How to Design a Logo That Boosts Your Brand Identity

  •    Boston-based writer and content strategist. She’s passionate about branding, global content and foreign languages.

Branding… it’s an elusive concept. You can’t touch it. It doesn’t just appear. Yet it’s so important, if I search “brand identity” on Google, I get about 1,220,000 News results and 801,000 Books results.

It’s a hot topic. And there’s a ton of information out there.

For a basic definition, Investopedia describes brand identity as how a company wants to be perceived by customers. It’s purposeful. That means brand elements should be consciously chosen to reflect the mission and value a business wants to bring to market. These components can include:

  • Business name
  • Logo
  • Tone of voice
  • Tagline

In short, brand identity is what a company wants to be. That means you need to put some thought and research into each of these elements before choosing them for your own business.

For simplicity’s sake, in this post, we’re going to focus on just one element of brand identity -- a logo.

According to Siegel + Gale, notable logos are 13 percent more likely to attract attention from customers, and they’re 7 percent more likely to motivate customers to learn more about a business.

And though they’re small, logos get placed on nearly every piece of marketing or promotional materials you create for your business. All of your customers will see it. That’s why you should create your logo with brand in mind.

Here’s what you need to think about when designing your logo.

1. Start with your logo style

To kick off the logo design process, you’ll need to decide the format and layout of your design. That’s where style comes into play. You have four main styles to choose from.

Text-only logos: This format uses only the letters of your business name. Use this style if:

  • Your business name is not easily abbreviated.
  • You provide a variety of products and it’s hard to convey your offerings with one symbol.

As seen in: Coca-Cola, Google, and Yahoo!

Lettermark logos: This format uses only a few letters, usually your business’s initials. It shortens a business name while still using only text. Use this style if:

  • Your business name is long or multi-word. Long names may not fit well in other styles.
  • You’d like to represent your brand with an icon, but don’t want to use symbols.

As seen in: NASA, HP, and GE.

Icon logos: This format uses an icon or symbol to represent your business. This could be a photographed image, an abstract symbol, or a hand-drawn icon. Use this style if:

  • Your brand vision is clearly defined.
  • Your business can be represented with one single concept.

As seen in: Apple, Firefox, and Twitter.

Badge logos: This format, also known as emblem logos, combines two styles, placing text inside a symbol. Because of its traditional appearance, this style is often used by educational institutions and government agencies. Use this style if:

  • Your business has a shorter name.
  • You want a unique and versatile design.

As seen in: Harvard University, Harley Davidson, and UPS.

2. Pick the right shapes

If you decided on a lettermark or a text-only logo, go ahead and skip to step #3. This next step only applies if you chose an icon or badge logo.

If you did choose an icon or badge logo, it’s time to think about shapes. Which shapes will you use to represent your brand? First, decide whether geometric or abstract shapes better fit your business’s personality. Below, you’ll find some examples of each category.

Geometric shapes can represent organization and stability. Consider some of the meanings of these shapes:

  • Circles: Community, friendship, and unity.
  • Rectangles: Familiarity, trust, and order.
  • Triangles: Power, science, law, and energy.

Abstract shapes can represent creativity or the interpretation of ideas. Think about using some of these designs in your logo:

  • Curves: Femininity, motion, and rhythm.
  • Spiral: Creativity, growth, and evolution.
  • Horizontal lines: Community, tranquility, and calmness.
  • Vertical lines: Strength, aggression, and courage.

Which direction is right for your brand?

3. Fill in your colors

Now that you have your style and shapes, get ready to add some color.

Colors affect people in different ways. But when used properly, color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. So when deciding on colors for your logo, think back to how you want your business to be perceived.

Red: Excitement and passion.

  • Use red if you want your brand to feel energetic, powerful, warm, or dynamic.
  • As seen in: Lay’s, Red Bull, and Kellogg’s.

Orange: Innovation and energy.

