Make your do-it-yourself logo look like a pro’s

Simple, symmetric & versatile

When starting a small business, budget is always a priority. So it’s no surprise that when many business owners price out a new logo, they decide to do it themselves rather than pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for one done professionally. While the money is often well spent, you just might not have it right now, so here are some tips for creating your own logo to look like a pro’s!

Keep it simple

Unless you’re an artist and have plans to sketch a logo and convert it to a digital format, stick with a simple idea. For most people, that’s going to mean the name of your business only. There’s a much higher likelihood that your logo will look amateur if you try to add illustrations or graphics without using a premier program like Adobe Illustrator. coca-cola-logoAnd logos generally have one to two fonts at most!

Inspirational example: Coca-Cola just uses its name in a unique font.

 

Start in black and white

One of the aspects of a great logo is in its versatility. Color is super important, but there might be times when you need your logo to work in black and white. It should be able to stand on its own either way. Secondly, color can distract you from the shape and concept when you first begin designing, so start in black and white and then add color later.Apple-Logo

Inspirational example: You can recognize the Apple logo no matter what color (or not) it’s in.

Size versatility

Just like color, a logo should look good big or small. If you design something with a lot of text, that is going to be hard to read when it gets shrunk down onto a business card. Sometimes, logos have variations — one with text and one without — to solve this problem. Take your logo and resize it to various dimensions to see if the tone, quality and shape hold up well.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 4.10.34 PM

Inspirational example: The famous Taco Bell logo can be big or small and you still recognize it!

Symmetry

If you’re using Photoshop to create a logo, turn on the smart guides. These lines help you to see that things are aligned properly. Don’t try to eyeball what the “middle” is. You’ll want to make sure all your fonts are complementary in size — either identical or at a contrast pleasing to the eye. You want the whole logo to flow well together; if
one part is a lot taller than the rest, it throws it off balance.Twitter_logo_blue

Inspirational example: Look at the perfect symmetry in the Twitter bird! Notice how every curve is at the same angle?

Words or no?

If you think about a few famous logos — Nike, McDonalds, etc. — you’ll notice that you can recognize the logo without any words attached. Text logos obviously don’t fit this bill, but if you have a long business name, can you make your logo just the initials? In general, the fewer words, the better. Try creating your logo with and without your tagline, for example.

When you take away an element, if it doesn’t make the logo look worse, then question whether you need it there to begin with. Every part of your image or text should be deliberate and necessary. You don’t have room for fluff.

Inspirational example: The Adidas logo is seen sometimes with words and without. It works either way.

Grab a few premium elements

Steer clear of overused fonts (like Papyrus, Comic Sans, etc.). Go to a site like Creative Market and pick out a premium font and maybe an icon or shape that you can work in. Pay careful attention to the licensing requirements before you purchase.

Color

The majority of logos are three colors or less. While you can find many exceptions to this rule (Hello! The NBC peacock!), unless you are an expert in color theory, keep your choices to a minimum. Also, don’t underestimate the use of gray. Once your logo is designed, try it in various colors and then get some outside opinions to see which one gets the most praise.

Inspirational example: These food logos are all basically three colors. If you look at more modern logos — especially for Internet and social media companies — you’ll see even more minimalism in the color department.

Logo-design-collage

Altered text

If you think a text logo is too boring, consider the number of ways text can be altered. You can try:

  • All uppercase
  • All lowercase
  • letters spaced out
  • Bold or italic
  • Adding a drop-shadow or a stroke
  • Using a gradient filter
  • Warping the text to go at an angle
  • Stacking the words on top of one another
  • Combining two letters to share a similar line

Inspirational example: The eBay logo is all lowercase and the letters are overlaid on top of each other. With the CNN logo, the two N’s share a similar line.

Add a background

The most common background is a circle or a circle frame. You can also try a square or rectangle background to add some borders to your logo. Make sure the color doesn’t compete with the text or graphic.

Inspirational example: Baskin Robbins adds a circle around their logo (fun fact: the pink part of the letters makes a 31 — the number of flavors they offer). Toblerone has a unique triangle background.

Finally, make something that can grow

If you create a logo that’s too complicated, it’ll be hard to change it later on. Stick to a few important elements — the primary font and the primary color — so that if you want to hire a designer to create a graphic, you can upgrade your logo without losing all its identifying features.

Inspirational example: The iTunes logo, old and new.

Julie Deneen
Julie DeNeen is a full-time web designer and blogger, making her mark on the Internet with a tech blog called Fabulous Blogging. An award winning lifestyle blogger as well, she was chosen as Anderson Cooper's blogger of the day in 2012 and appeared on Anderson Live several times, as well as BBC World Have Your Say. Off the Internet, she is a mom of three, a musician, foodie and theater buff. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!