Despite my resistance to the idea, it became clear that I was going to need a logo for my business.
A little background; I’m terrible at visual design. I understand some basic theory and principles, and I’m familiar with marketing color theory, but I really struggle to execute that theoretical knowledge. Because I have an artistic background, people often assume that I will be good at digital graphic design, but this is very much not the case. I am good at art, and bad at design. The two are entirely different disciplines.
This is where I should have outsourced, but I have more time than resources at the moment, so I figured I should at least try to do it myself.
The First Step of Logo Design: Brainstorming
So, making a logo for yourself requires a knowledge of your personal brand. This is often actually more difficult than defining elements for a business’s brand, believe it or not. So I spent a lot of time trying to define a very basic set of elements of my brand. Here’s what I came up with to start.
I also wanted to communicate a few additional concepts: writing, digital, growth, competence, professional, innovative.
So I started playing with visual elements in an attempt to try to establish my approach.
Version 1: Logo Elements
I wanted to use a monogram logo, because my current brand is my name. I knew I wanted to use at least one serif font to evoke the idea of analog print and a sense of tradition and writerliness. I knew I wanted a non-serif font to communicate concepts like modern, digital, dynamic, creative. The current color scheme of my website is mostly black and white, and the design is intended to be very clean and readable, and to direct the users’ focus to the text. I still wanted a pop of bright color to draw attention and to evoke a sense of underlying personality and quirkiness.
I settled on green as the complement, to invoke health and growth, and chose a warm, yellow-green to bring in energy and joy.
Here’s the first version. It’s very bad, but the purpose of creating this was to try to establish basic elements, and to just get into doing the damn thing.
The Second Step of Logo Design: Iteration
So I played with these basic elements and ideas, and created three versions that I thought would be a good jumping off point. I wasn’t exactly happy with any of them, but I wanted to see what direction I wanted to go in. Here are the three variations:
Here’s some of the feedback I received:
- The green letter A on top was overwhelmed by the bold black letter in the back and became difficult to notice or read.
- The logo with two shades of green was technically good, but didn’t represent my brand well. The typeface of the A was too structured and also too feminine.
- The two hollow lettering styles was too difficult to read and lacked focus.
I took that feedback, and chose a final approach. This was not going to be my final logo, and I knew that. But it was a place to move forward.
The Third Step of Logo Design: Focused Iteration
So now I had a direction to move in. Here’s the logo version that the crowd and I chose.
I started playing with letter style and element color. After a few hours, I came up with something that I thought wasn’t perfect, but that would do for now.
Here are some of the reasoning between the design decisions I made:
Here is that version:
- Changing the letter A to black made it more prominent and more readable.
- Moving the green to the letter D softened the very structural nature of that element.
- Maintaining the black frame gave it balance, and bumped up structure without overwhelming the A.
- The A and the border both being black tied them together and made the A feel more a part of the whole.
- The hollow letter D lightened that very bold type and added balance.
- The A falling just slightly beyond the border implies creativity and energy.
- The combination of a square border and the hollow serif D look almost architectural, providing structure and interest.
I had hit on something, or at least something for now. Remember, never let perfect be the enemy of good. You can always iterate and improve later.
The Fourth Step of Logo Design: Creating Logo Assets
So I had a basic logo mark. But there are a lot of contexts that you use logos in, so you’re going to need a few different assets. Some of these contexts include:
- Website banners
- Press releases
- Customer deliverables
- Branded guides and other documents
- Directory listings
I’m sure there’s a lot that I’m missing. Your logo is going to be the core of your visual brand. Other brand elements will come from that design. Your logo will be the face of your business, and you’ll want to put it in a lot of places and on a lot of things.
Here are the different logo assets I’ve created so far:
I think I’m going to make one or two more. Just make as many as you think you’ll need for each different kind of application. You can always make more later.
The Aftermath: Cleaning Up
So, this process will look different for everyone. Export your new marketing assets in a web-ready format (jpg and png are the current standards, I believe), and give them filenames that make sense so you can readily locate the one you want. Logo1, Logo2, Logo3 aren’t going to be very helpful as file names.
Here’s the really important part, though. Record your brand elements.
As mentioned earlier, your logo will feature your brand elements. It will be the asset that most often represents your brand. So you want your other marketing assets to match it. Record the following:
- Any fonts used
- Any text styling used
- Shapes or images used (save these if possible!)
- The primary, secondary, and tertiary colors used. Record these as hexcodes.
Save this information somewhere easy to find. This is going to be the beginning of a brand bible. Brand bibles are something we’re going to discuss in a whole different post, though.
Now, you can move on to updating all of your marketing assets with this logo and these elements.
What was really interesting to me about this process is that a lot of creative work follows these same steps, more or less. Even digital marketing, advertising, and SEO! Even though I hate attempting to design assets, this was a really valuable process for me to go through. It solidified a lot of my understanding about the work that I do, and it also pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a way that was honestly pretty low-stakes. And leaving your comfort zone is how you grow. And you never want to stop growing.