A Step-By-Step Guide to the Ultimate Logo

12 August 2019

A Step-By-Step Guide to the Ultimate Logo

A step-by-step guide to the ultimate logo.

How often do you shop for bandages or clear adhesive tape? No, you shop for Band-Aid or Scotch Tape. You might buy a cheaper version or the store brand, but you still ask for Band-Aid or Scotch Tape.  You know Minute Maid, Tide, and Clorox when you see them. It may be the color, shelf-location, or supermarket aisle. But, it’s really the logo that has trained your eye over the years.

You have never seen a big brand without a logo. Logos make or break brands because they manage customer perception. They remind shoppers of ads and commercials they have seen. They differentiate one brand from another. And, they deliver messages of quality and tradition.

The world before logos

A brand was once the mark burned into the hide of cattle and other livestock to identify their owners. In time, those marks helped markets differentiate the livestock by origin, breed, and quality. Business brands still do the same thing.

Stella Artois, the Belgium ale, has had the same logo since 1366. Twinings Tea of London has used theirs since 1887. And, Bass Ale and Levi’s have used their logos with only slight change since 1876 and 1886 respectively.

For the longest time, companies used a jingle or phrase to identify themselves. Products were known by “Finger-Lickin’ Good,” “Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux,” “Hey Mikey! He likes it!” Some have lasted, including “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” “Melt in your mouth, not in your hands,” and “Got Milk?”

Logos have become the new way of marking brands successfully and lastingly.

What’s in a logo!

A logo is a sign, symbol, emblem, and more. It is a high-impact memorable shout-out by the brand to catch your attention and make a sale.
Global competition has pushed language out of the logo to avoid language problems. So, logos have come to emphasize shape, design, and color instead of typography.

While Coca-Cola has no need to reform its appearance, logos have been taking a new direction, and we’re here to make that process easier for your brand.

5 steps to design your logo:

Step 1: Who needs an outstanding logo?

A business is a good deal waiting to happen. Only customers can make that deal happen. And, to get customers to move you must make them move your way. You need them to see your product before they see any others, either because yours is the brand they use or because it is one product they have heard about.

You want to be outstanding in the aisle. To that, you must look good. You must be datable, inspiring, and desirable. You want to be dressed up to go. Branding, like relationships, it a matter of first impressions, first glances that tell a shopper your product is the one they want.

But, you must remember the logo must do more than meet and greet the customer. It will appear in all your materials, internal and external collateral materials, administrative as well as marketing paper. It will appear on everything from letterheads and business cards to websites and sales brochures. It will mark contracts, media, and invoices. It will mark the business for what it is, so it must get that right.

Step 2: Who are you going to be?

Every business has a personality. But, designing the logo helps you define and grasp just what it is. Sometimes, that meaning gets away from you or changes over time. The logo design presents an opportunity to discover or rediscover what makes the business unique.

Business leaders forget their own unique sales proposition. And, new leadership may not have a real understanding of the business’s personality. The design process let you determine the design options that align with that purpose and personality.

You must know “who” the company is and “who” it wants to be. Your product may want to appear friendly, supportive, healthy, spiritual, clean, flavorful, and so on. So, ask yourself, inside and outside stakeholders, and collaborators:

  • Just why did you start the business?
  • What are the business’s core values?
  • What do you do better than others in the same business?
  • Just what makes your brand so special?
  • What three words describe the brand?
  • What three words do you want customers to use?
  • What can you do to align those perceptions?

The ultimate logo Brainstorming

Look for inspiration

You can’t pull inspiration off the shelf. It’s not a product. It’s not skill. It’s not new software. But, there are processes to help you drill down to what inspires the brand and people who buy.

Brainstorm the heck out it. Understanding an answer lies somewhere out there, you can optimize the creative ideas around you. You should not be alone in this yourself. You must secure the look, sound, and perception with the help of all who can contribute:

1. Learn to Brainstorm. The process hopes to maximize input, prioritize, and then break down the work in progress.

2. Brainstorm for the customer. You can put your team into your customers’ shoes, listing what they want. The process helps you better understand your target market and its demographic personality.

3. Spread the fun. Maybe you can magic the magic happen on your own. But, you’ll find it more fun and effective when you get everyone involved. That includes every partner inside and outside the company. It should even include family and friends. You must diversify the input if you want to diversify the reach.

4. Brainstorming has no stars. In the crowd represented by the brainstormers, you reduce the fear of thinking outside the box or pushing the envelope. After all, you need a logo that expresses the business character and stands out from the crowd.

Use a mood board

Creative people work with Mood Boards. To create a Mood Board, you want to pin or post every idea that reaches a visual concept. You assemble and literally play with a montage of ideas. Perhaps, you move the color combinations together, categorize the shapes, or contrast the competitors’ work. You and your team are looking for inspiration from the work that is out there.

The method can discourage you when you see what has succeeded. Still, it offers a challenge to find what works in between the working logos or in the cracks that others have not ventured. Creative people will see patterns and correlations emerge. With open discussion in a new hear situation, you will gravitate towards style and design features quickly. 

Look at the competition

To beat the competition, your logo strategy must learn from them. You must know what is working and what is not. You want to shadow their journey and learn what to borrow and what to ignore. Until you lay them out side-by-side, you will not see their commonalities and differences.

You might be surprised how frequently a certain color or typestyle appears. If the competitors look the same, you want to go bold. If they all do red, white, and blue, you go another way. If they use photographs or geometrics, you think something new.

Step 3: It’s time to design your logo

Once you know who your business is and feel the inspiration to go forward, it is time to make a design out of it. It’s time to get to the drawing table to integrate the brainstormed thoughts on shape, color, typography, and more. You may find it more time-effective to break the project into its components rather than debating and getting work done on the whole design at the same time.

Start with a style choice

  • Classic styles have an edge on the new and trendy. The classic style has proven its sustaining power. If you want that broader market and staying power, the style is “simple” in the aesthetic sense lacking frills and flourishes in favor of design that evokes reliability and down to earth standards of quality.

  • Retro styles offer comfort to mature customers and generations. They offer nostalgic images of security and trust. They trust images and colors that are romantic and ageless.

  • Clean styles convey focused and minimalist messages. They seem fresh and contemporary. Such logos depend on whitespace, minimal detail, and simple lines. They appear sleek and reductionist to attract customers who identify with the cool and current.

  • Humorous styles offer whimsy and fun. They have bold colors, positive images, and quirky illustrations. They use smiles, animals, children, and friendly fun. They often have a strong visual link with the brand’s media commercials.

  •  Handcrafted styles emphasize the quality of homemade products. Like a signature cast into a ceramic or burned in woodworking, those logos tend to be minimalistic. Still, they recall the vintage livestock brand. They deliver a message of authenticity and value.

Still stuck on style?

None of these listed styles is mutually exclusive. You can always mix retro typography with contemporary pigments and geometry. So, you should also weigh all the design elements with your purpose and plan. You need to decide on the “right” type of logo: 

  • Wordmarks depend on the typography like Coca-Cola, Canon, or eBay. The shape, size, and color of their words sustain them in the market. Coca-Cola has made ill-fated attempts to modernize the typography only to have the marketplace reject their tinkering with something great. Customers take some ownership of designs they favor. The logo is a great way to capitalize on a good company name.
  • Symbols are icons. They are easily recognized and remembered. As transactions have become more global and digital, simplicity is important. Few logos are as successful as those designed for Apple, Nike, and Target. Each is elegant in its simplicity and carries a clear message.

  • Abstract marks connect brand and shopper with some unique design. The Olympic rings, NBC peacock, and Microsoft window are all designed to establish an immediate connection to your brand. If you think of your logo as a thumbnail, you are closing in the design you want.

  • Mascots like Mickey Mouse, the Panda Express bear, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the GEICO gecko all send a message of warmth, humor, and reliability. They position the brand as family-friendly and comforting.

