Web Designers Notes: Logo Design Cheat Sheet

In today’s article, our web design agency in Chicago presents a logo design cheat sheet. We’ll walk you through the entire logo designing process from start to finish. We’ll also talk about the factors that make a successful logo design and the effect it can have on your brand. Let’s dive in.

Creating a successful logo design is not as straightforward as it may seem at first glance. When people come across a brand’s logo, they rarely consciously think about the design process or the impression it was intended to make. Subconsciously, however, logos have a profound effect on the way we perceive a particular brand. That shows how a well-designed logo is more than just a design. Rather, it is the ability to communicate your brand’s message and directly influence buying decisions.

logo design cheat sheet

What is a logo?

In one form or another, logos have existed for thousands of years. However, up until relatively recently, they have been somewhat primitive. For example, throughout the 19th-century, logos were no more than a symbol used by brands to tell people who made a particular product. It was in the 20th century when companies began trademarking their identities. That was the birth of the modern-day logo.

Logos have a bigger role to play than simply promoting instant public recognition. They need to reflect and communicate every aspect of a brand to a target audience while at the same time instilling the feeling of trust with consumers.

As you are about to find out throughout this logo design cheat sheet, multiple factors make a successful logo design. Elements like color, typography in UX design, shapes, images, and various styling choices all combine to form a logo that is not only recognizable but also speaks to target demographics and establishes a level of trust.

What makes a successful logo design?

Continuing our logo design cheat sheet, let’s explore the must-have traits of an effective logo. To provide the most impact, your logo has to be:

  • Memorable
  • Simple
  • Versatile
  • Timeless to an extent
  • Appropriate

Now, let’s dive into more details by exploring these factors individually.

Memorable

If we were to take a moment and picture some of our favorite brands’ logos, we would probably be able to recreate them in great detail. The main reason behind this fact is that successful logos are made with memorability in mind. The designers have made an effort to craft a logo that can easily stick in consumers’ minds. But what tricks did they use to achieve this? Let’s find out.

Color

Color is perhaps the first thing most of us notice about a logo. It plays a crucial role in producing a successful logo since colorful logos are thought to be generally more memorable than those composed of black and white imagery. With that in mind, the question arises: What colors have the most impact?

The choice of colors largely depends on your brand and the image you wish to portray. However, the rule, in general, is to include two dominating and highly contrasting colors to make your logo stand out more. Also another thing to think about when choosing colors is readability. They shouldn’t be too bright to hurt your customers’ eyes nor too dark to read in a dimly lit setting.

Font

The typeface is extremely important and plays a huge part in setting your brand apart from your competitors, even more so if it is custom-designed with a copyright on the font. In this part of our logo design cheat sheet, we’ll outline four common fonts along with the message they convey.

Serif

A font with a serif can make your brand feel traditional and formal. However, these fonts don’t translate well to pixel-based displays. They are best used in articles as they make it easier for readers to stay on the same line.

Brand personality:

  • Traditional
  • Sophisticated
  • Reliable
  • Formal

Usually used on:

  • Logos
  • Body copy
  • Website text
  • Titles
  • Prints

Sans serif

These fonts can make your logo look more sophisticated and streamlined and are very widely spread due to the popularity of the minimalistic design.

Brand personality:

  • Modern
  • Clean
  • Humanist
  • Universal

Usually used on:

  • Logos
  • Body copy
  • Titles
  • Small text

Script

The Coca-Cola logo is a prime example of well-implemented script font. However, there is a caveat to using these types of fonts. Readability is an essential element of logo design, and people that are less familiar with the English language may find it harder to decipher the writing.

Brand personality:

  • Stylish
  • Personal
  • Dynamic

Usually used on:

  • Logos
  • Titles
  • Invitations

Geometric

Geometric is an elegant and sophisticated font type. It provides great readability, which makes it a perfect fit for all kinds of logos.

Brand personality:

  • Elegant
  • Sophisticated
  • Historic

Usually used on:

  • Logos
  • Websites
  • Titles

Graphics

When choosing a graphic format for your logo, we suggest you stick to vector formatting. Formats such as .jpg are not recommended for scaling as they can make your logo look blurry and pixelated. On the other hand, when expanding the vector, your logo remains sharp and keeps its professional look.

Simple

Simplicity is a vital part of our logo design cheat sheet. Not overcomplicating things and keeping your logo as simple as possible increases the chance of it sticking into your audience’s memory. To illustrate the point, let’s check the evolution of Apple’s logo.

compamy logo changes

Just recently, Apple overtook Coca-Cola as the world’s number one brand, and it is hard not to think that the simplicity of their current logo played a crucial part in that success. It is simple, elegant, and memorable, which is hard to say for their overly complicated initial logo featuring Isaac Newton sitting under a tree.

Another excellent example of a well-made logo is the Nike logo. 

nike logo

The logo’s simplicity made it instantly recognizable in all corners of the world.

As we can see, the simplicity and, therefore, memorability rests on eliminating all unnecessary parts of the design. Too many colors can clutter the design, so it is best to stick to only two, as we have already mentioned. When it comes to text, think of the most straightforward way to communicate your message. All concepts beyond that can be presented with graphic imagery.

Versatile

As an agency that provides web design services, we had our fair share of clients that required company logo changes. The common problem with most of those initial logos is that they didn’t fit well into various marketing materials such as business cards, billboards, leaflets, flyers, stickers, TV ads, etc.

