Howdy Earthlings! Are you about to embark on a business adventure, or perhaps you’re planning to rebrand? Well I want to talk to you about what goes into designing a logo identity. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms brand and logo before, but do you know what the key differences between the two are? I’ll go over an example here to help define the purpose of each word before diving into the what goes into designing a logo.
Let’s go for a trip to the grocery store… the store itself has a logo, typically above the door before you enter. Now aside from all of the food and fresh donuts in there, the store implements their brand; you’ll see signs above each isle to let you know what’s down them, store flyers to let you know what’s on sale that week, employee uniforms accompanied by their name tags, and then the font choices and overall colour schemes that tie all of them together.
To be fair, your brand is also made up of a lot of things that are more than just visual: company mission statements and the company’s vision, core values of the business itself, and you could even consider the music you use in any tv/radio ads to be a part of your overall brand as well.
All of that being said, we are going to go into what would be considered the visual heart of your brand, and that’s the logo.
You see, the creation of your logo helps to set-up certain things like the family of fonts or colour palette that you will plan to use across your entire brand. The design will also be one of the first things you see before getting to know what the business is all about. It can start the conversation between you and prospective clients just as easily as it can scare someone away from getting to know more about the business behind the logo.
Ultimately, depending on the type of business you’re starting will help you decide what route you’re going to take when it comes to designing a logo. You may write up a business plan first which is a great resource to start from when deciding what the overall look and overall of the design will be. Will you get a warm and inviting vibe from the colour choices, will the font be whimsical and airy, or will you have a BOLD, impactful design that gets straight to the point?!
On the other hand, a business plan may not be necessary for your endeavours (perhaps you’re doing something on the side with one of your hobbies). You’re at the point where you’ve done some brainstorming, and you’ve already envisioned what your logo will look like. Other logos have spoken out to you (metaphorically speaking), and now you just need a designer or a little bit of guidance to get you started on designing your own.
So this brings us to the core of what this blog post is all about; what goes into a logo design? Well the first thing you may not have thought of immediately is the software/program you’re going to use to design it. Depending on the application you’re going to find out pretty quick what the limitations are that come along with it, based on the plan you had in mind. Does it have grand library of font choices to make sure you find the right one? What kind of effects can you use on colours, fonts, and/or shapes to give it that specific look that you are going after? Most importantly, can you control the tracking/kerning of the fonts you are using?
‘Wait a minute, what is tracking/kerning?‘
Well I’m glad you asked because this is something that I see that gets overlooked in logo design more than anything else, especially if it is a DIY logo, or even a logo that is rushed. Whether it be on a website, or via the font available in the program you’re using, it’s important that you have the capability to manipulate the space in-between the letters (kerning) and the ability to edit the overall space of the word you’ve typed out (tracking).
Both kerning and tracking help with the flow and legibility of the word you are reading. That flow is defined by the positive and negative space in between each character. Too close, and it looks unpleasant to the eye (I call this suffocating your font), and to staggered/uneven spacing will make it less appealing as well (I call this… actually, I don’t call this anything, just don’t do it as this sticks out like a sore thumb (especially in-between letters with angles and curves next to straight lines)).
Here are a couple of examples of what happens when you spend a little more time tweaking the spacing of your type, compared to what some programs will automatically do for you when you first type it out (I’ve exaggerated the kerning a little more in the first example, as depending on the font provider/designer where you get your font(s) from, they may have already put in a decent amount of time and effort so you don’t have to do as much work making changes):
There is also leading/line-height, which is just the vertical space between two words. Example: if I took ‘Cardboard Spaceship’ and stacked the words on top of one another. Like this (an alternate version of my logo):
So why am I stressing the importance of this? I believe it is one of the key factors for creating a design that has an essence of longevity to it. When I was initially taught how to design a logo, one of the items on the checklist that stood out to me the most was, attempting to design something timeless. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to nail it on the head every time, people and businesses change, and so will their brand. Creating a logo that can last a lifetime just means that you’re focusing on every little detail of what goes into designing it.
Focusing on the overall space in-between each and every character, using math to determine the gap between the name and it’s icon/watermark, and then paying attention to the overall composition between the font and the icon that you have chosen to go with.
Something clean, legible, and inviting can withstand the tests of time when it comes to considering a redesign… or it will at least limit the amount of work that is needed when it comes to rebranding.
Here we took a logo file that was provided to us in an image format, then turned it into a vector file (scalable in size), and began to do a rebrand to the original font choice. You can really see the affect tracking/kerning has on your logo:
So at this point we have covered the importance of software used to create a logo, and the importance of spacing when it comes to the overall appearance. Other important things to consider when it comes to the visual aspects are font choice, colour palettes, and the flexibility of the overall design.
Do you choose an elegant and cursive font type, or one that has serifs on it to add a dapper, distinguished look and feel to your design? How about something light and playful vs. in your face and impactful? Your font choice will add directly to the essence of what your brand is all about it, and at the very least, it will grab the attention of your audience to the point where they will end up googling your business name to see what it is you’re offering.
After you’ve found the perfect font, and have the design all laid out, it’s time to add a splash of colour. This will set the overall tone and mood you are going for, and perhaps offer up some sort of symbolism towards what business services you are offering (ie. green for an environmentally friendly business endeavour).
It’s a very good idea to go with colours that compliment one another, and for the most part you want to limit yourself to two or three colour choices. Setting a limit to your colour palette will aid in efficiently designing other items for your business, and being able to make colour selections a lot quicker for seasonal advertising, and other related design material.
Lastly, something important to think about is the logos flexibility; is it just as legible at a smaller size as it is at a larger one? Are you super eager to print your logo on something narrow and round like an office pen, but forgot to have a horizontal version of your logo created as well? And how much detail was put into the logo icon, that when you print it onto something small like a business card, or ends up in the profile pic of a social media platform like Instagram; will all of the finer intricacies get lost when shrinking it down to accommodate these smaller sizes?
So the question was, what goes into a logo design? As you can see, this really comes down to what your design needs are. If you’re only planning on doing something temporary, how much effort and time should really be put into it? And if you’re planning on building something for the long term, do you start to see your logo and overall brand design as an investment towards your future?
If you’re ever struggling to find out where you fall on the spectrum, feel free to hit us up! We can help you find the right path to start on, and assist you in allocating a sufficient amount of time towards the logo you have envisioned as well.
Peace oot Earthlings!