  • Combination marks connect symbol and word to make a visual impression. You’ll find the brand name below or beside the symbol, or the word becomes part of the symbol. FedEx is an impressive example that combines letters in the brand named with its prominent X. Puma shoes uses distinctive lettering with a puma leaping over them. Chanel and Gucci both place intertwined initials next to their names. Some brands use this as a transition to using the symbol alone.

  • Emblem marks use badges, crests, or seals to recognize their brand. Volkswagen, BMW, WordPress, Porsche, and UPS all use their initials within an emblematic shape suggesting an award for achievement. 

Use color for effect

Psychologists and designers study color for its effects on mind and body. People unconsciously attach certain emotions and perceptions to colors. To reduce their complexity, you can consider these assessments:

Pick the right type

They have been creating type fonts since the Chinese used woodblock printing. Typography is an art itself. Before you select a font to complement and complete your image, you want to select from four basic fonts:

Pull it all together

Once you have identified your logo’s elements, you must be sure they work. You must confirm the harmonious alignment among the elements to assure you have the iconic vibe you have been after. 

That vibe can be high-brow or low, old world or new, soothing or stimulating. You must come to understand how shape, font, and color palette all come together. It could be comforting and companionable or disruptive and unique. The question is whether it aligns with your image of the business and the choices you want customers to make. 

Step 4: Getting through the process

If you have followed these steps, you should have more than you need to pull it together. You are positioned to know what you want some time after you identified what you need. Where you go from here depends on factors like budget, business type, and growth strategy.

You can choose a logo contest, logo agency, a logo maker, or a 1-to-1 project manager. Each option has pros and cons. Each comes with its own costs. Whatever direction you pursue, you still must navigate the process:

Communicate. Communicate, communicate

It’s up to you to communicate fully and continuously with your design people. Early on, you should collaborate on a timeline and project targets. Designers need as much information on you and the business as possible. They must feel your passion for the business and its values. They must feel the connection you want with the customer. And, they must understand how you measure success.

All this must be planned and coordinated first before they can create something unique and lasting. If you are confident of that connection with your design provider, you can trust their expertise and performance. You can communicate and provide feedback if you have a strong relationship, but you must also allow them the freedom to make progress. 

Consider the options

Testing your options is touchy and difficult. You have some strong biases by the time reach testing, but you must consider the feedback from family, friends, customers, and peers. It helps for all to be answering the same questions:

Will viewers get it within two seconds?

  1. Does it tell people what the business does?
  2. Will the customers remember it?
  3. Is it versatile enough to use on all the company’s applications?
  4. Does it have a shelf-life or endurance?
  5. How does it distinguish itself from the competition?
  6. Is it reaching your target audience?

What to avoid

You don’t want to ignore the process or your partners. But, there are other habits you want to avoid:

  • Avoid the generic. Clichés, aphorisms, and proverbs lack dynamism of their nature. Lacking dynamism and energy, generic images and phrases are dead in the water.

  • Simple is its own value. It can be contemporary or classic. What counts is that it is memorable, requires no interpretation, and transfers easily to all business needs.

  • Use striking but few colors. Every color added increases the cost of printing.

  • Stay away from the trendy. It’s great if your logo starts a trend, but trends are soon dated. Being trendy aligns your logo with what’s happening, but it does not set it apart.

  • Avoid the amateur contributor. That family or friend who has some experience with Photoshop or MS Draw guarantees amateur results. It might save you money, but the outcome will show it. 

Step 5: Put the logo to work

Once you have your logo, you also have a newly-refreshed brand. You must introduce it to your business and market explaining the process that went into it. You should give them ownership by distributing t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other swag. You should be prepared to supply freshly-minted business cards, stationery, and forms. Your job is complete when you can change the signs on the front door and product package that shows your brand’s new face.

Our designers are ready and waiting to design you the perfect logo to get your new brand launched. Click here to get started.