5 Logo Design Tips For Small Businesses
Updated: Jul 3
Although branding does not just start and stop with a logo, your logo is a crucial part of showing the world who you are as a brand, what you stand for, and what they can expect from you.
A logo shares the values, emotions, and feelings of a brand through colours, design, iconography, and typography. It will help tell you story and will be the base for all your brand identity assets and designs.
Here are 10 Steps to help you create the perfect logo.
1. ASK YOURSELF "WHY DO I NEED A LOGO?"
Nailing the perfect logo for YOUR brand is critical for setting your brand up for success. It all starts with a few simple questions and understanding WHO YOU SERVE.
If you take away anything from this, please remember that branding is not about you - yes it will be influenced by you, your story, and your values, BUT it is about connecting with YOUR AUDIENCE and INSPIRING them, CONNECTING with with, and making them FEEL like they are in the right place. That they can feel at ease to get to KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST you.
This all starts with creating the PERFECT LOGO that SPEAKS TO YOUR IDEAL CLIENT.
2. DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF LOGO(S) YOU WILL NEED.
There are many different kids of logos - just Google "logos" to see the variety of options available! So understanding why you need a logo as the first step will help you decide on what type of logo or logos you will need to launch your brand. Will your brand be primarily online? Used in social media? Website?
Or will you also need a logo for print such as postcards, or business cards, or other types of media?
Understanding where your logo will need to be will help you know what types of logo you will need to support those activities - and it will also help you know what your final files types will need to be.
A Wordmark Logo is a font or typography based logo that does not use a symbol or icon in its design. They are timeless, classic, and are a great option for startups who may not have the budget to hire a professional designer right out of the gate but still want to create a memorable and professional brand. Some of the world's most powerful and memorable brands are wordmarks and have stood the test of time. We are a huge fan of of the classics and it inspired our wordmark - Sweet P. Think Coca-Cola, Tiffany & Co, Google, and Disney.
Monogram Logos typically use 1 to 3 letters to become a symbol or icon. Typically these letters will represent the initials of the business name or person behind the brand. Monogram logos can be used on their own or in combination with a wordmark. They can help translate the wordmark into a more recognizable and memorable brand. Think IBM, HP, Channel, and LG.
Logo Symbols or Icons
A Logo Icon, Symbol, or Pictorial Mark, is a graphic representation of a brand. The symbol, icon, or picture will not have any words and will use the graphic to translate the brand name and values. One of the advantages of a logo icon is that our brains are hardwired to process and recall pictures better and faster than words. So having an instantly recognizable image to represent your brand will help create a more memorable experience for your brand. Think Apple's iconic apple, Twitter's blue bird, or Instagram's camera.
Most Logos will be designed as a combination mark with will include both a wordmark and a symbol, monogram, or icon. These logos are ideal because they have maximum flexibility and allow for the brand to be used in many different situations and applications. A symbol is ideal for a social media profile, while a wordmark may be a better fit for letterhead. Creating a strong brand presence with a combination mark will help build familiarity and consistency for your audience in a more meaningful way. Think Jaguar, Nike, and Dove.
Another great creative and visual logo option is an emblem. These logos are often a combination of words and/or graphics that are captured together inside a symbol as a single graphic to represent a brand. They are powerful as they often resemble a seal, badge, or crest. This creates a powerful brand message and establishes authority. Think NFL, Warner Brothers, and Harley Davidson.
What about Logo Markers / Creators / Generators?
I often get questions about logo makers and free logo design sites like Wix, Logo Maker, and Canva (to just name a few). These are all great tools to help you get started, get inspired, but a word of caution... Because they are available to numerous customers and businesses, that may result in your having a similar or the same design as someone else - including a competitor.
Be conscious that anyone can produce the same design as you - and it does happen! Your brand should be as unique and as memorable as you are. So although you may save some money to create the design yourself at the start - be mindful that you may not be the only one with that design and it may cost you more in end.
