10 golden rules of logo design

It all kicks off with a lightbulb moment, a stroke of genius, a ripple in spacetime. Whatever you’d like to call it, a strong idea tends to spark from a single point, rapidly expanding into something significant. Some of these monumental ideas need representation, a name, a stamp, or even both. We are talking about logos, of course. And just like naming your first puppy or rabbit, it’s not so straightforward. There are a lot of forces at play when naming anything, especially an entity as complex as a multinational corporation. So Freepik is here to help, providing you with some essential information about how to do your own logo design. 10 golden rules to be more specific. So, without stalling you any further. Let’s dive right into it.

Conception to reality

Lightbulb sketch

Sketching ideas are as raw as things can get, and no matter how talented you are at picking up the pencil, the action is immediate and can convey an idea that many people will understand, including the future you. Acting like a bookmark of thought, you can reignite lightbulb moments with incredible precision. For the thinkers out there, keep a notepad close by. You never know when you’ll need it. In addition, phones and tablets provide some incredible drawing tool apps which many current graphic designers rely on to conjure some of the best logos we see today.

From idea to brief

It’s highly likely that an idea for a logo is not dreamt up by a designer but by a start-up company or a marketing agency that seeks the expertise of a graphic designer. In this form of communication, it is paramount that instructions are set out as clearly as possible and straight to the point, avoiding confusion between the two parties. In the case of logo design, you will be briefed on a variety of expectations such as size, orientation, color, and perhaps even a set of brand guidelines, especially when working with an existing brand.

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity

When a great idea is generated, its identity will inevitably find itself at a crossroads. Where will your idea gravitate towards? Objectivity, or Subjectivity. These two polar opposites are, in context, based on objectivity representing design, logic, and reason. Whereas subjectivity leans more toward art, emotion, and opinion. Logo design is about finding the right balance between these two extremes, depending on the function and what it represents.

The 10 Golden Rules

It's important to gain a little traction before designing a logo.

It requires a little skill to develop a functional logo, and perhaps you have a fair bit of experience already. But for those who are rushed for time or simply lack the more creative skills, there is help just a click away. Check out Wepik, a highly intuitive, in-browser logo design tool, supported by the Freepik asset library. Drag and drop elements and start editing your very own logo. These 10 golden rules will still apply to you, so keep reading!

1) Planning and market research

It’s important to gain a little traction before designing a logo. Market research is an absolute must. Look at what competitors are doing and note down the strengths and weaknesses of their branding. Target audience is also going to make a huge impact on the decisions you make. And while you are at it, gather inspiration from existing logos, many of which can be found right here in Freepik’s asset library. Nothing that has just been mentioned is copying or cheating. They are a necessary first step to creating something truly unique.

Check out these inspirational logos to get you started:

2) Start simple

Simple is best, using letters and shapes to form a foundation for your logo design.

Thanks to your market research and your own observations, you should have your starting point lodged in your head or maybe from a brief you received in an email. You would then know what kind of logo you want to design:

  • Monogram is the term to describe logo ideas using initials that make for quick and direct recognition. (IBM, H&M, HBO, and NASA)
  • Wordmark is a term that represents a name based logo design using the full word of the brand for clear representation. (Kellogg´s, Coca Cola, Sony, and Google)
  • Pictorial Mark is a term for logos using a stand-alone logo icon. It is a big statement to use a pictorial mark alone and only advise highly recognized businesses to do so. (Twitter, Apple, Shell, and Instagram)
  • Combination Mark is a term used for combining a Monogram or a Wordmark with a Pictorial Mark. These are designed for high impact and have the power to deliver more insight into consumers and can even include a tagline. (Burger King, Puma, Doritos, and Paramount)

Simple is best, using letters and shapes to form a foundation for your design. Color can always be added in later and so at this stage, sticking to black and white will keep you from distraction. Present to yourself a few variations of shape combinations and formats for you to observe, helping you envision the final design. It’s encouraged to keep a cool head and not go too wild, supporting the notion that a pure mind is less chaotic and more minimalistic.

3) Stand out with ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’

There are literally millions of logos out there, and it’s your responsibility to invent something as unique and recognizable as possible. This is where your great lightbulb moment really comes into play. Innovate, look for loopholes, and be clever, using techniques like the use of metaphors and symbolism, or perhaps find a profound once-in-a-blue-moon connection that ties in with the brand’s purpose. This is where some logos can really impress and be memorable, or where they fail and just become another logo that serves its purpose but not much else.

4) A logo should resonate with purpose

Start to think about the brand as a whole. Is the logo going to be Objective or Subjective? What mood is it going to set upon its persons of interest? Brand identity is a multi-layered entity that gives off very human qualities, all determined by the logo’s shape, color, and choice of elements. Once you start to feel the logo resonating with the brand’s overall purpose, you’ll know you are doing something right. Check out this article on All-American logos, that takes you on an epic journey of designing a truly American logo!

5) Ready your logo for the real world

As much as a logo needs to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it also needs to function in the real world. It’s time to make some logical decisions such as size, visibility, and clarity so the logo can perform on any surface, no matter how big or small. Here are a few situations in which logos are commonly seen:

6) Is your logo timeless?

Look around you and pick out some brands that have been around all your life. How many can you think of? These age-old brands have seen it all. However, their logos haven’t changed, with the exception of minor updates, mainly due to the digital age. Such brands are timeless, potentially staying with us forever, and with time they only become stronger and more a part of our world. It’s good practice to keep this in mind when creating a logo for anyone. Ask yourself, is this design going to survive the elements of time? You never know how successful a logo could be as it travels through the ages.

7) Know when to take risks

Taking big risks can offer a big reward with logo

In some cases, taking big risks can offer a big reward, and in the often saturated world of advertising, you could find yourself taking such risks. We are all susceptible to the weird and the obscure, turning our heads at something we can’t quite understand or perhaps causing us to giggle to ourselves just a little. Any kind of human emotion drawn to your logo design is welcome, and such curiosities could lead to a client paying you big money.

8) Create variations of your logo design

The finishing line is in sight. So it may seem. But there is always room for improvement. Why not branch off from your single design, creating multiple variations to compare tangential ideas? This can really push your idea, squeezing out even more possibilities for your concept to shine bright.

9) Open up to constructive criticism

Before you crack out the champagne, it’s advised to gain a little perspective on your logo design. Let’s face it, you’ve been staring at this project for hours, weeks, or months and your own perspective might be a little warped or biased. Now is the time to ask a friend, colleague, or someone you trust to share their opinions. Perhaps there is something you have overlooked.

10) Test your logo

Test the logo, push it to its limits, and think of how a corporation might use it. There are many techniques for testing your logo. A common and relatively easy way is to use logo mockup templates and if you’re comfortable in photoshop why not use these PSD logo mockups. You don’t even need to leave your computer! They are also a great way to present logos to clients, as you can see them in a realistic setting. Other more rigorous techniques are printing them out, observing on multiple devices, or running a survey.

Nevertheless, rules are there to be broken

Yes, that’s right. Rules are not to everyone’s taste, and when you take a step back at the bigger picture, such renegade logo designers must exist to accommodate such a broad demand for this specialist service. After all, we want logos to progress and pick up new trends along the way to keep this vibrant design sector on its toes.

It is hopeful that once you have read this in-depth article, you will feel energized into creating something remarkable for a client, a boss, or even a friend who has certain expectations of your abilities. Let’s deliver on your promise of providing on-point, highly-tuned logo designs that inspire future generations. Why not upload your own logo designs to Freepik’s ever-expanding asset library and see where your creations take you?