  • Use orange if you want your brand to feel warm, energetic, fun, or approachable.
  • As seen in: Nickelodeon, Fanta, and Shutterfly.

Yellow: Happiness and optimism.

  • Use yellow if you want your brand to feel warm, friendly, or sunny.
  • As seen in: McDonald’s, Ikea, and Best Buy.

Green: Peaceful and healthy.

  • Use green if you want your brand to feel peaceful, healthy, natural, or affluent.
  • As seen in: Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Animal Planet.

Blue: Trusted and dependable.

  • Use blue if you want your brand to feel trustworthy, calm, reliable, or loyal.
  • As seen in: Dell/EMC, Intel, and American Express.

Purple: Creative and wise.

  • Use purple if you want your brand to feel wealthy, wise, imaginative, or regal.
  • As seen in: Hallmark, Cadbury, and Yahoo!

Pink: Feminine and romantic.

  • Use pink if you want your brand to feel feminine, fun, flirty, or strong.
  • As seen in: Barbie, Cosmopolitan, and Victoria’s Secret.

Brown: Masculine and rustic.

  • Use brown if you want your brand to feel earthy, rustic, organic, or masculine.
  • As seen in: Cracker Barrel, Godiva, and A&W.

Black: Power and sophistication.

  • Use black if you want your brand to feel sleek, sophisticated, powerful, or dangerous.
  • As seen in: Adidas, Sony, and Armani.

White: Simplicity and cleanliness.

  • Use white if you want your brand to feel pure, fresh, and clean.
  • Used as a highlight in: Under Armour and Puma.

You can also combine colors in your logo design. Think about Dunkin’ Donuts iconic pink and orange duotone logo, or Google’s cheerful 4-color design. Get creative!

4. Choose your font

Like the other elements of your logo, the font you choose should be consistent with your brand personality.

You can choose:

Serif: A simple typeface with embellishments at the ends of letters.

  • Choose this font if you want your company to look traditional, respectable, reliable, or trustworthy.
  • Try: Times New Roman or Marion.

Sans Serif: A clean typeface without any accents at the ends of letters.

  • Choose this font if you want your company to look stable, clean, established, and contemporary.
  • Try: Arial or Century Gothic.

Slab Serif: A bold typeface with block-like accents at the ends of letters.

  • Choose this font if you want your company to look bold, modern, hip, or sturdy.
  • Try: Rockwell or Museo.

Script: An elegant typeface that imitates handwritten calligraphy.

  • Choose this font if you want your company to look fancy, creative, or graceful.
  • Try: Edwardian or Pacifico.

Display: A larger typeface with a distinctive personality.

  • Choose this font if you want your company to look friendly, approachable, or fun.
  • Try: Cooper or Comic Sans.

5. Save your logo in the right file format

Once you’ve designed a logo for your business, make sure it looks great -- no matter where it’s uploaded or what material it’s printed on. Think about the different sizes of a logo on a business card, in a Facebook profile picture, or on a website. You don’t want it to look pixelated when adjusted for different dimensions.

There are two common formats to save logo files -- raster (bitmap) files and vector files.

Raster files are made of tiny pixels in a grid. They work well when you use an image at its original size, but they can get fuzzy and lose their crisp color the more you change their size. Common file formats include .jpg and .gif.

On the other hand, vector files use complex mathematical formula to preserve dimensions and clarity at any size. They’re flexible and can be printed on anything from clothing to business cards to letterhead. Common file formats include .ai and .eps.

When you first download and save your logo, make sure you have both of these file types. You’ll need them as your business grows!

Time to start promoting your business

Building a brand is no easy feat. But at the end of the logo design process, you’ll be one step closer to creating a unique identity for your business. Now it’s time to get the word out and start promoting your brand!

Need help creating a logo for your Weebly site? Try the easy-to-use Logo Maker app. Choose from thousands of design templates, and customize your logo with colors, fonts, and text that match your brand.