The Dos and Don’ts of DIY Logo Design
Going to take a crack at DIY logo design for your new business? Read this post so you don’t muck it up.
A logo design is one of the weightiest elements of a brand identity. The purpose of a logo goes beyond being just a pretty symbol. It is responsible for so much more. It conveys the essence of the brand, illustrates the purpose, gives life to products/services, and communicates the much larger vision of the brand too.
Your logo design cannot be just a practice necessary for branding if it aims to fulfill that purpose. It needs to be strategic. It needs to be a process. You need to think of icons, colors, and fonts as visual tools that help you tell your brand story, make your logo stick in the mind of people, and aid in creating a deeper emotional connection with the audience.
Needless to say, you cannot muck this up.
But if you are not a trained graphic designer with years of experience, don’t you run the risk of doing exactly that if you DIY your logo?
Not, really. Not if modern technology has to do anything about it.
And modern technology is brilliant. Thanks to AI, the internet is populated with an endless number of online logo making tools that handle the design bit while you take care of the creative end.
In this article, we are sharing dos and don’ts of handling that process. We will talk about tips that get you the most out of an online logo making experience.
Do a lot of research before you finalize a look.
There are things called lookbooks and moodboards. They are visual representations of what you are thinking about how your logo design should look. Pinterest is a very fertile place for that sort of thing. Most designers create inspiration boards where they collect color palettes, font styles, images, symbols, and icons etc. that help them come closer to what they want in a logo.
In addition to finding inspiration, you also need to look around what’s standard in your industry. There are icons and shapes that seem more relevant to one industry than another. Abstract shapes, for example, are more prevalent for art gallery logos than for law firm logos.
Knowing what you are working with will help you remain focused as you try to finalize the look of your brand.
Use a descriptive design.
A descriptive design uses icons and symbols in the logo that relate to the core offer of a business. Think of Burger King with its buns in the logo design or the Animal Planet logo using an elephant symbol.
When you use a visual element that indicates the type of product or service you offer, studies find that it makes your brand look more authentic and people consider it more trustworthy. Such logos are also easy to remember and recall because our brains appreciate how easy they are to process.
However, experts at Harvard Business Review caution, if your business deals with products or services that carry negative connotations ( a funeral parlor, for example), staying away from descriptive icons is better.
Look for a logo maker that offers extensive editing tools.
Since you will be working with a premade logo template when using a logo maker, consider one that offers a wide range of customization features.
The variety of the editing features will ensure that you have room to maneuver your design. In addition to basic changes like color, fonts, and icons, choose a logo maker that also gives you options to work with the grid, flip shapes, change the layout, disrupt the placement, and add effects. The ability to add animation or 3D effects will mean you have to make no compromises when it comes to designing a logo that fully encapsulates your brand spirit.
Get files in SVG and/or PDF for scalable formats.
The common image formats for digital files are PNG and JPG. However, for a logo design, you must look for a program that allows you to download your logo in scalable format i.e., in PDF or SVG.
Remember that your logo has to represent your brand across many mediums and on different surfaces. The ability to shrink or enlarge your logo without giving up image-quality is essential. With a scalable format you can reproduce your logo on many different branding assets, always ensuring that it remains true to its form.
Be conscious of your colors.
The best of designers get carried away when it comes to finding the color palette for the brand. So if you feel overwhelmed at the choice of colors, rein in the worry. There are few simple rules to getting the color right for any brand. Don’t use more than three colors for your brand. One could be the main color of your brand, like red if for Coca-Cola, one could be secondary, and one for accent. Make sure the colors contrast with each other but not clash. You want your colors to work in harmony with the overall look. Again, think of your industry standards and look for colors that people already associate with certain emotions, businesses, and behaviors. Like green is reserved for wealth, nature, and abundance, while black is predominantly used for luxury fashion brands and represents mystique and sophistication.
Make sure you add negative space
Negative space refers to the empty space around a logo design. The more negative space you add, the more prominent your logo can look. Brands even use negative space in creative ways to add an extra layer of meaning to their logos. Think of the forward-facing arrow that appears in the FedEx logo.
The negative space not only makes the design look neat and clean but also more intriguing and meaningful.
Take care of the visual balance
Everything has to look in perfect proportion when you create a logo. You don’t want a design that looks tilting to one side or something, do you?
Visual balance ensures that each element in the design is neatly arranged within the composition according to their individual weight. A balanced design feels complete and invokes a sense of harmony. Visual asymmetry evokes emotions of uneasiness and being on edge. While sometimes it can work for brands, such as when you want to provoke a sense of challenge and risk-taking. But in most cases, designs look more appealing and positive when they are balanced and symmetrical.
