Everything You Need to Know About a Logo

The Webster English dictionary defines a logo to be: An identifying statement. – Source
A statement, in turn, is defined as: the act or process of stating or presenting orally or on paper. – Source

Now presentations on paper can be textual or may contain images. Therefore your logo can be either text based or an image or a combination of both. The importance of a logo is evident by the fact that the example sentence that Webster gives for a logo is:

  • The company’s logo is instantly recognizable all over the world.
  • The above statements should be the core criteria when you are thinking of creating a new logo for your business.

You will be identified and recognized by your logo. It is the first thing people see about your business and in fact in some cases it is the first thing people see even before seeing your products. Therefore you must take utmost care in choosing it.

AmazonTake the example of Amazon. They have crafted this logo very carefully.

Few people might have noticed the fact that what the arrow in orange means? If it would mean nothing Amazon would never have added it.
The arrow points from a to z. This means Amazon sells everything from A to Z. Secondly the arrow (or the curve) signifies a smile that will appear on a customer’s face after buying from Amazon.

Some people argue that people like Seth Godin and J. K. Rowling do not have a logo for their business and therefore they too don’t need a logo. They say; “If they can succeed without a logo why can’t we?“. Well, Seth Godin is an established name. He doesn’t need a logo for publicity. His name is enough to attract customers.  And no matter how famous he is, he is less famous than Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Both of them have created logos for their businesses.

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Secondly people like J. K. Rowling may not have a logo for themselves but their works contain a logo. See the images below to understand what I mean.

Harry Potter

All Harry Potter movies write the protagonist’s name as above. Whether it is a poster, movie-ad or the movie itself – the above form remains unchanged. That is what is called branding.

hps

The emblem of Harry Potter’s school, Hogwarts.

So what should your logo look like? And should you design it yourself or approach a designer? I have attempted to answer these questions in this article.

Do you need a designer?

Well this question cannot be answered in just a yes or no. It depends entirely on you. Logos range from very simple to very complex.

Facebook

For e.g. Facebook’s logo is very simple. You can design it even on MS-Word in 2 minutes. You don’t need a designer for that. (By the way, this logo was designed by a designer.)

Logo

On the other hand if you are aiming for a logo that looks something like above and you are not a professional designer then you definitely need a designer.

If you have even the slightest of creativity and drawing ability and you don’t need a very complex logo, then you can do it yourself.  A software program like Photoshop is a must. If you don’t know Photoshop, no worries. There are hundreds of tutorials available on the internet both on Photoshop’s official website and on other sites like YouTube. Just do a Google search for something like “Photoshop text color fade effect tutorial” etc.  and you will find many results.

Photoshop is not a cheap software. (Amazon is selling it here for 650 $!) So if you can’t afford that you can Google for something like “free+alternatives+photoshop”. You will get satisfactory results and for no matter which software you select – you will almost every time get a lot of free tutorials.

If this doesn’t work for you then you may consider visiting websites like Online Logo Maker or Logo Maker. These websites provide free tools to create professional looking logos for free. No designing skills are required.

But if you don’t like the above suggestions and decide to approach a designer then keep the following things in mind:

1. Portfolio

Check the designer’s portfolio necessarily. Usually designers (like many other freelancers) have a portfolio page on their website.  There you will find the previous works done by the designer. See if you like that. If not – move on. There are plenty of designers available online. You can always find what you want with a click of a mouse.

2. Budget

Obviously you cannot afford to buy a logo for 400$ when your budget allows for only 50$. Check out the prices before pitching the designer.

3. References

Check out whether the references provided on his website are true or not. Don’t just be satisfied with big names there. Cross check.
Sometimes quoting someone out of context may change the entire meaning of a statement.

Think it over

No matter whether you approach a designer or not, you need to have at least some basic idea of your logo in your mind. Designers will usually ask you to fill out a form which will contain questions as to how you want your logo to be crafted. Although a designer can, of course, design a logo for you without any inputs from your side but it is always better to give him specific instructions for two main reasons.

If you’ll tell him to work as he wishes, he will probably think that you are a newbie and you know nothing about design and can therefore try to fool you. (I’m not saying all designers are like this, but there are black sheep in all trades. So it is better to be careful.)
Secondly suppose the headings, links etc. on your website are all blue in color. Then you should tell the designer that you want a blue color in your logo to match with the theme of your site. That looks visually appealing. More on this below.

