Design a Logo – The Ultimate Guide

by . January 11th, 2008

Logography is arguably one of the most important and valued areas of design.

A quality logo design combined with the branding of an organization or company can become one of the most powerful forces today. If you love logo design as much as I do, then I am sure you will enjoy these logo design tips and resources.


Concepts, Concepts, Concepts!

I like to believe there’s a perfect concept out there for every project, but the hard part is finding it – or at least something close to it. The only way to do this is to brainstorm like crazy. Start looking up competitors, do Google image searches, write down keywords, do some mind mapping, and make sure you put everything down on paper! You don’t want to come up with a great idea only to forget it the next morning.

Nothing like Sketching

A lot of designers like to go straight to the computer, but the power of sketching is often underestimated. You can quickly sketch out multiple concepts and create variations to see what works and what doesn’t – in a matter of minutes. The computer will slow you down so be sure to break out the sketch pad, colored pencils, markers or whatever you prefer – and start sketching away.

Did you know? Large design companies will often sketch out dozens of pages of logo concepts before they even touch a computer mouse. Take a tip from the pros and focus on your sketches first.

Research the End Requirements

It’s always a good idea to talk to your client at the start to see what they plan on doing with the logo. Ask them if it going to just be on stationary, logo items or is it going to be on billboards and banners and such. This can help you better fine tune the logo for them to make sure it will look right in multiple instances.

Use the Most Professional Program

Although it can be tempting to use a program like Adobe Photoshop to design logos when starting out, mastering Adobe Illustrator and its pen tool will be essential if you are serious about logo design. Adobe Illustrator has a vector format that will allow your logo to be scaled up and down with no loss of quality.

Keep it Simple

In general it’s better to keep logo design simple. The main idea behind this is that you want the logo to be able to hold up well at very tiny sizes. A good test is to create a 16×16 pixel “favicon” of the logo and see how it looks. This is the smallest size the logo will probably ever be in.

Test it at Varying Sizes

Similar to the above mentioned, you should physically test the logo yourself by printing it in varying sizes. Also take a look at the logo from different distances to see how it would look on a poster, or on a t-shirt and stationary.

Test it in Multiple Colors

Clients always have different needs and different budgets and a quality logo design will be able to adapt to these circumstances and still look great. Test the logo in a variety of color printing processes, such as one-color, two-color, four-color and so on.

Test with Surrounding Text

Logos will rarely be seen totally alone, most of the time they will have taglines or other text nearby. So, why not test the logo ahead of time and see how it looks in different situations? Add a temporary tagline and see where it looks best. Justify the logo and text to the left, to the right, center it, and try out any other combinations of text and sizes.



Below are some important people who helped shape identity design and typography as we know it. There are many more influential people who could be listed here, but these happen to be some of my favorites!

Paul Rand | William Caslon | Wally Olins | Aldus Manutius | Giambattista Bodoni | Max Miedinger


If you need some inspiration for your logo design and identity design projects then check out these websites which will be sure to jump start your creative engine. Simply click the images below.





Similar to the logo design websites above, I find it very inspirational to view portfolios of designers and studios who produce quality work. Here are a few portfolios I came across recently:

Raja Sandhu

Raja Sandhu is a creative director living in Canada and has designed hundreds of logos. He has done work for clients such as Snoop Dogg and the State University of New York


Dache is a design studio founded by David Pache that is located in Switzerland. They have a large collection of recent logo designs that can help awaken ideas within you.

Common Brand

Common Brand is a major design studio that does branding, illustrations, flash animation website design & development, and even more. They have worked with major companies such as AOL and BMW Canada.



Dafont is probably the best known free font site around. They have them all neatly organized into a variety of categories. Fonts are available for both Mac and PC, and new fonts are added on a regular basis.

Urban Fonts

Urban Fonts is another truly great site that offers free fonts. It has made its way to the top in a short amount of time. They also have free dingbats, fonts for sale and forums where you can ask questions.


YouTheDesigner is a graphic design blog under the UCreative Network. We do features; give away brushes, icons, wallpapers, and other freebies; and bring you the latest news in the world of graphic design.