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Your Guide to Logo Design [Everything You Need to Know]

by | Branding, Graphic Design

How long does it take to make a logo? How much does it cost?

The quick answer is you can make a logo at no cost in about twenty seconds.

How is this possible?!  You may ask. Are there logo designers out there making a fortune off of creating logos? Is it a big scam?!

Don’t Worry. It’s not.

Let me clarify my previous answer.

It’s possible to make a logo in a relatively short amount of time and have it appear professionally made.

There are a multitude of logo generators out there. Just do a quick Google search.

For example, Canva is known for being the design tool of choice for nondesigners (although us designers have our uses for it too).

In Canva, you can simply select a template, add your name, and pop in a color and tada! Your brand new logo is ready to go.

Now before you go running off, know that there is a lot more to achieving an original, unique, and effective logo that represents your brand than that. 

Consider this, Canva’s free templates are open to all its users – 15 million of them.

Chances are, someone has already used that beautiful logo template.

That’s like discovering that five other kids in your class already have your name. Or, that someone at your class reunion is wearing the exact same outfit as you…

Starting to wonder if there’s more to logo design than you thought?!

There is… 

Today we’re going to walk you through the secrets to an unforgettable logo:

A Logo is not your Brand

 

Just like the common cold that makes your mind all fuzzy and puts you off balance, big and small companies alike suffer from the symptoms of thinking a logo is the foundation of their brand.

These symptoms creep up slowly…a fog around making business decisions, marketing strategies not working, poor audience reception, sales stagnant or not growing… sound familiar?

Understand this: a logo is not your brand.

A logo is meant to be symbolic of your brand, but without any meaning or substance behind it, it’s simply a graphic.

When you see the American flag, you know what it represents and have certain feelings toward it; when you see the Nazi symbol, you know what it represents and you have certain feelings toward it.

This is because these symbols represent a set of ideals and practices. 

It’s no different with company logos.

When you see the Apple logo, you’d know which company it belongs to and the feelings that company’s products and practices evoke.

Each of these symbols has a reputation behind them and you have a certain reaction to them. Your brain recognizes them.

If you were shown a random image with a company name by it, you wouldn’t know what they represent and would be less keen to trust it.

As Marty Neumeirer says, a “brand is your reputation.”

You have to build that reputation.

 

Define your Brand

 

So how do you build a good reputation?

You have to know your business and be able to define your brand.

 

Mission &Values

It’s vital that you know your mission & values – the core of your brand centers around knowing your mission and values.

Keep it authentic to you.

Businesses get caught up in writing a mission statement that they think their customer wants to hear, rather than what is authentic to their brand.

If you don’t have a clear mission statement, you’re just going around in circles, wondering why your business isn’t more successful.

It’s not just a string of words, it’s how you run your business.

In order for it to be effective, live it out in everything you do.

 

 

Brand Personality

 

Once you understand your mission it’s important to identify your brand personality.

For example, are you formal and professional or casual and friendly? What would your audience expect?

Understanding your brand personality is another key to creating a message that resonates with your audience.

To begin, consider using the Jungian Archetypes.

Brand Name

 

Finally, have a good business name

Your name, logo, and brand as a whole should be appealing to your target audience.

Market research is vital to making sure your efforts are aimed at the right audience. 

 

Types of Logos

So what logo is right for your business? We’ll unpack the seven main types, divided into three categories.

 

1. Typography Marks

Typography type marks are great when starting out because they’re often less expensive and help distinguish your brand name.

They’re also well suited for brand names that are unique, such as a Magic-Spell, or that use a person’s name.

 

Lettermark

A combination of letters, usually initials or an abbreviation of the brand name.

Example:

 

Wordmark

The full brand name. It can be simple or elaborate, like Coca-Cola. Wordmarks are often a good opportunity to use a unique font.

Example:

 

 

2. Combo

Combination marks are the most commonly seen and are the most versatile.

They often combine a wordmark with a pictorial mark and can be used interchangeably – both should be iconic enough to the brand to be able to stand on their own.

 

Combination Mark

A combination of a wordmark and icon. When successful the components of this type of logo can be recognized separately as well as they do together.

Example:

 

Emblem Mark

A more specific type of combination mark whose icon is often more complicated in design. This type is often used in academic settings. However, Harley Davidson and the older Starbucks logo iterations are also examples of emblem marks.

Example:

 

3. Image

You know you have a well-known brand name when your brand can be recognized just by the icon part of the logo (without the brand name).

Starbucks recently achieved this status. Nike and Apple are other common examples.

 

Pictorial Mark

A swish means Nike. An apple with a bite out of it means Apple. Pictorial marks are a visual symbol of your brand.

