Designing a logo can be difficult, there are so many different types and styles of logos and as a designer it can be tough to know exactly where to start. Designing a logo doesn’t need to be a hard task and it definitely doesn’t need to take an eternity to complete. In this tutorial I will be showing you a process that will hopefully help you create a professional logo design for your client in minutes, not hours. This method will work for any type of client you have.
As an example I will be using a logo I designed for a stock broking firm called “Petra Capital“. Petra Capital is an independently owned, boutique, Australian institutional stock broking firm, which provides specialised services to financial/institutional clients and to mining/industrial companies. The word “Petra” means “rock” in Greek.
This logo design tutorial will only take a short time to complete (around 5 minutes) and it will require Adobe illustrator, but it should give you a solid method to create future logo designs. Of course this isn’t the only way to go about designing a logo, but it does try and put some structure around the very creative and sometimes very random logo design process. Lets, get started.
Planning your logo design
Check out the competition:
It’s always a good idea to first have a look at some of your clients competitors as it will give you an idea of what is currently out there and it will also help you position your client in the market in terms of branding and corporate image. Checking out the competitors is a simple as performing a search on Google. Write down any ideas you find that could help you with your client’s logo design.
Create a colour Scheme:
Deciding on a colour scheme is an important part of any logo design. Colour psychology tells us that the company colours can greatly influence how people view the company as a whole. As a designer, deciding on the company colours at an early stage can help us better define the direction we are taking concerning the basic look and feel of the company image.
There are some great tools that can help us in deciding on company colours including Adobe Kuler and Colour Lovers. Both of these online tools allow you to search through colour schemes for inspiration and ideas. Since I was creating a logo for a stock broking firm that specialised in mining companies I searched for the following words: finance, money, corporate, clean, rock. Here is the colour scheme I created for Petra Capital:
Decide on the type of logo:
There are three basic logo types:
- Illustrative logo: These types of logos usually consist of quite complex drawings with a lot of colours. They are quite high impact but I usually steer clear of them because they do not scale down very well due to their high level of detail. I wouldn’t recommend using illustrative logos for corporate clients.
- Iconic logo: I’m a big fan of these types of logos which consist of an icon or symbol along with the logo text. Iconic logos are usually more simple and abstract, they scale down well and are quick and cheap to print due to their low detail and colour complexity.
- Textual logo: This is a more traditional type of logo design which basically involves only text in the logo design. Fonts are usually tweaked to give the logo an original feel. These types of logos lack the wow factor that the iconic logos have but they can be a good choice for conservative companies like law firms and finance companies. They scale well and are great for printing.
I decided to go for an iconic logo design for the “Petra Capital” logo just to help it stand out a bit from the crowd.
Do some initial sketches:
Now that we know what’s out there in terms of competition and we also have a colour scheme in mind, it’s time to start thinking about the symbolism we would like to incorporate into our logo. This is probably the most challenging and timely part of the logo design process. A great way to organise your thoughts and ideas is to draw up a quick morphological matrix like the one below.
The components of your logo design go into the left hand column and your ideas or solutions go on the right. Try choosing a few combinations of your ideas to create a symbol that represents your client’s company in a simple yet clever and meaningful way. I have circled the ideas I used in the “Petra Capital” logo. Since “Petra Capital” is a stock broking firm that specialises in mining companies I decided to combine an image of mountains with a line graph that represents stock market trends. A quick sketch can be seen here.
Play with some fonts:
Now that we have planned out the colours, the logo style and also the symbolism that will be used in the logo, it’s time to start looking at some fonts. Since it can take a while to create your own font, the best alternative is to find a font you like and alter it to make it unique. A great place to search for, preview and download free and premium fonts is www.searchfreefonts.com. Download a few that you like and place them in your fonts folder on your computer. You can access your fonts folder by clicking on the start menu, going to control panel, then clicking on the fonts folder (Windows XP).
Creating your logo design
We have planned out our logo design, now it’s time for the easy part, creating it. Let’s open up Adobe Illustrator and get started. There are a few basic logo design principles to consider before we start.
- Create your logo in Adobe Illustrator as this is the industry standard. It will allow you to create a vector file that can be re-sized without any loss of quality. You will also be able to have your logo commercially printed on business cards, stationery and other promotional items.
- Make sure you create your logo using “CMYK” colour mode.
- Use Pantone colours for your logo to ensure colour accuracy. To choose a Pantone colour in Adobe Illustrator simply click on the little arrow in the top right corner of the colours palette. Then select “Pantone Solid Coated” from the options. Try to match the colours you chose originally with colours from the Pantone library.
Draw the logo symbol:
Using our initial sketch as a guide, lets draw our logo symbol using the shapes and the pen tool. The pathfinder is also useful when you need to crop or combine different shapes. I won’t go into how to use these tools as there are many tutorials that can help you with this. Once you have drawn your shapes you can then fill them with your company colours. Try to remember that your logo will also need to work in black and white colour, so keep this in mind when applying your colours and creating your symbol.
Experiment with fonts:
Type your logo text next to your logo symbol and apply the fonts you downloaded earlier. Once you find a suitable font you can outline it by holding “CTRL + SHIFT” then pressing “O”. You can tweak this font using the “Direct Selection tool” (The small white arrow in the Illustrator toolbar). Simply click on the outline of your font and move around the control points until you are happy with it. You can also add and remove control points using the pen tool. Once you are happy with the logo text you can apply your main company colour to it.
Polish and test out your logo:
The last thing that’s left to do is polish up your logo. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Scale the logo to a small business card size and make sure it still looks legible.
- Test the logo in black and white colour.
- Check the kerning. Flip the logo upside-down and check that the distance between letters is even.
Now save your logo as an “.AI” file. That’s it, you’re done! You now have a professional logo design for your client as well as a method for designing logo’s quickly and easily in the future. You can see my finished “Petra Capital” logo below. Best of luck with your designs.