The Theme

As I said above the colors used in your logo must be fine tuned to match those of your website. This means that if you have used the color red on your website, then you must use the same shade of the color red in your logo. It is better to know the HTML color code of that color and repeat the code again wherever required to preserve consistency. Else your website may look a little non coherent.

Some people prefer to create a logo first and then create their website. This gives them full liberty to choose colors for their logo. Some others prefer to first design a website and then use the same colors in the logo. So you may do as it suits you.

The Resolution

You will have to use your logo in different sizes. If you are using it as a Gravatar then it will be a thumbnail view and if you are using it on your site’s banner then it will be very large. It may be even published in books so it should withstand different sizes. For that to happen, your logo must be of a high resolution.  If a logo is of low resolution then it will get pixelized i.e. get blurred on enlargement.

The Originality

Nowadays people not only copy each others’ content but they also copy away other people’s logos. The anonymous blogger who calls himself The Blog Tyrant says in this post that some people copied away almost everything (including his logo) from his blog.

Such things usually don’t work. Take a look at any of the top websites. They all are original. Original in design, content and logo. An original logo not only will exempt you from the blame of being a cheater cock, it will also make you stand out of the crowd.

The Handicraft

Many people tend to forget this rule. If even after watching tutorials of all sorts and trying free logo maker websites, you are still unable to make your logo on your computer then leave your computer aside. Every one of us must have taken drawing classes in school. Use that knowledge instead.

Take a piece of paper, draw away certain designs, select the one that you like the most, refine or redraw it if required, color it, scan it and there you are. Take a look at this interview on Freelance Switch on how Steve Gadlin managed to make a successful business online through his strange nursery kid drawings.

So with this we come to the end. How did you design your logo? Or how are you planning to design it? Tell us in the comments below.

Lief is one of the creative designers at Design Article Writers, he love to play with tools commonly useful for designers and media lovers. You'll find him playing with Photoshop, logos in his free time. Ping if you’re looking for custom logo design.

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16 Comments
  1. Vincent H. Jan 26, 2:38 pm

    Why do you recommend Photoshop for logodesign? It’s absolutely not the right software at all. It works with pixels and For designing a logo you’ll need Adobe Illustrator which work with vectors. Then you can scale the logo up to whatever size you need in the future. And when it comes to Facebook that type face is custom made. It isn’t just something put together in Microsoft Word.

    Of course you don’t absolutely have to have a logo. You could just set the name of your company in Helvetica. It will work, it will look ok. But if you want something unique and that’s easily recognizable and that communicates what your company is all about to your customers then you’ll probably need a graphic designer. Because it’s about much more than just putting the stuff together, it’s about coming up with a concept, a brand, an identity.

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    • Dean Jan 29, 9:28 pm

      Well said Vincent, there’s a lot of rubbish written in that article. I thought this was a designers website. If a site is going to offer advice like an expert, then the person writing the article should be an expert. For instance pixels are irrelevant when you’re creating a logo, as almost all logos are vectors (usually eps or Ai files) which can be scaled to an infinite size. It’s only when you get to a screen you have to worry about pixels and with your vector logo you’d simply scale to the size required and then save it in the appropriate file formant. Plus the comment about creating the Facebook logo in MS word (and making a sly comment about a designer being paid to do it) shows ridiculous naivety. It’s a custom cut typeface that has helped make the Facebook logo recognisable the world over. Which many typographers would argue is much more effective than if it had been complicated with an unnecessary graphic element.

      In fact I’m sure this article most have either been written by a high school student (because a University student would know better) or an enthusiastic (but not very knowledgeable) amateur.

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  2. Manuel Garcia Jan 26, 2:49 pm

    It’s a little bit hard for me to admit that I did not pay attention with regards to the meaning of Amazon’s Logo. That’s why it is really interesting the time when I am reading this. This is a good post actually, nice analysis and synthesis.

    Anyway, here is a list of websites where you can find online logo makers:

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  3. aledesign.it Jan 26, 3:56 pm

    Often the client dont know how much is important have a good logo. Maybe he can synthesize you mission. For make a good logo, I thinks is better to build with illustrator .. then generate 2 / 3 variants colors to be placed in various backgrounds, and a negative version. One gravatar for a blog. In order to give the customer a complete logo and with great impact!

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  4. Alokdutta Pandey Jan 26, 5:34 pm

    Nice Article..!! Still, you can’t call it “Everything” one needs to know about Logo Designs.. but, great effort..
    also, like Vincent mentioned in the above comments, you don’t use Photoshop to create logos.. it’s a raster software and a logo is made in vector format.. so, either it’s Adobe Illustrator or Coral Draw.. these are the best of all other similar software available in the market.. :)

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  5. Comadmin Jan 26, 9:14 pm

    I agree that for logo creating best software is Illustrator or something for vector graphics. Also logo is not just a few letters put together in Word. Like Vincent says it is identity, brand… and if you want to be recognized then graphic designer is a must.

