An apple with just one bite. The golden arches. The green and white caffeinated siren. Without even saying their names, you know the companies these logos signify. They are iconic and have taken on a life of their own.
Perhaps you’re starting out on a new business endeavor. The fun part is just beginning of deciding on a name, starting a website, and designing your logo. Each step is crucial to maintaining a brand across multiple platforms. In a visual world where you have mere seconds to get attention online, you must rely on your logo to be your introduction, identity, and legacy. Design it well.
1) Get the Right Program
Basic computer familiarity might tell you that Adobe Photoshop is the ideal graphic design program. Many in the industry would agree, as it is widely used. However, it is cost prohibitive, especially for those who are only using it on one project like designing a logo. Luckily, there are other options out there you can review.
For an online program with no cost, consider Photopea. It can handle many types of graphic files, including Photoshop, and you can access it in a browser anywhere you have data internet service.
Need something offline? Open source and free, GIMP should fit the bill. It runs on Windows, Macs, and Linux computers and comes with all the bells and whistles of a graphics editor your could want.
There are also basic, free options like FreeLogo Design. This website allows you to make simple logos from templates. They are yours to use.
2) Think Like A Designer
Graphic designers consider making products for all mediums. Think of designers who create movie posters that go on the sides of buildings and the front of DVDs. They have to be high enough quality that they work in all variations, as well as to be printed or viewed online.
Have you ever noticed after resizing an image how it doesn’t look as good anymore? That’s a real problem when you have an image you’ll want to place on many different things in many different sizes (Facebook pages, t-shirts, stickers, paperwork headers, etc.)
A quick primer on graphic quality: use smart objects. In Photoshop, smart objects keep all the original pixels in image—they’ll be there when you need them again, whether the picture is going bigger or smaller.
3) License Your Art Properly
There are three options when it comes to getting artwork for business materials like a logo: license, commission, create.
If you are going to license stock art for your logo then you will need to make sure you are paying proper royalties for it. Some stock art can be used once for lower royalties, but charges more for work that will be widely published. Sometimes the medium of the work matters, such as if the artwork will be on a book cover versus a private report.
You can often choose between finding royalty-free or rights-managed art. Quality and detail may vary.
Royalty-free typically will have a one-time fee. They may have rules about what the image can be used on, so make sure to verify.
Rights-managed images will have many more rules associated, dictating the length of time you can use the image and where you can use it.
If you commission art from an artist or designer to use in your overall design, similar considerations to licensing may come into play. It is very important to make sure that your purchase guarantees you rights to use the image as you please and without needing to credit the artist (unless you are ok with this).
Finally, creating your own art is an option. With so many online programs and a little bit of talent, you can create a completely unique-to-you design without the cost or hassle of licensing and commissioning.
4) Product Test Your Logo
That really cute turtle that is peeking out of its shell on your logo? Well your sister thinks it looks like a soccer ball and your boyfriend thinks it looks like…let’s not go there. Communicating through images is rough. There’s a reason graphic designers are in business, after all! Making sure that your image is clear, eye-catching, and communicating what you’re trying to say is the most important part of your logo.
Does your logo look like anyone else’s? Could your business be mistaken for another, for instance?
Could your logo be considered offensive? Does it accidentally resemble traditional logos associated with religious or racial groups who would be opposed to your using it?
Does your logo make people not want to buy your product? Some designs just come out unintentionally unpleasant.
View your logo in different colors, upside down, inside out, etc. Make sure it could not be misconstrued, confused, or generally off-putting.
5) Tell Your Story
The most important thing to consider when making your own logo is how to tell the story of your brand. Consider the tone you want to strike. What font style goes with it? Should the colors be bright or muted? Cultivate a feeling in the graphic that you want your customers to associate with your business.
Choose something that speaks to you or your industry. Many companies use the image of a beloved pet. As your logo may very well be your introduction to new customers, it should be something that connects with them emotionally and lets them know a little about you and the business. Visual storytelling has never been more important or more creatively possible.
Following these tips could one day find you with a simple, creative legacy as golden as the arches or as tasty as that apple.