How to Design a Logo From Start to Finish (Complete Guide)
This post was last updated on December 24, 2020.
A right of passage for anyone starting their own business, creating a logo is an essential ingredient for effective branding, building recognition and dominating the market in any industry.
When you embark on your own logo design process, you’ve got to do it right. It’s an undertaking that takes time, thought, creativity and collaboration - and it’s 100% worth it. Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t need a design background or a big budget for graphic designers to make a quality logo.
From finding inspiration to choosing the right colors and font, this guide will map out how to design a logo from start to finish, so you can complete the process on your own. Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to use these guidelines and create a logo that your audience won’t forget.
What is a logo?
A logo is a branded design that functions as a symbol for a particular business, representing the essence of its purpose and personality. Just like the ubiquitous Nike swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches, your logo will become the face of your brand, acting as an identifying factor that audiences will recognize over time and ultimately associate with trust in your services, content or products.
Logos come in different forms, running the gamut from text-based to image-based and everything in between. Once complete, it is stamped across a business’s marketing assets, such as its website, business cards and packaging materials.
Why do you need a logo?
Small as it may be, your logo plays a big role in marketing your business to the world. Ultimately, it will communicate your brand’s unique mission in order to distinguish it from others in your industry. Your logo makes this possible by acting as a visual mark of reference for new and potential customers, forging a connection with audiences that will lead to engagement, loyalty and growth.
What makes a good logo?
While most aspects of your logo design will unfold throughout the creation process, there are definitely some essential logo design tips to keep in mind from the start. So, before you become your own graphic designer, take note of the qualities that make a good logo:
Simple: The phrase “less is more” has never been more fitting. In most cases, the least complicated logos are the easiest to recognize, so try to design a logo with a simple message that’s easy for people to connect with.
Representative: Your logo should appeal to your target audience and portray your business’s values. Make sure that the elements you use in your design are relevant to your industry and accurately represent your brand.
Timeless: You may want to spruce up your logo design over time, but you should aim to design this logo as if it were your last. By focusing on quality and avoiding designs that are too trendy, you’ll create a logo that will stick with you throughout the years.
Versatile: You’ll want a design that looks good no matter where it’s placed. A logo that can be resized and displayed on different media from the start will increase your brand’s visibility and avoid inconvenient limitations.
How to design a logo in 10 steps
When you craft a logo of your own, start by finding the best logo maker to assist you. The Wix Logo Maker makes it possible to create a logo the way you want and customize the details of your design in a streamlined fashion.
Of course, you can always hire a graphic designer, but that can be a pricey endeavor that you may not have the resources for just yet. Either way, the following steps will ensure a smooth and satisfying logo building process:
01. Define your brand identity
As crucial as your logo is to your business, it’s not the entire picture. Your brand consists of many components apart from this: a website, written content and marketing material - just to name a few. All of these parts have one goal in common: they form a complete brand identity in order to successfully represent and market your business.
In essence, a brand identity is the distinct voice and visual appearance of your brand used to convey its mission with the rest of the world. You might say your brand identity is the soul of your business, and as such it needs to be reflected through its visual and written elements.
With this in mind, your logo should be consistent with the rest of your brand’s persona.
02. Seek inspiration
Inspiration comes in two ways - from outside and from within. So we’re going to break this step into two.
First, explore the logo-verse around you. Pay attention to the logos you come across on a daily basis and be proactive by conducting online research. You can discover relevant logo trends and find interesting logo ideas by browsing different design blogs or the Pinterest boards and Behance accounts of established designers.
Competitor research will help inspire your logo design, too. This way, you can see what people in your industry are doing, take note of what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly - ensure that your logo won’t be too similar to someone else's.
Next, look for inspiration within. We’re not talking about sitting in lotus pose and meditating to the branding gods (unless that’s your thing). Rather, spend some time brainstorming your vision for the perfect logo. Take it seriously, but make it fun by creating a mood board or listing adjectives to describe your brand. Also, consider gathering your colleagues and friends to help get the ball rolling.
These creative moments with yourself and your team are important for honing in on the message and purpose of your brand.
03. Determine your logo style
The combination of elements within any given logo come together to form a cohesive style. And by now, you might notice that - just like fine art - there are a variety of aesthetic styles a logo can embody.
While determining the stylistic direction of your logo might seem like an intuitive step, you should do this while contemplating the elements of brand identity and the inspiration you’ve collected.
Is your brand classic? Then you might go for a logo design with sophisticated fonts and basic color schemes. Is your brand minimalist? In that case, you’ll avoid including complex imagery, and might choose to stick with a modern logo design. Is your brand hip? Then you can go for daring abstract designs or trendy logo layouts.
Whatever style you decide on, determining this before starting the actual creation process will help you be on the lookout for elements that can bring it into fruition.
04. Choose a type
When you think about how to design a logo, keep in mind that there are different types of logos out there. From plain text to the inclusion of symbols or a lone image - the various forms that logos take on should be considered before you design your masterpiece. Each of them will shift the outcome of your design, so think about which is the best fit with your brand identity and the audiences who will see it.
A wordmark consists of only letters displayed in a specific typeface. This kind of logo would include the name of your brand, and can be great if you already have a catchy brand name.
Similar to a wordmark, a lettermark (or monogram) logo design will be typography based. However, monograms will include only your business’s initials.