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  6. Joshua Parkhurst Jan 27, 9:24 pm

    There is definitely some great information there. I would agree that there is more to the Facebook logo than just a simple type. Careful consideration was taken into the kerning (individual spacing of each letter) and the color choices (blue and white) have powerful representations that significantly impact the Facebook audience. Blue, for example, helps people view the company as loyal and trustworthy and by using a softer, lighter blue it also gives a fun lighthearted essence. This is just scratching the surface of what the designers went through when carefully considering how to design this seemingly simple design. And simple is extremely difficult to execute while still communicating everything a business should. That combined with basic design fundamentals I think a business owner would need to spend a lot of time and money into educational courses before being able to come up with their own logo design. Or they could save money and hire a design professional who has already gone through all that education plus has the experience of designing logos for other companies in the past.

    I don’t mean to be ragging on anyone or the article (it provides a lot of excellent insight) but I do want to open some eyes to the power in subtle changes in a logo design that could easily be overlooked.

    Thanks for bringing this article to our attention!

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  7. Léo Silveira Jan 28, 3:11 am

    I agree with much of its text, not only agree with the photo shop to create the logo. Recommended to Illustrator or Corel Draw programs that are both vectorization and not pixel.

    Future in the files that you created in the vector will be more flexible for expansion / reformulation.

    And no doubt it is of fundamental importance that has been rather UMK logo, even though very simple. yes but we Tues

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  8. rash Jan 29, 1:19 pm

    I totally agree with Vincent..
    the logo design process is not just a victor
    it’s a concept

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  9. Jayne Wilson Jan 30, 3:49 pm

    This Photoshopped website logo that ‘may be even published in books’ may one day need to be sent out to a long-suffering designer anyway to be magically printed on high quality stationery, on a t shirt, a big poster, a vehicle or a big exhibition display board. It HAS to be produced vector in the first place so that it can be used wherever it’s needed, and it also HAS to be assessed at different sizes. Spacing that looks ok on a tiny logo can look terrible when the logo’s upsized. Similarly essential lines can become far too thin when the logo needs to be small. That’s why you need to go to experts in the first place, even if you do have an idea for your logo already .

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  10. Andrew Mar 1, 6:20 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Lakin. Even if one does know how to use photoshop, or any software for that matter, does not mean they can design. In the same way if one knows how to use the contents of a toolbox(spanner, screwdriver, etc.) does not mean they know how to fix a car!

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  11. M.Brennan Mar 29, 11:32 pm

    I seriously wonder if this article is a joke. I looked at Lief’s website that’s in his mini-bio under the article (“Ping if you want custom logo work”). 1) Comic Sans is part of his logo, 2) his work and website looks like it’s stuck in the 90s.

    Facebook’s logo… MS Word in 2 minutes? What a disgusting insult. It’s a handcrafted typeface that only a skilled typographer can design. Keyword: DESIGN. It’s just like people using a point-and-shoot camera and automatically they think they’re professional photographers and have the audacity to charge for their work.

    Ridiculous…

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  12. T Apr 13, 7:29 pm

    This is one of the worst article’s I’ve read about creating a logo. As a designer, I find it insulting. To say the facebook logo was created in 2 minutes is just ignorant. The line “If you’ll tell him to work as he wishes, he will probably think that you are a newbie and you know nothing about design and can therefore try to fool you. (I’m not saying all designers are like this, but there are black sheep in all trades. So it is better to be careful.)” is just ridiculous. Potential clients who read such lines turn into the people you read about on Client From Hell. If you give a background and information about your company to a competent designer and tell them to do their thing (trusting them based on their portfolio and style) you will not need to meddle. They might give you a few different variations and then you go from there (I know it all depends, but still). You don’t have to meddle so you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. A competent designer will deliver if you treat them with respect for their craft/skills and if you actually communicate what you want clearly and effectively.

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  13. Chad Apr 25, 8:06 pm

    A logo designer is ALWAYS recommended… because a logo is the first thing your customer will see. Even if Facebook looks simple, it was carefully designed by a designer.

    Shell out $1K for a logo and your website, letterheads, business cards, will look really, really good and go a long way!

    Don’t be cheap and aim for quality logo.

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