3. FIND DESIGN INSPIRATION
This is where I find my sweet spot with logo design... getting to explore and be inspired by the world around us! There are so many talented designers, and so many great brands, it is hard not to be excited!!!
Once you have an idea of the type(s) of logo you need, now you can start focusing on your actual design and inspiration. This is my favourite part!!! Pinterest is a GREAT place to get inspired. So are your customers and competitors social media channels, websites, etc.
BUT PLEASE - make sure you are using these places as design inspiration only and not "borrowing" - or worse -"stealing" ideas. You want your brand and your design to be thoughtful, original, and represent who you are as a brand. Being inspired by others is a great place to start but in the end the final design should be distinct and only yours.
As creatives, we make our living on creating unique designs, be respectful of that and support the creative community by not copying or borrowing our work. Not to mention, it could lead to trouble for you and your brand down the road...
The Mood Board
I LOVE mood boards! They are great to pull together your ideas, concepts, and to see if all the elements are working together - or against each other.
This is one of the most valuable steps in the design process because it helps us not only visualize what the brand will look like as a logo but also as you bring it to life in other areas such as business cards, websites, social media, advertising, and signage.
Consider these two examples. Both are pink inspired mood boards but the feelings, emotions, vibe, and experience could not be more different.
Selecting the right tones, colours, images, and typography will help you deliver the perfect brand experience your audience and customers are looking for.
4. CHOOSE YOUR COLOURS
Colour plays an important role into how your brand is perceived. Colour will help you attract, connect and inspire your clients. Colour brings to life your values and your story. Carefully selecting your brand colours to represent the values and experience you want to communicate with your clients and audience is key.
Remember - the brand is meant to attract and help you ideal clients get to know like and trust you... focus on their needs more than your own personal design style.
5. CHOOSE YOUR TYPOGRAPHY
Typography can influence the overall design of a logo. In the same way colours evoke emotions and create connections, typography or font choices can have the same effect on people. Exploring the use of modern and more traditional fonts for your new logo will help to create a cohesive experience with your icon/symbol, colours, and brand values.
Don't be afraid to experiment! BUT stick to one or two fonts. More than two and your design will start to look busy, lose cohesiveness, and consistency.
Another important note is to focus on complementary fonts that create visual interest. You can create visual interest with contrast between fonts like a bold more traditional serif font paired with a modern clean sans serif font.
There are lot's of great resources that can help you through this process. Below are a few of our favourite font pairings. Canva is a great place for inspiration and seeing what fonts work well together. In our example we created the graphic using the pairings from Canva to show how easy it is to make a bold statement using only typography. Canva is a great tool to explore how to pair fonts - and they have a HUGE library of fonts that have been perfectly paired if you are in doubt.
Designing a logo is a process. In addition to the tips above, you will also want to look at using a creative process to help you generate your best ideas! From brainstorming wacky, out there ideas, to refining and selecting the best ones!
Don't forget to reach out to your target audience and see if it will resonate with them! Sometimes we can do all the right things and use our best assumptions, but nothing beats asking the people that it matters most to you - your customers!
You may learn some new insights, get some amazing feedback, and bring your customers into the process making them feel a stronger connection to you and your brand.
BONUS: 3 QUICK TIPS - WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN DESIGNING YOUR LOGO.
In addition to our 5 Tips we also have a few bonus tips on what not to do... the problem is when we see these types of logos, it is hard to stand out and be noticed OR be noticed for the right reasons, not poor design.
1. Avoid Logos that are overused and generic
Your logo should set you apart from others, not help you blend in.
2. Don't get too trendy with your logo
Trends come and go, your logo should be able to stand the test of time.
3. Don't overcomplicate designs or your logo
Keep it simple. The best logos are simple and easy to remember.
Common and Overused Examples:
Your goal with your brand is to stand out, get noticed, and help you build trust and credibility. Building a solid logo will help you set the right foundation for your brand.
Choose purposefully, design creatively, and use wisely. You will create a connection with your customers and start building a great brand experience that they will get to know, like, and trust.