Example:

 

Mascot Mark

A type of pictorial mark that relies on a mascot as a symbol. Such as the Mailchimp Monkey, Ronald McDonald – the clown for McDonald’s, and Planter’s Mr. Peanut. This type of mark is often seen when marketing towards kids or for universities.

Example:

 

Abstract Mark

A very unique mark that isn’t instantly recognizable as a standard form, it can be a good option when your business doesn’t have a clear symbol that would represent it. Be careful with abstract marks though as they might not correlate with your brand as easily.

Example:

 

The Benu Logo

 

When it comes to creating a logo, we encourage you to look deeper, beyond just a random image, to the core of what you want your brand to stand for.

When designing our logo, we wanted it to represent renewal – hence the Phoenix.

We chose a combination mark type logo that emphasized the phoenix icon with the hopes that one day that icon will be recognized by itself.

Additionally, the Egyptian firebird is called a Bennu or Benu bird.

That’s how our logo was born!

 

 

Logo Versatility

 

Now that you have a sense of the different types of logos out there, also consider the uses of your logo.

Will it be large on a sign outside your business? Will it be small on your stationery?

Make sure your logo fits your needs and won’t limit you as you grow. 

 

Size

 

Scalability is vital to have a successful logo. That’s why simpler is often better.

Although it’s tempting to put a lot of detail into your logo, consider how it would look when shrunk down to the size of a pencil eraser (favicon).

Your logo will need to look crisp and clear on a variety of applications (both digital and print).

 

Digital

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Favicon
  • Email
  • Documents
  • Ads
  • Marketing materials

 

Print

  • Signage
  • Stationery
  • Business Cards
  • Marketing materials
  • Tags

 

And more!!!

 

Orientation

 

A logo is typically made in a certain orientation as the “primary” logo – either horizontal, vertical, or stacked so that it can be used in either a horizontal or vertical layout.

 

          Horizontal Logo Alignment

 

         Vertical Logo Alignment

 

Consider the different applications listed above and make sure your logo will fit well in their layout.

A circular orientation can also be popular.

 

Color

 

Most logos will be created in color, but there are times when you’ll want it all to be black or all to be white. When placed on a photo for example, or when printing in black and white.

Also, if you have multiple colors in your color palette, you could have your logo be in each of those colors if it fits your branding.

Make sure to have options.

 

Animation

 

Animated logos are becoming more popular as video creation is on the rise.

If videos are part of your business’s marketing strategy, having an animated logo is recommended.

Animated logos can be simple, or flashy, just make sure its authentic to your brand.

Our current Phoenix isn’t ready to enter the ashes of animated bliss yet, so here’s a little blast from the past as an example:

 

Trademarking

 

The last, and perhaps most important thing to consider is if and when you should trademark your logo.

Is it for everyone? No, but everyone should think about trademarking when picking their brand name and the logo to go with it.

Trademarking will cost roughly $700 to register. Costs increase depending on your attorney, how many categories your business falls into, and if you’re trademarking your business name as well as your logo (yes, those are separate).

 

We recommend that you don’t trademark right away unless you’re going for a homerun from the start, are in a competitive industry, and are positive you love your branding.

Trademarking can be expensive for most startups and oftentimes, in the beginning, you’re still testing out your market.

Use the first year or two to get off the ground so be very attentive to your audience’s feedback and adjust your branding as necessary.

Once you have a good sense of your brand identity, consider trademarking.

 

Also, recognize that trademarking will take several months (expect at least three, and up to a year, depending on how complex your trademarking case is).

In the meantime, have your logo say “™” next to it to claim it as your own. Note: that this does not offer any legal protection, but it’s like having the sign “beware of dog” next to your house, to ward off others from using it.

Logos with “®” next to them means they’ve been registered with the USPTO.

DO NOT put that symbol next to your logo if it hasn’t been registered as that would be considered fraudulent.

As always, speak to an attorney who specializes in trademarking to know the current laws and regulations.

Most lawyers will provide a free initial consultation if you have any questions. Use that time wisely.

 

Wrapping Up

 

So now that you know all the aspects that go into logo design, you hopefully understand why a custom logo costs hundreds of dollars.

Although having a professional design your logo will often yield the best result, your logo will be no more than a mere graphic if you don’t know your brand.

A logo designer may be able to help guide you, but in the end, you are the expert in your business.

Our recommendation?

A logo generator can be a good fit if you’re a small scale business trying to stay small and have a tight budget.

For example, a hairstylist just starting out wouldn’t be investing her money wisely in a $600 logo.