Make sure it’s readable
When you are working with fonts and font sizes, pay special attention to legibility. Choose fonts that are easy to make out when looked at from different distances and in different sizes. Remember that your logo will represent your brand on desktop sites as well as on small apps and social media pages.
You want to ensure that when people search for you online, your logo is clearly legible from a list of perhaps many similar-looking designs. If it’s not, you not only lose a chunk of your web traffic but also hurt your brand recognition and recall.
Don’t make your icon smaller than your text.
This is a common mistake when people DIY their logo designs. For non-designers, it’s subtle details like these that prove to be most elusive.
When you make your icon smaller than your text, you indicate to readers that it’s less important than the text. It’ll hurt when you’ll rely on your icon to showcase your brand on apps or social media. People may fail to relate that icon to your brand.
Therefore, either keep both the elements of the same size on your logo design, or even make the icon a bit bigger. Don’t worry. As your icon is the main identifier of your brand, making it larger than others only enables it to stick better to people’s minds.
Don’t look like everyone else.
We have mentioned here a few times how you have to keep your industry standards in mind when creating your logo. It does not mean that your design must look like everyone else’s. The idea is to do the exact opposite of that.
While you should stick to the basics of what your industry does, but then add your own creative flair to make the design sing. If you are a fashion brand, for example, break the monotony of black wordmark logos by either giving your wordmark a brighter, richer color, or keeping it black but using an icon to create a more distinguished logo.
Don’t follow trends.
Logo designs that follow fads and trends put an expiry date on themselves. The minute the trend ceases to be relevant or fashionable, so does your logo, and by extension, your brand.
Don’t put your logo design in a situation where it has a use-by date. Make it look timeless by focusing on what feels true to your brand and its purpose. Put effort into understanding what icons, colors, or fonts feel more natural and effortless when you think of your brand.
Doing so will ensure that you create a design that is timeless and classic, and able to represent your vision for many years to come. Remember Coca-Cola hasn’t made any significant changes to its logo in decades and we still like it. If it works for a multibillion dollar company, it’ll work for you, too.
Don’t use too many details.
Try not to go with a logo design that has a bunch of intricate details like shadows, complicated sketching, or elaborate illustrations.
While such details may look good and you feel they make your design more meaningful and layered, it has some major drawbacks. For example, in smaller sizes, these details lose their legibility and meaning. If you were relying on too many details to convey your brand message, all of it may be lost when you transport your logo from one size to another or from one format to another.
To keep your logo design working at all times, make sure it’s simple, clean, and solid.
Don’t forget background contrast.
Background contrast refers to the difference between the color of the background and the color of elements that are in the foreground. The contrast between these colors can be high or low. Higher levels of contrast help make the foreground details look more prominent.
If the contrast is low, people may have trouble deciphering the design at all. Black and white is a popular example of perfect color contrast that works no matter which of these colors you use in the background and which in the foreground.
Use color contrasts in your logo that are pleasing to the eye and not exactly clashing with each other. Think of sea-green and deep purple, not sea-green and bright red.
Don’t use more than three colors.
Speaking of colors, we know we’ve said it before but it bears repeating: try to stay away from color pallets that have more than three colors in them.
Most logo designs consist of a single color and communicate their message well. There is no reason you should contain 6 different colors for various marketing needs. In fact, such a scattered color palette can indicate a distracted mind, not a unified, cohesive brand.
Your fonts should not be in all-caps or all-lowercase.
This is another rule that pertains to how we need to think of visual balance in our logo designs. When you are choosing fonts, keep the text contrasting with each other in terms of case use as well as style.
If you use all-caps or all-lowercase, you may have trouble with visual hierarchy in your design. Everything will look similar. To guide people’s attention along your design in order of importance of elements, contrast in your fonts will play a key role. Pair a capitalized text with an all-lowercase tagline. Or if you want to use all-caps for your brand name in a thick font, think of a thinner font for your all-caps tagline.
Don’t cramp your logo.
Give your logo room to breathe. Organize the placement in a way that the design is sufficiently distanced from all borders.
Use an ample amount of white space, too, to keep the logo from looking cramped and cluttered. Keep it neatly centered so the final look is of a well-balanced professional logo that’s polished and high-quality.
Thanks to a wealth of online logo design generators out there, creating a professional DIY Logo Design from scratch has become pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is pick a template, click a few buttons to make some changes, and hit the Download. Yet, if you don’t know the design rules that professional artists work with, this simple process may not deliver much to you.
To get the most out of it, it’s critical to know what you are working with. The design tips, rules, and dos and don’ts we have shared today are the best-practices that we work with every day. Use these logo design commandments to ensure your DIY logo looks like something out of Paul Rand’s design book. Or at least something that you can proudly show off to your audiences and customers.
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