That only stresses the importance of versatility since this trait allows your logo to perform well across a range of different mediums. But, how do you design with versatility in mind? For starters, you could follow our checklist:

  • Your logo should be equally effective when printed on something as large as a billboard and something as small as a sticker.
  • Your logo should be equally effective when printed in one color as it is when printed in full color.
  • Your logo should remain recognizable even when printed in inverse colors.
  • Your logo should maintain its quality when scaled to any size.

We have already talked about vectors when it comes to scaling, so let’s not repeat ourselves. Other bullet points require testing. For example, it is a good idea to check whether the logo remains unique and recognizable when the colors are inverted.

Here is a logo design cheat sheet tip:

Consider designing your logo in black and white first and adding the colors later. That will allow you to focus on shape and form without being influenced by the psychological effect of colors.

Timeless

With brands investing millions of dollars into logo redesigns and updates, brainstorming a timeless design can save you a lot of money down the road. So, instead of paying for a makeover every couple of years, you should put a conscious effort into coming up with a logo that will look just as fresh in 5, 10, or even 50 years as it does right now.

But, how can you achieve this? By not blindly following design trends. Design trends are transient, and logos that go to a large extent in following them usually don’t age that well.

Constantly following the latest design trends has resulted in seven logo redesigns in just twenty years for Microsoft. On average, they have refreshed their logo every two or three years.

If we compare that to Coca-Cola, we’ll see that their fundamental logo design has remained the same since the early 1900s.

Appropriate

While designing your logo, another thing to ensure is that it is appropriate for your target audience. Everything from colors and style to typography needs to appeal to them. A great example of the appropriate logo design is the logo for Toys R Us.

 

As a brand that sells children’s toys, they opted for a rather childish font and a multi-color scheme. Of course, such design choices wouldn’t be appropriate for a computing company, for example. That would require a completely different approach, and the IBM brand is a good example. Here is what their logo looks like.

IBM’s products are aimed at corporate customers, perfectly represented through corporate-looking serif font and an overall design that portrays a trustworthy image. Serif typefaces are generally more serious looking than playful sans-serifs.

The logo creation process

So far, we have talked about various elements that your logo should consist of. We’ll dedicate this part of our logo design cheat sheet to the actual creation process.

The process includes the following stages:

  • Briefing
  • Brand research
  • Logo research
  • Initial sketch and conceptualization
  • Analysis
  • Presentation (optional)
  • Production

Let’s discuss each of these.

Briefing

The briefing is the process of gathering the initial info from your client. This info includes:

  • Client profile and brand values
  • Aims and objectives
  • Target audience
  • Primary competitors
  • Budget
  • Project timeline

It is essential to get as many details from your client as possible. The clearer the picture you get about the points above, the easier it will be to streamline the designing process, and you are more likely to avoid subsequent revisions.

Brand research

During this stage, you’ll need to do research to better understand your client’s brand and business operations. Though you need to deliver the product to your client, they are not the ones you are designing the logo for. You are actually designing the logo for their target audience. With that in mind, some of the things to look into are the history and the worth of your client’s industry, the demographics, as well as diving deeper into competitor research to better outline the brand’s position within the market.

Logo research

During the previous stage, we focused on the business side of our client. Now, we need to use the gathered information to better understand the style, look and feel of the logo we attempt to design. We can do this by analyzing the logos of similar businesses. Here is what we should look into:

  • Typography
  • Colors
  • Imagery
  • Style
  • The overall look and feel

Logos that aim at similar demographics tend to have similar qualities, so it is at this stage that we start making more concrete design decisions.

Initial sketch and conceptualization

As the initial research stages of the designing process are done, it is finally time to get creative. So far, we should have an idea of what the logo should look like. During this stage, you can sketch down a few concepts. Playing around with typography and font styles for logos with simple graphic styles is a good idea.

On the other hand, conceptualized logos like the FedEx logo tend to have a greater effect on the viewer and are generally more memorable.

fedex logo

However, this is not written in stone, as some of the most memorable logos don’t feature this concept. The most important advice that we can give you throughout this stage is that you shouldn’t be afraid to mix things up and learn through trial and error.

Analysis

Let’s assume that the previous stage was productive and that we have come up with a few concepts. Now, we need to decide which works the best and create a digital mock-up of the concept to show it to our client.

That can be a tricky part. For example, the design may not be perfect, but a great concept might be there. Or some of your designs might be average, but if you combine all the positives, you may come up with an excellent logo. That’s why it is important not to rush things. Take your time, rest if you feel like it, and then come back and look at your designs in a fresh light.

Presentation

This is where you present your client with the mock-up and get feedback. Perhaps not all of the client’s advice and critique can find their spot in the final product, but it would be wise to take at least some of them on board. However, some designers prefer showing the finished work rather than bringing clients into the designing stage.

Production

The final part of the process is producing the logo. During this stage, you are transforming your mock-up into the final product by adding color, shading, etc. Make sure not to overcomplicate things. The simpler the design, the more memorable it usually is.

Software and hardware

We’ve set the designing principles so far. But to get the actual job done, we need software and possibly some additional tools. On the software side of things, we recommend using Adobe Illustrator as it features a streamlined interface and an abundance of functionality, making it easier to design logos in a vector format.

Both Windows PC and Mac are a perfect fit when it comes to hardware. Also, a keyboard and mouse are usually enough, although some designers prefer using a graphics tablet such as Wacom as an input method.

Final thoughts

This concludes our logo design cheat sheet. Note that the design process itself usually varies from designer to designer. With each designer doing things slightly differently, let this article serve as a base guide for your project. We are confident that by implementing the advice laid down in this post, you will be able to come up with a beautiful and memorable logo design of your own.

Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

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