Make your logo work with you – not against you. Three things I learned about logo design when I realized that I hated mine.
When I got home from the local print shop with that white cardboard box, I opened it up slowly. Neatly lined-up inside were one thousand shiny, new business cards – adorned with my newly designed neon pink and blue logo on the front.
And I sorta felt okay about them. Sorta? That’s not good.
See, I’d already gone through four previous logo designs for my business. The excitement had kinda worn off at this point.
It must have been some sort of record for a design student. I mean, I should have had the whole design thing down by that point, right?
But I knew it still didn’t feel right. It felt well-designed-ish and more professional than my previous designs. But I had no intention of changing it again.
Fast forward a couple of months to when I started a new design course centered around my personal business and brand. My teacher told the class to create 100 sketches of our logos. ONE HUNDRED.
This was when I wanted to pump the breaks.
To kindly tell my teacher, “Hold up, wait just a sec. Dontcha think ONE HUNDRED sketches is a little excessive since I just had new business cards made?”
Imagine me with hands on my hips, because this is how I pictured it would go down in my head. Then he’d reply, “Your current logo is the best logo ever in all the universe! No need to redesign.”
Well that didn’t happen, and I had only passed out a couple. 998 cards left. I was flippin’ out. To redesign my logo would mean that it would be money down the flusher, and since I was bootstrapping it, this was not ideal.
I struggled to even start the assignment because it was going to be a LOT of work, and I figured it would be a waste – because I had no intention of changing my logo again.
But not really wanting to confront my teacher with my hands on my hips, I followed through.
As I flipped through the pages of my sketchbook after drawing out 100 new butterflies and arrows, I discovered what my logo really meant to me. They weren’t just arbitrary symbols with no purpose.
Sketching is sort of like free writing when you want to know the thoughts that are already inside your head. Each stroke of my pencil – every little bit of eraser that fell off the page – helped me understand the picture more clearly. The process helped me learn that logos take time, thought, and preparation.
But most importantly? There needs to be a story.
I already had an “acceptable” logo, but it still wasn’t 100% what I envisioned. The layout felt off and the colors were wrong.
I mean neon pink? I am not a neon pink kinda girl. And I didn’t understand what my logo meant. Why did I choose these colors and symbols? What did it mean to me?
I hadn’t been intentional enough.
So I made three big changes to my logo: I changed the format, choose new colors, and I clarified the meaning behind the symbols. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t just because a butterfly is pretty and arrows are trendy.
These three things are equally important when you are thinking about your own logo. They are the main things that I consider when I create a logo for each one of my clients.
1- The Format:
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your logo needs to fit nicely on your website, as well as other marketing materials.” quote=”Your logo needs to fit nicely on your website, as well as other marketing materials, so you need more than one brand-mark.”]
When I first made my logo, I tried to make it fit everywhere, but it just looked awkward and clunky. I hadn’t thought about the different applications of my logo: on my website, my business cards, on invoices and on social media sites.
During the process of sketching out my logo in different formats, I discovered that I needed a logo that had a strong, stand-alone symbol that could be recognizable to my brand, even if the name of my business wasn’t right there along with it.
Also, I discovered that I needed my logo in at least two formats, a horizontal and a vertical format so that it would work everywhere. I suggest to all my clients that they have these two formats as well, to give them flexibility to do all that they need to do.
2- The Colors:
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your logo should be 2-3 colors tops! And those colors need to reflect the message of your brand.” quote=”Your logo should be 2-3 colors tops! And those colors need to reflect the message of your brand.”]
At the beginning, I honestly decided on my colors because I thought they’d make me look rad.
I didn’t particularly like them, they didn’t fit my personality, and there wasn’t any thought behind why I chose them except the coolness factor.
When I recreated my logo during my course, I thought about the psychology of color and the connotations that people have when they see certain colors.
And then I changed my colors to fit my brand. I chose the purple because a lot of people think of it as a creative or spiritual color. It also appeals to women, who are my target audience. The dark teal-ish color makes people think of creativity, but also gives a sense of security and trust. Both colors fit how I wanted to serve people, so they made sense.
And I liked them!
3- The Symbols & What They Mean:
[clickToTweet tweet=”The symbols you choose for your logo should have meaning and convey something to your audience.” quote=”The symbols you choose for your logo should have meaning and convey something to your audience.”]
I really wasn’t sure why I originally chose to use a butterfly and an arrow. My original logo had a butterfly, but I didn’t incorporate the arrow into the design until later on. When I added the arrow, I had it going through the butterfly, which looked a little sad.
Not exactly the message I wanted to send.
As I sketched, I thought about my love of photographing butterflies with my camera, and how they are so dang hard to capture. They can be fleeting – like our creative ideas. If we fail to write it down or sketch it out (like my teacher had “forced” us to do), the idea can be lost to us.
The arrows were my way of pinning the ideas down, but I didn’t like the way that my logo had the butterfly pinned. It was more like death than life. So I added another arrow and made them into a circle around the butterfly.
That focused on creativity as a continual process…like sketching 100 logo ideas.
My logo finally had meaning, and purpose, and structure – and it finally made sense to me.
Your logo should, too.
And I know the process can be overwhelming at first, but it’s worth it to have a logo that I’m proud of now. It took me some time and some guidance to find the personality I wanted to share and to see how I could use the format, colors and symbolism to really communicate that well.
That’s why I’m creating a 7 day challenge to help you discover your own brand personality.
By starting at the beginning and having fun with the process, you can figure out the meaning and purpose of what you’re doing, which will help you later when you’re either creating the logo yourself or if you hire a pro to design it for you.
And you can create a real vision for your brand too…but without having a temper tantrum in your head about it like I did.
Pop your name and email below to join the waiting list to be notified ASAP when the challenge is open! I’m excited; it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Francine from Callaloo Soup says
Great tips Amanda. I’ve changed my log about once a year for the last few years, but I am pretty happy with my current design and I think it will stick, At least until I decide to get one done professionally.
I don’t think I’d be able to come up with 100 sketches! Wow!
That’s what I went through the first few years of business; I changed my logo so many times. But I came to that place where I felt like it was okay enough, then we had to do that assignment. 100 seemed so extreme, right?! But it was worth it in the end.
Thanks for stopping by, Francine! :)
Vicki Stranger says
Great information! Thank you for sharing it. I am like many…not thinking about it for long, and just getting the pre-stamped design for business cards. I will have to think more intentionally, and see what I come up with.