Also known as brand marks or pictorial marks, logo symbols use a single icon to represent your brand (sans text). Brand marks done right have the potential to go viral, but keep in mind that it’s a challenge to achieve recognizability at first without including your business name.
Straying from pictorial representation, an abstract logo makes use of geometric shapes to fashion an image that is truly unique. Over time, this arbitrary symbol will become interchangeable with your brand.
Apart from being one-of-a-kind, an abstract logo will open the doors for global companies, whose audience won’t have to worry about catching localized references or reading text in their non-native language.
An emblem logo represents a more classic style, and is usually designed to include badges, seals or crests with a text inside. While it embodies a traditional air, emblem logos have been successfully modernized and used in branding throughout the end of the 20th century until now.
Like the name implies, a combination logo will include both text and imagery. This can mean a lettermark with a mascot, a wordmark with a logo symbol or abstract design, or any combination in between. For beginners, a combination mark is a resourceful place to start, since imagery and text will work together to bolster your brand’s recognizability.
05. Decide on a color scheme
Colors hold an enormous power in their own right. Color psychology tells us that different hues and tones can elicit emotion from audiences, impacting their behavior. The intent when choosing a color scheme for your logo serves two purposes: first, to get the reaction you want out of your customers and second, to enhance your brand’s recognizability.
When it comes to color options, we can divide logos into three categories: black and white logos, monochrome logos or color combination logos. A black and white theme can suit your logo if you’re going for a sleek minimalist style or a classic design. Monochrome logos (logos that include a single color) work well with wordmarks and lettermarks, and can make a strong impact by further associating an individual color with your brand. Successful examples of this are the signature red associated with Coca Cola, or Tiffany’s Robin Egg Blue.
Color combinations have a strong effect too. The right mixture will perfectly compliment an abstract logo design, and will create variation and depth when working with a combination logo type. If you go in this direction, it’s recommended to stick to just 2-3 hues. Decide if you want your color combination to be complimentary (using colors that lie directly across from one another in the color wheel) or analogous (using colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel).
Don’t forget, the colors of your logo should be guided by your brand identity in order to maintain consistency.
06. Pick a font
If you plan to design a wordmark, lettermark or a combination, you’ll need to contemplate what are the best fonts for your logo. Similar to your choice of color, your choice of typography should amplify your logo’s personality and visibility. While there are endless varieties of fonts out there, you can start by ruling in or out some of the basic typeface families: serif, sans-serif, script or highly stylized typefaces.
Your font can be applied to your logo design in different ways. A minimalist design might call on you to include a simple serif or sans serif font - something clean, readable and straightforward. When working with a combination logo, the same need for a clean and readable font might apply, but you’ll also need to take into account the alignment and balance of imagery with your text.
Sometimes, typography can be used in interesting ways to become an intriguing design element on its own. Lately, many brands attempt to design wordmarks or lettermarks with overlapping text or embellished fonts that stand out.
07. Create your logo
Now that you’ve outlined your elements, it’s time to open the Logo Maker, become your own designer and put it all together until your logo vision becomes a reality.
The platform uses AI to guide you step-by-step. The process begins by asking you questions similar to what we’ve covered above, prompting you to enter your business name, describe your brand identity and define its style and personality. After that, it will generate a group of results which you can choose from and edit for further customization.
If you’re working with a graphic designer, this will be the point at which you communicate your vision, leaving them with the task of creating a sample of logo options to start with.
08. Refine the results
Perhaps you’ll nail your logo design in one shot - but it’s more likely that you’ll want to go back to the options generated by the logo maker or graphic designer to further refine and customize your results.
This is the stage when you’ll edit and polish your logo options. Use the tools available to fine-tune your logo’s layout, colors, font, style and imagery until you get the results you want.
Pro tip: It's recommended to produce a few finished logos and different variations that you like before finalizing your decision.
09. Make a final decision
Et voilà! Now that you have logo options you’re happy with, it’s time to make a final decision on your design. Although it’s your logo and you have the final say, it’s a good idea to present your designs to trusted colleagues, friends or family to see their reaction.
If you’re active on social media, you can get even more feedback by surveying your audience. Try posting options onto your feed and asking followers to vote on the results. Not only is this a great way to see how the public reacts, it’s a smart marketing tactic that will definitely build hype around your new visual identity.
Once you’ve got all this feedback, you can take it or leave it. Just keep in mind that these individuals represent your ideal audience, so it will be interesting (not to mention valuable) to hear their comments before you make a consensus.
Last but not least, weigh in on your results and choose the logo design that both speaks to your audience and satisfies your vision. Don’t settle for anything less than the logo of your dreams.
10. Put your logo to work
You’ve got a logo you love - now it’s time to put it to work. Start by downloading high quality images files of your logo. PNG and JPG files will work well on your website and social media platforms. A vector file (SVG or PDF) will allow for more scalability - ensuring the quality of your logo’s image at any size and across printed materials.
Once your logo files are downloaded, it’s time to stamp it on all of your brand’s marketing assets. This includes your website, business cards, packing material and anything else you want to be branded. If your logo is complex for some of these locations, you can create a simpler variable logo to go along with it. This is especially helpful for your website's favicon or for packaging where logo real estate is smaller.
Finally, include your logo and specifications for future use in your brand style guide. This will ensure that your business’s appearance remains consistent as it continues to grow and evolve.
By Jenna Romano
Writer & Web Design Expert