Establishing a Brand: Creating a Logo
Once you've researched your audience and competition and developed a brand voice, it's time to create the logo. Making a unique, eye-grabbing, and symbolic logo is arguably one of the most challenging tasks when establishing a brand. As in any screen printing process, you can go about creating a logo in many different ways. Ryonet's Creative Director Ryan Moore, a former screen printer, shared insights to his creative process of making a logo from scratch.
Rogue Lab's logo is clean yet rugged. Photo by Rogue Lab.
Gotta get those creative juices flowing! First, when you researched the competition, did you take notes on their logos? If not, go back and do that. You don't want to make a logo that looks similar to your competition (it'll cause brand confusion). Plus, it may spark some ideas of what you'd like to incorporate in your logo.
Next, create a word map. You can use the adjectives that describe your brand's voice to begin. List more words associated with the brand to get the gears turning. Once you have a long list of descriptive words, start narrowing it down to the top five to ten words.
When you have the top descriptive words for the brand, brainstorm visual elements that come to mind when you look at the word. For example, when Ryan was working on the logo for FN-INK™, he focused on the phrase, "empowering printers." Empowering printers is very similar to Ryonet's tagline, "powering the print." Power equals electricity. Electricity equates to a lightning bolt.
Lastly, create a mood board. Snag images of other logos that inspire you, color pallets you like, illustrations that are cool, etc. While collecting images, you may notice a theme emerge, which will help guide you when it's time to craft the logo.
Symmetree's logo is simple yet clever for subtly incorporating the tree in the word.
CREATING THE LOGO
Now that you have some ideas, it's time to bring them to life. Before we look at the different aspects of a design, Ryan has an important rule to keep in mind.
Simpler is better (usually).
A simple design communicates your brand's message quicker, which is ideal in an environment with thousands and thousands of brands at people's fingertips. Producing a simple logo will not apply to every brand. You'll have to decide what best represents your brand in the end.
With that said, let's make a logo.
It's probably safe to say that your logo will incorporate your brand's name in it. Coca-Cola, Google, Disney, etc. use their names as their logo. Incorporating the name in the logo enhances the communication of what your business does to customers.
The typeface matters. The font can deeply exhibit the vibe of your brand. Take Golden Press Studio's typeface for example, it's scripted, almost like someone painted it. The font gives off an artistic, creative vibe, which represents them well since they are a branding agency.
Golden Press Studio's logo.
If you're a graphic design wiz, you could create your own typeface. If you're like the majority of us, finding a distinctive font will be your best bet. Ryan suggests checking out Adobe Fonts or Google Fonts. You could go to a free font website like DaFont.com, but due to the licensing restrictions, you cannot sell any garments that have that font printed on them. With Adobe or Google, the licensing isn't as complex. Plus, if you're using Adobe software programs already, the fonts will integrate easily into the programs (and the licensing is already figured out due to the software subscription).
While you're perusing fonts, keep in mind where the logo might live like a website. One in three small businesses say their website is their most successful marketing tool, according to PR Newswire. You'll need to find a font that's web-friendly. Where else will the logo live? Will you be printing business cards? Using it on social? Decorating shirts with it? Keep all this in mind when you're looking at fonts.
Ryan suggests to pick up to 10 fonts you like the most. Whittle it down to five, then three. With the three fonts, play around with them and you'll most likely decide which one is the winner.
Salt & Pine Co. incorporates several colors in her logo. Photo by Salt & Pine Co.
Remember the "keep it simple" rule? That rule applies to the color scheme as well. Ryan suggests to incorporate no more than three colors with the logo (especially if you plan to print the logo on garments; the more colors, the more screens that'll need to be made). Again, that rule does not apply to everyone. Take Google, they have more than three colors in their logo. Whatever best represents your brand, go that route.
When selecting colors, don't forget that colors have meaning. Colors produce an evocative response from the viewer. Red usually evokes passion or anger; blue is calming and cool; yellow conveys cheerfulness and friendliness; purple is mysterious; and the list goes on. Thinking about the voice of your brand and your audience will help dictate which colors should be used in the logo.
Many brands go the simple yet clean black and white look. It works. The colors do not distract from the messaging. Sometimes adding a color on top of it ties it all together. FN-INK™'s logo is black and white with yellow in the lightning bolt. The yellow enhances the punchiness of the brand, highlighting its personality. You know your brand the best. Play around with the colors to discover what looks great and best represents your business.
Eighty-Seven Print Co. uses elements from the Screen Printers Branding Starter Pack in their logo.
The logo could solely be the typeface, or you could include an illustration. Salt & Pine Co.'s logo is a combination of the brand's name and an illustration of trees and the ocean. Fusing the name and the visual aspects in the logo represents her brand well because she prints garments that exhibit characteristics of Maine (like the ocean and pine trees).
The illustration does not have to be as large as Salt & Pine Co.'s logo. It could be something small like the lightning bolt in FN-INK™ or the squeegee on the "t" in Stark Screen Printing. Again, it all comes down to what best represents your brand. Start sketching. Pull from the words you wrote out before to come up with more elements. If you're no artist, you could always download vector packs like the Screen Printers Branding Starter Pack and build in those original designs into your logo.
Pro Tip: Make the logo a vector! It'll save you in the long run whenever the day comes you have to enlarge or shrink the design. Skip Photoshop. Pull it up in Illustrator. You'll thank Ryan later.
Stark's design is simple, yet unique with the touch of the squeegee. Photo by Stark Screen Printing.
And that is one straightforward, uncomplicated way to approach designing a logo. With almost any topic, you could dive much deeper into the ins and outs of creating a logo. Hopefully this guide provides a good jumping-off point for you. In the next and last blog on branding, we'll go over other visuals like photography, videography, and web design.