical to create a professional and high-quality logo which will stand out and catch people’s attention. It’s not enough to just browse image libraries and add a name!
When creating a logo, it’s also crucial to make sure that it can work in all possible formats in order to be applicable to different media too. Creatives tend to use Adobe Illustrator, a vector graphics software specifically for creating logos, icons, drawings and typography.
If you’re looking for a free graphic design software, Gimp is perfect for your needs.
Photoshop is an image editing software that works with a grid and pixilation system that doesn’t quite offer the same possibilities as specific graphic design software does. Vector drawing software can reduce and enlarge images in high definition without losing quality.
Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Famous Logos?
To finish up, let’s do a little test and see if you can find the hidden messages in some examples of famous logos that we all see on a daily basis.
Toblerone: a bear hides in the mountain, in reference to the emblem of Bern, the Swiss city where the chocolate is made.
The Tour de France: do you see the stylised cyclist? It’s in the letters O, U, and R and the front wheel of the bike is the orange circle.
FedEx: an arrow is hidden between the E and the X, in the negative space of the logo.
Carrefour : Here again we can see that the C for Carrefour appears in the negative space of the logo.
Continental: The C and the O form a wheel in black and white.
PMU : You can see the horse at the front of the logo, but can you see the punter brandishing his ticket? Look a bit closer at the green shape in the white horse.
And now it’s up to you to find your inspiration and get started!