Logo design: a step-by-step guide

designing a logo

This is a practical step-by-step guide with hints and tips for creating a winning logo that reflects your brand, works across all media and is unique.

1. Think about branding

Branding is about creating your own, consistent identity to attract and retain customers.

Your logo should sum up your identity. Make sure you think about:

  • What message you want to convey – your unique selling point (USP)
  • Your style of image – creative or formal
  • The type of image – illustrative of your business, text only or abstract
  • What colour(s) you want to use and what colours might say about you

Examples of logos that illustrate purpose include World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and RightMove (UK based estate agents). Text only logos work well when your name is short, for example, IBM and Tesco. Abstract logos, as used by Apple and Nike, are often memorable, but don’t forget these companies spend thousands on advertising and have global reach.

Colour is often used to evoke people’s emotions, for example: red for danger and excitement; green for health and growth. However, colour interpretations are not universal. Personal experience and culture also affects people’s translation of colour to feelings.

2. Balance form against function


Form is about style, colour and user experience (the interpretation of your message).

  • Simple works best. Thicker fonts get attention.
  • The fewer the better.
  • Don’t use colour gradients (avoid images/photos).
  • Design using pantone colours (used for printing) and make sure your colours are websafe (across devices).
  • Check how it looks when printed black and white.
User experience
  • Don’t be tempted to use an image that will confuse your audience about what you do.


Function is about where and how you are going to use your logo.

Write a list of all the places where you will use your logo and how it will work in the wider context of branding. Places where you might use your logo include, but are not limited to:

  • website
  • social media sites (check their requirements)
  • email signature
  • packaging for products
  • business cards, letterhead, invoices, price lists
  • vans, cars, advertising boards, pop up displays
  • merchandising (T-shirts, pens, umbrellas)

3. Research (Is It Unique?)

Business name

Make sure no one else is using your business name: search the internet and, in the UK, check whether it’s already registered at Companies House and/or has already been trademarked. Check whether the domain name you want for your website is available and that you can register relevant profiles with any social media websites you intend using.


Make sure you don’t infringe any trademarks. For UK trademarks check out the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website. This also provides information about patents, copyright and other ways to protect your Intellectual Property.

Check out your competitors

Look at their logos and note what you like and dislike, what you think works and doesn’t work. Think about your favourite logos and what makes them stand out and memorable.

4. Set criteria

Now that you’ve done your homework, set criteria for the design of your logo. What colours do you want to use? Across what media do you need it to work? Do you want your business name or initials incorporated into the design?

5. Design (& test)

Brainstorm with a small group of people to build initial ideas for your logo. Sketch these ideas or do initial mock ups. Ask for feedback from friends, family and colleagues. Ideally ask people who are part of your target market.

Test your logo: check your proposed design has not been used before (search the internet and trademark registers) and then test your logo in print (colour and greyscale) and on the web.

Evaluate feedback and adapt. Set yourself a deadline to make sure you don’t do infinite variations and tweaks.

6. Launch

Your logo is finished, but before you let everyone use it, create a brand manual. This should be a short guide to tell users how, when and where to use your logo. It should include what your logo colours are (for web and print) and where to find the electronic images.

Now you’re ready to use your logo.

Don’t forget to consider protecting your logo design and trademark it. And, lastly, why not enter it for a design award for more great publicity.

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