Create “wow” effect logos
Logo Design: a step-by-step guide and resources for innovators to create “wow” effect logos.
A logo is the first thing a customer sees when discovering a new product, service, or website. You certainly want your logo to convey critical concepts and be memorable, and it’s all the more true for an innovation project.
There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for. — Milton Glaser
I’m not an expert in brand design, and there is undoubtedly a lot more to learn on The Future and GDS YouTube channels, where experts spend hours analyzing logos. But I’ve created several logos for products, and I’ve identified tools and resources to build them efficiently.
In this article, I share with you my step-by-step process for creating a logo:
- Step #1: Write a design brief
- Step #2: Create a mood board
- Step #3: Conduct an ideation session
- Step #4: Build the logo
- Step #5: Check best practices
- Step #6: Include your logo in a brand guide
Whether you work with a designer or on your own, I think these concepts and tools may help you build an impactful logo for your innovation project.
Step #1: Write a Design Brief
We tend to think of a logo as something that should look pretty. However, a logo has an actual function. Here is a more general definition of graphic design:
Graphic design is the organization and presentation of information visually developed through a creative process for a particular function. — Gareth David
Whether you’re working with a designer or on your own, clarifying your expectations and goals is a critical step.
A design brief enables you to settle and communicate your ideas. It’s a document that includes all the relevant information to understand the context, the requirements, and the needs of the project:
- Who are the end customers? What pain points does your product or service solve for them?
- How do you want your product or service to sound to the world? What’s the look & feel?
- What goals do you want to achieve with the logo?
This video from Gareth David is the best I’ve found on structuring a design brief:
The good news is that Gareth David provides free templates and examples to write a design brief. I highly recommend them!
You defined your first ideas in the design brief. You are now ready to begin the creative work.
Step #2: Create a Mood Board
A mood board is an arrangement filled with different things (photos, textures, colors, preexisting designs, etc.) that evoke the brand style. It helps to determine the look & feel of the brand and thus generate multiple ideas for the logo while ensuring that these ideas fit neatly into the brand’s world.
In this video, Melina Sweet shows three techniques to create mood boards:
You can get visual assets from Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance, Unsplash, Designspiration, or Google Image. There are even more resources to find inspiration in my article on graphic design. If you have more budget, you can also get the Logo Modernism book.
At this stage, you have a mood board that consolidates the visual aspect you want to convey through your logo. The next step is to explore all the possibilities that meet this style.
Step #3: Conduct an Ideation Session
Designing a logo all by yourself in your corner is sad. Appeal to the collective intelligence! Here are the steps to conduct a 1-hour ideation session:
- Assemble 2 to 7 motivated participants.
- Briefly present the design brief and share good practices for creating a logo (cf. step #5 for a checklist).
- Give them time to view the mood board while writing rough ideas.
- Run a Crazy 8’s: each participant sketches eight logo ideas in 8 min, 1 min for each idea.
- Let each participant present in 3 min the ideas they have generated.
- Hold a round of voting. The goal is to weed out logos that don’t match the design brief or mood board.
This video from AJ&Smart shows how a Crazy 8’s workshop works:
And that’s it. At the end of the session, you should have around 20 logo ideas ready to be designed.
Step #4: Build the Logo
Now it’s time to design the logo ideas. If you’re working with a designer, you can skip this step and go to the next one. Otherwise, if you are a Do-It-Yourself innovator, this part is for you.
Logo Maker Tools
There are plenty of tools that enable you to generate an infinity of logos from criteria that you fill in: Wix Logo Maker, Tailor Brands, Brand Builder, Logopony, Namecheap Logo Maker, Canva Logo Maker, ShapeFactory Logo Maker, Hatchful Logo Maker by Shopify, etc.
You can quickly be confused by the endless choices available. In addition, these tools often combine an icon with a text while selecting fonts and colors, which I prefer to do myself on Figma to have more freedom.
Figma is a vector graphics editor and prototyping tool. Its free version is sufficient for creating a logo. You can get it here.
There are two ways to create your logo on Figma, one simple and the other more advanced.
The simple way is to follow these three steps:
- Find icons similar to the sketches made in step # 3, download them in .svg format, and import them into a Figma design file. I usually look for icons on Flaticon, but you can find icons on these sites: Feather, Heroicons, Iconfinder, Iconic, Noun Project, Shape, Streamline.
- Select the fonts that best match your mood board. Figma contains most of the regular fonts. You can use Google Font to explore fonts more easily. On the Figma design file, write your product name next to the icon.
- Select colors that best march your mood board. I often use ColorSpace to generate a variety of colors from one color. You can also find color palettes on these tools: Abode Color, Color Palettes, Coolors, uiGradients. Use your selected palette to add colors to your logo.
And that’s it. Your logos are ready to be presented to end-users.
The second way to design a logo on Figma is more advanced but offers more creativity. It consists in drawing the logo directly and playing with the shapes without constraint. In this video, Hyginus Ukeh explains step by step how he draws a logo on Figma:
You brought your logo ideas to life on Figma (or a logo maker tool). The next step is to check which ones comply with good practices.
Step #5: Check Best Practices
The principal role of a logo is to identify, and simplicity is its means… Its effectiveness depends on distinctiveness, visibility, adaptability, memorability, universality, and timelessness. — Paul Rand
There are lots of tips everywhere for creating a great logo. This video from Pablo Stanley contains the most important ones:
- Don’t overcomplicate things. Use clear shapes that you can quickly reproduce and that work for any size. Keep responsive in mind.
- Don’t obsess about being original. Use familiar and recognizable elements that people would quickly notice.
- Don’t obsess about colors. Try to make a logo that works in black and white as it has to work in a color-agnostic way.
- Don’t follow trends. Use basic design principles and create something legible, simple, and easy to replicate.
To be sure of your design, you can also share your logo ideas in a form and collect feedback. Ask questions to make sure that you are meeting the objectives set in the design brief.
So now you have a logo ready to be used! Before finishing, make sure you insert it into an ecosystem larger than the header of your website.
Step #6: Include your Logo in a Brand Guide
A logo is a visual piece in a more extensive brand identity system. A brand guide is a rule book that explains how your product or service presents itself to the world through the logo, fonts, colors, images, etc. It helps you ensure the consistency of appearance and tone of voice.
This video from Martin Perhiniak explains how to create a guide style:
Find on this website examples of brand guides to use as references.
You don’t have to describe all the sections of the guide. For a first version, you can focus on the essentials from the design brief with a “how not to mess up the logo” section, then iterate according to specific needs.
Your logo now has everything you need to make your innovation shine.
Many thanks to Gareth David, Melina Sweet, AJ&Smart, Hyginus Ukeh, Pablo Stanley, and Martin Perhiniak for their enlightening videos!