Published on March 14th, 2015 | by Tom Wake0
How to create a winning logo for your business in 12 steps
Your logo is important.
It appears on your product, your website, your advertising, your business cards, your Twitter account, your Facebook page – you name it.
Don’t ignore it. A bad, thoughtless or cheap looking logo will put buyers off no matter how brilliant your product or service is.
It’s not just your ‘first impression’ it’s your lasting impression. It’s the brand image that potential buyers see every single time they think about making a purchase.
A good logo is ‘sticky’, memorable and evokes positive feelings. A bad logo makes people go: “meh”.
You want potential buyers to see your logo and see that you’re:
a) professional b) trustworthy and c) easy to do business with.
Ok, so that’s pretty tall order for such a small thing (and of course there’s only so much you can do with a snazzy image and a few words) but there are a few simple things you can do to make your logo really stand out and give you the edge.
People will know if you’ve cobbled together something in 5 minutes on Microsoft Word and this reflects on your business. They’ll think: “If they’re only prepared to spend 5 minutes on their logo, what does that say about the product or service?”
The good news is that you don’t need a creative bone in your body to get a good, professional looking logo done cheaply and quickly.
I’m going to show you how to create an amazing logo with any skillset, timeframe or budget.
How to create a winning logo for your business in 12 steps or less
1. First brainstorm different words and ideas
Haven’t got a name yet? Jot down as many different words that relate to your business on a piece of paper that you can think of. Get friends involved. No idea is stupid or wrong, so go crazy.
Let’s imagine you’re setting up a pizza takeaway restaurant. Here are some words you might jot down…
Pizza, fresh, family, feast, Italian, basil, oregano, dough, tomato, deep dish, Neapolitan… you might look at popular Italian names like: Giuseppe, Antonio, Simone, Francesco… and how about writing down the Italian words for some traditional ingredients: basilico, spinaci, pomodoro, formaggio.
Already you’ve got some strong connections and positive images. ‘Pomodoro Pizza’… ‘Giuseppe’s Pizza’, ‘Basilico’. Just Googled that last one and it already exists!
2. Now think of images that relate to your business (the simpler the better)
Here are some famous examples you might be familiar with…
As a side observation, note that each of these examples contains just one colour. Of course you can choose as many as you’d like in your logo, but keeping things as simple as possible can pay dividends. People will start to associate the colour with your brand (think of the Facebook blue) and it can help you with the colour scheme on your website.
Of course you don’t have to have an image to go with your logo – in fact many successful brands don’t. Think of Sainsbury’s, Virgin or Coca Cola. They’re all about the font.
However, a simple image or icon can be useful, increasingly so in this age of the Internet where logos can be used for Twitter or Facebook business pages.
In our pizza example a lot of the words we’ve just brainstormed lend themselves nicely to a visual motif or icon. You could have a tomato, or a basil leaf for example. You can even try incorporating it in the text of your logo. One of the o’s of Pomodoro could be a tomato for example.
3. Consider colour and the emotional impact it can have
Different colours can evoke different emotions in people, some complex, some conflicting. Red can represent passion, excitement and strength but can also signify danger and aggression. At the other end of the scale, blue is calming, serene and trustworthy but it can also seem cool, emotionless and unfriendly.
There’s a lot that can be read into colour. Don’t get too obsessed about it, but do bear it in mind as it can have an impact.
For example red might be a good colour for thrill seeking brands that want to be associated with excitement and energy… but not so good for a financial brand that wants to convey security, safety and trust.
You can find out more about colours and what they can represent here.
Fancy creating your own logo from scratch? Here’s how you can create a professional looking logo (for free!)
Not interested in designing it yourself? No problem, simply skip to step 9…
4. Make sure you avoid these images and fonts at all costs…
Whatever you do, do not use images from Clip Art, childish fonts like Comic Sans, or anything that looks dated to create your logo.
By all means use all the different tools at your disposal (like Word or Google images) to get ideas and to draft different approaches, but remember you’re trying to create something that looks professional.
5. Use professional stock photos, illustrations or icons
Visit sites such as Picjumbo, Pixabay, Gratisography, Thinkstock, Fotolia for inspiration. Some of these are free, some aren’t. You might have to pay a few dollars or pounds for the privilege (and often you do for the best ones) but this could be a very sound investment.
Rather than buy dozens of different images upfront, use the small, low-res image during the design phase (you can swipe this for free) and then when you’re happy with your final design, purchase the full size image.
6. Choose a strong, professional looking font for your logo
Helvetica is a timeless font that can work well (Nestle, American Apparel, Microsoft, Intel and Apple all use Helvetica or a variation of it).
But look at more unusual or bespoke fonts as well. These can really make your brand stand out. Think of Coca Cola or Virgin who have a really distinctive style.
7. Check the small print to avoid any nasty surprises!
If you license an image or a font, please make sure you are licensed to use it for commercial purposes. Some are free, some aren’t so double check you’re good to go before you go live.
Otherwise you could be subject to a hefty fine if you’re caught using an copyrighted image (for example something you found on Google images) or font that you haven’t paid for.
8. Use the right software to create your finished design
The serious kit here is Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop (you can get a free trial to both here) and for my money these really can’t be beaten. If you own this software and are already a proficient user then great, get cracking! If not don’t panic…
It might be that you’ve got to this stage, have a logo idea that your happy with but you just need that extra push to get it professionally finished. Unless you’re prepared to spend tens of hours (and a considerable amount of money) learning how to use new software, consider paying a freelancer to help you finish up.
More tips on that coming up!
How to get someone else to create a logo for you (from as little as £5 or $5)
9. Draw up a strong brief
Before you get started make sure you have a strong brief, otherwise it will be a waste of your time (and the designers time) and you won’t get a logo or design you’re happy with.
First decide on your name. Then take all your image and design ideas (from your brainstorm earlier) and whittle them down to 3 or 4. Choose only your very favourites to include in your design brief.
When writing your brief it’s important to be very clear about both what you DO and DON’T like. Be specific. Don’t like swirly writing? Tell them! Want an illustrated logo rather than a photo? Tell them! The designer will thank you for it and you’ll save time wading through dud designs.
10. Decide on your budget upfront
Obviously if you’re spending the equivalent of a few pounds you’re not going to get a super bespoke service. You’ll most likely be getting a logo design that they offer in a similar form to other clients and tweak slightly (with the colour, shading or font).
This might not matter to you, but it’s worth bearing in mind. If you want something really bespoke, original and tailored to you it’s worth going to designers on elance or freelancer.com. Expect to pay anywhere from £50 – £200.
11. Read these quick Insider’s Edge guides to choosing a freelancer and getting the most out them
As you’ll see some freelancer platforms (such as Freelancer.com) even let you have several designers working and competing against each other to create your logo. You then pick and choose you’re favourite (you only pay the winner).
12. Finished? Do the blink test!
Put the logo in front of you, clear your mind and then blink so that it feels like you’re seeing it for the very first time.
Can you imagine it appearing on a giant billboard or a TV advert? Would you look at that and think WOW that’s a company I’d want to deal with?
If you’ve hired a designer on elance or a similar platform you’ll be able to go back to them with any tweaks and changes.
That’s it, you’re done!
Now that you’ve got a logo for your business, why not set up a website? Find out how here: How to set up a WordPress website in 7 clicks
I hope this helped. If you enjoyed this article or you’ve got any thoughts, tips or suggestions please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.