However, if she was trying to create a new chain of hair salons, then she should consider it an investment in the long term.

If you use a logo generator or template, ensure it still stays consistent with your branding as your business evolves over time.

For example, if you start with a sun motif, then switch to a flower, then to an abstract shape, you could confuse your customers.

Choose a symbol and stick to it, as long as it fits your brand.

A good professional designer will ask about your brand, your audience, and what you want to achieve.

Find a designer who’s the right fit for you and your business. They’ll create a logo for you that will serve your business well.

 

Happy hunting!

Want help crafting your Logo? 

I’d Like to Hear from You

Gabriel Shields Benu CreativeWhich logo type does your logo fall under? Or what’s one question you have about logo design? Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to share so leave me comment below and let’s chat.

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Logo FAQs

How do I create a meaningful logo?

First and foremost remember that a logo is not your brand. A logo is symbolic of what your brand stands for and the promise you make to your audience, so go through the steps of brand development first. Know your mission & values, know your brand personality, and choose a good brand name that appeals to your target audience.

What are the different types of Logos?
There are seven main types, divided into three categories. The first category is Typography marks which include Lettermarks and Wordmarks. The next category is Combo Marks which includes Combination Marks and Emblem Marks. The last category is Image Marks such as Pictorial Marks, Mascot Marks, and Abstract Marks.
What is a Lettermark?
Lettermarks use a combination of letters, usually initials or an abbreviation of the brand name to comprise the logo. Examples are HP, UPS, and KFC.
What is a Wordmark?
Wordmarks are logos where the name of a company is spelled out. The most famous example is Coca-Cola.
What is a Combination Mark?
Combination Marks are logos that make use of both the wordmark and icon and can be combined or recognized separately. An example of this would be Amazon which combines its name with the smile icon.
What is an Emblem Mark?
Emblem Marks are logos that make use of some sort of emblem, shield, or crest and are most often used in academic settings. Famous examples are Harley Davidson and the old Starbucks logo.
What is a Pictorial Mark?
Pictorial marks are a visual symbol of your brand. Famous examples are the Nike Swoosh and the Apple icon.
What is a Mascot Mark?

Mascot Marks are a type of pictorial mark that relies on a mascot as a symbol. Take for example the Mailchimp Monkey, Ronald McDonald the clown for McDonald’s, and Planter’s Mr. Peanut. This type of mark is often seen when marketing towards kids or for universities.

What is an Abstract Mark?
Abstract Marks are very unique marks that aren’t instantly recognizable as a standard form, they can be a good option when your business doesn’t have a clear symbol that would represent it. Be careful with abstract marks though as they don’t as easily correlate with your brand. An example of this type would the logo for Monday.com.
How can I ensure my Logo is versatile?

To ensure your logo can be used in a variety of settings consider how clear the logo will look in different sizes. How will it look when it is very big and very small? If the level of detail you use is lost when it is scaled down you may want to rethink the design. Also, consider how it will look in multiple orientations such as horizontal and vertical layouts. Do you have multiple color options for different uses such as black, white, and color? And, as animated logos become more common, consider if your logo will lend itself well to animation for motion graphics.

What's the major different between using a Logo Generator and Hiring a Professional Designer?

Beyond the vast knowledge of design principles, good designers also know the right questions to ask and best practices to achieve a strong end product. Although having a professional design your logo will often yield the best result, you’ll still risk that your logo ends up being a mere graphic if you don’t know your brand. A logo designer can’t do that for you…they may be able to help guide you, but in the end, you are the expert in your business. A good professional designer will ask about your brand, your audience, and what you want to achieve. Find a designer who’s the right fit for you and your business. They’ll create a logo for you that will serve your business well. Logo generators, on the other hand, can be a good fit if you are on a budget or planning on remaining a small local shop, just remember that they are open to everyone so you run the risk of using similar elements to others and sacrificing the unique value a custom-designed logo can yield for your business.

What is the difference between “™” and “®” beside logos?
Logos with “®” next to them means they’ve been registered with the USPTO. DO NOT put that symbol next to your logo if it hasn’t been registered as that would be considered fraudulent. The “™” symbol, on the other hand, can and should be added to logo as a way of publically declaring your intent to use your logo as your own. Think of it like having the sign “beware of dog” next to your house, to ward off others from using it.

Kellly Shields Benu Creative

Creative Lead | Brand Architect

Kelly Shields is an entrepreneur, educator, and equestrian. She strategically and creatively positions businesses to become successful through branding. In a former life, Kelly was a 3D Apparel Design Specialist for Browzwear, a global 3D software company helping lead the advancement of 3D technology in the apparel industry.

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