I’m not a logo designer. Still, from time to time I find myself in the process of crafting one. I know getting a logo is one great feeling, suddenly your business or idea have an identity. It is happening, it is real.
Search online and you’ll find tons of articles on what defines a good logo. You can buy books on this topic, some of our very own dedicates their lives to this craft. This tutorial though, will only focus on the essentials: I will take you through my core principles that I tend to follow and I promise, they will take you far. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking.
1 – Identity
You might have an initial idea of a possible outcome but it’s good to do some research. It will help you create clarity and it can be as easy as answering a few questions.
Let’s take an example, your target audience. Quite often people will say their product or service is for everyone, when in fact it’s an app for millennials living in big cities, in Europe. If you want to make solid decisions, you need to be specific.
Some useful questions to answer:
- What do you want your logo to be associated with?
- Who is your target audience?
- What’s the history behind your brand?
- What’s your vision?
You want the logo to reflect your core values. When it comes to product design we usually say “form follows function” but when it comes to logo design, maybe we can say “form follows identity”.
I decided to take a minimal approach for Basic Atom. I wanted something flat and friendly, suppressing sharp corners and focusing on soft and rounded intersections.
2 – Colors
If you already have a style guide, that’s great. But I’d suggest to focus on black and white to begin with.
3 – Sketch
Get some dotted paper, seriously. STOP right now if you don’t have any, it is awesome. Especially when sketching a logo, personally I can’t live without it. If you don’t have a dotted notebook you can grab some free templates over here. It includes a handy range of sheets for logo and icon design.
Now just let if go, quality is not important but quantity. Get your timer ready and sketch intensely for short intervals, like 3 minutes. Make it a game and play! Once again it’s absolutely epic when you set specific goals, in terms of productivity it’s day and night.
4 – Digital
Scan or take photos of your favorite ideas. Even though I use Photoshop and Illustrator, my new tools of choice is Sketch by Bohemian Coding and Affinity Designer. Play with shapes and text, at this stage it shouldn’t be pixel perfect.
Print some of the concepts and put them on the wall. This will give you perspective and definitely helps with proportions.
5 – Typography
Start from scratch or find a typeface that matches your design, investing in a nice font is totally worth it. I like to support independent type foundries, here’s a couple I love: Lost Type, James T. Edmondson and Mostardesign Type Foundry.
To make the type super crisp you probably need to manually give it some love. I usually convert the font to curves and snap some of the points to the pixel grid.
6 – Engineering
I love this step, it’s time to refine your logo. It’s the moment to make it ready for any adventure. What you want is flexibility when it comes to size.
I usually go with a multiplier of 14. This means the icon can be displayed in a crisp format starting from 14 by 14 pixel followed by the name. It can then easily be scaled to 28 by 28, 42 by 42, 56 by 56 and so on.
If you want it to be pixel perfect make sure every element, shape or stroke is displayed as an integer from the smallest defined size. This is especially true when it comes to horizontal and vertical lines. If you have a 28 by 28 pixel square with an inner 2px stroke, divide that by two and you’ll get a shape measuring 14 by 14 pixels with a 1px stroke, perfect! If your initial stroke measured 3px, it would have resulted in a 1.5px stroke. You’ll only get away with that on retina. Up to you to define what the smallest size should be and from there, everything is allowed.
7 – Social
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… and so on all uses square profile pictures. Squeezing your logo (icon + name) in there is not optimal. Most of the time I go with just the icon, let it breathe. And if you’re picky, don’t just upload any size. Each platform uses specific dimensions, as an example: Twitter is 400 by 400 pixel and Facebook is 180 by 180. You should also add your icon to your website, 512 by 512 pixel is perfect.
Hope this was helpful! To wrap things up, below are a couple of logos I’ve made: