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The Process of Designing a Killer Logo

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Read Time: 6 min
This post is part of a series called How to Create a Logo.
The Logo Design Process for Ultimate Potential
20 Weird Logos That Work (And Why They Do)
This post is part of a series called Logo and Identity Design.
The Logo Design Process for Ultimate Potential
20 Weird Logos That Work (And Why They Do)

Designing a killer logo has everything to do with concept and little to do with technical prowess or how well you can use a design program. Also, when it comes down to it vector is the most versatile and useful format for logo design. This article will cover the creative process behind creating a strong conceptual logo and how to use Adobe Illustrator to your advantage when creating a logo.

Types of Logos

There are several types of logos that each have their own unique purpose. While there are many permutations, the two most basic categories are type treatments and type mixed with image treatments.

Type Treatments

Type treatment logos are entirely composed of text. These logos can be very effective and distinguished if the concept behind the logo is strong enough. In addition, they generally incorporate fewer colors and effects. They are easier and less expensive to use throughout an advertising campaign or suite of corporate identity materials. Type treatment logos work well for company or business names that are not trite in their respective industries. Here are a couple examples of type treatment logos.

Left Designed By: Stylo Design, Right Designed By: Herb Lubalin

Type Mixed with Image Treatments

Type mixed with image treatment logos use an icon or graphic together with text. These types of logos sometimes start off incorporating type and transition to image treatments alone. When logos transition to image treatments it usually implies that the company is established and has a strong market presence. That is not to say that these types of logos can't be effectively implemented for individuals or companies who do not yet have a long history behind them.

In general, these types of logos help distinguish a company or business where the company name may be generic sounding or similar to another company within their industry. Type and image treatment logos also add a level of creativity and eye-candy to a logo. A couple examples are below.

Left Designed For: Thomson Reuters, Right Designed For: Aflac,

The Basis of a Killer Logo - Pencil and Paper

Lets get this out of the way first: computer can't think for you! When you start a logo design and skip the concept creation part of the process problems occur. If you go directly to the computer, chances are, the logo is not the best possible creative solution. In order to come up with a killer logo, you first need to use a pencil and paper to generate ideas.

Sketching allows you to quickly explore an idea and gives you the liberty of rapidly transitioning to a new direction as quickly as your mind can think. When you start off the design process at a computer the tendency to dwell on one design or a design that is not working is elevated.

It is helpful to have several good concepts before you begin using the computer to execute them. Every sketched concept won't be great, but when you get to a point in the creative process where you are using Adobe Illustrator to create the logo you'll have plenty of other concepts to explore. For more information review this comprehensive article on sketching within the design process.

The logo I'm creating is for a yoga studio. The concept that I experimented with was mainly that of stretching and heat. Don't be afraid to just draw whatever comes to mind. Usually your first few ideas won't be great, but that's why you keep pushing yourself to think of something creative. You're not making a masterpiece so just let the ideas flow and don't worry about how good the sketch looks at this point. As long as you get your ideas down on paper you'll be able to expand upon them when you get to the computer.

Review these sketches that were in preparation of the final completed logo.

How to Effectively Explore Ideas - Adobe Illustrator Has its Place

Adobe Illustrator is most effectively used after you have a strong concept (or multiple concepts) sketched out. If you are creating a logo with detailed images mixed with type, then you may want to make some finalized sketches before going to Illustrator as well. This would be true for detailed illustrative text as well. Sometimes, you'll want to refine your sketch before jumping into Illustrator.

Once you're at the Illustrator phase it's easy to quickly explore type options, size, and multiple iterations of a concept. This is exactly how Illustrator should be used when it comes to creating a logo. Also note that Photoshop should rarely be used to design a logo. Photoshop is raster-based, which means that it uses pixels to create the image, while Illustrator uses mathematical points so that artwork can be adjusted without quality loss.

Bringing it All Together - Adding color and typography

Adding color and perfecting typography are the last steps in the creation of a meaningful and concept-driven logo.

When choosing a typeface to accompany your logo you can narrow your options down to the most relevant choices by knowing what the overall typeface should evoke. If your logo is geared towards a modeling agency, for example, you'll likely go with a script, serif, or thin font. On the other hand, if your logo is for a monster truck rally you'll be looking for typefaces that are bulky and strong, like a bold sans serif font.

Below are examples of classic typefaces and the categories that they fall into.

Final Logo Design

Since our logo is for a yoga studio we've used a medium weight font that is neither extremely bulky nor excessively thin. The icon and type complement each other; one of the reasons being they both have tapered edges. The orange represents heat and stretching. The type is lowercase to signify the candid or informal nature of the business.

Notice how the final logo is unmistakably derived from the sketching process. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a strong idea before you jump on the computer. When all is said and done you'll save more time this way. Also, notice how a black and white version is included as well, as this may be needed on collateral marketing material, and should be included in the final files sent to your clients.

Logo Resources

Logopond has many different logos that everyday designers upload where they can get critiques on their work or simply post a logo for others to see. Logopond will give you inspiration and get your creative juices flowing when you're experiencing designers-block.

Faveup is similar to logopond. In addition to seeing a variety of logos you can see examples of business cards and websites.

Brandsoftheworld allows you to download vector logos for thousands of companies. This site comes in handy when you're working on a project for a well known client and you need a vector logo in a pinch. Keep in mind you do need permission to use these commercially though.

Flont by Veer is great for the serious designer who needs to find the perfect typeface. Flont allows you to preview any font using the letters of your choice.

Identityworks has reviews on logo designs so you can see the before and after of various designs. Plus articles and everything else related to corporate identity.


The next time you need to create a killer logo you'll have a solid understanding of how you should go about the creative process to ensure you're producing the best logo possible.

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