If your brand or company was a person, the logo would be its face.
Bottom line: If you’re a developer, you’re going to need a logo. Logos are how we as consumers interact with brands. The average American three-year-old can identify over 100 logos. It’s the visual identifier that tells us we undoubtedly just enjoyed a Coke or a Pepsi, or that we drive a Chevy or Ford. Below are nine tips on how to make a great logo, whether you're doing the designing or if you hire a professional.
1. Your logo is not your brand.
People often assume the logo for a brand is the brand, but your logo is just one aspect of it. There are many visual aspects to a brand, like the font or color palette you choose.
2. Do some soul searching.
Take an hour or two to contemplate your brand’s core ideas and principles. You can begin with your mission statement or product description. Then try some abstract thought exercises.
Think about your brand as a person, and put that person in a scenario. For example: your brand is about to take a road trip. What kind of car is it driving? What color is the car? Where is it going? The more you flesh out that scenario, the better understanding you’ll have of the “personality” and “voice” of your brand.
Another useful exercise is word association. Take some key words from your mission statement or your imaginary scenario, and write down as many associated words as you can. If speed is something you associate with your brand, write down things like “fox” or “sports car.” Keep going until you run out of ideas. This method fuels the brainstorming and sketching you’ll do later.
3. Do your research.
There is nothing worse than finishing an amazing logo and finding out five other companies have done different versions of the same thing. Research brands in your industry and audit so you know what not to do, and to see what works.
4. Choose between mark and type. Or don’t.
There are essentially two types of logos: mark and typographic. A mark can be an illustration or an abstract shape. A typographic logo is type and letters, usually your brand’s name. They can be combined, but it’s not a requirement. A logo can function just as well as a standalone mark, or just the type.
5. Put pencil to paper.
Start roughing out some sketches for your logo based on the words and scenarios you created. If you’re more comfortable on the computer, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ll be able to flesh out more ideas from the get-go with the old fashioned route. And that’s what you want at this point: quantity.
6. The world isn’t in black and white. But your logo should start that way.
It’s essential to start in black and shades of grey. Skipping color at this point will help you focus on more important details.
Pick two or three of your sketches, and start vectorizing them in your vector graphics program of choice. Vector graphics are key, as your logo will be able to scale up to any size when you’re finished. At this point, focus on clarity, visual balance, line, and shape. If you’re working with type, examine how the letters interact with each other. If you’re doing a combination of type and a mark, do vertical and horizontal layouts.
7. Make it simple, scaleable, and timeless.
Making your logo scaleable doesn’t just mean creating your logo as a vector graphic. Your logo needs to be able to be read at any size. Look at it really small, and then really big and see if you can still understand it. Think about how your logo will hold up over time. Will it look dated in 20 years? Avoid fads and trends. Look back to your research at this point to see how other logos have changed over the years.
8. Add some color.
Color is a beast, and can be tough to understand. That’s why designers call it Color Theory and not Color Science. Fortunately, there are resources that can help you figure out the best palette.
Kuler is a great resource from Adobe, and with the latest version of Illustrator can export palettes right into the program. Paletton lets you see how color blindness can affect the perception of your logo. Josef Albers wrote the book on color theory, and now there’s a great app out there for it.
9. Wrap it up.
Once you’re happy with your logo, make one document with all the iterations you’ll need on it, including app store icon, favicon, and letterhead. This list will come in handy as you go forth and design your app, website, and print materials.
Think about how your logo should and shouldn’t be used, and write up some usage guidelines, for when you work with other designers.
Finally, keep in mind these are just guidelines. There is no definitive right or wrong way to approach logo design. The best part about any creative endeavor is learning the basic rules, so then you can break them and make something truly unique. Good luck!
Millennial Media is the leading mobile ad marketplace, making mobile simple for the world’s top brands, app developers, and mobile web publishers. The company's data and technology assets enable advertisers to connect with target audiences at scale, while driving monetization for publisher and developer partners. AOL acquired Millennial Media on October 23, 2015. Millennial Media boosts AOL's global, mobile capabilities and scale across ONE by AOL for advertisers and agencies, and offers the most attractive monetization platform for app developers.