Every business needs a logo, but not all of them know how to design one. To cut costs or speed things along, many businesses decide to simply create their own logo rather than hire a professional. While there’s a lot of advantages to designing your own logo, all of them require you to actually know how to create your own logo.
In this quick guide, we outline the six steps needed to create your own logo. We’ll explain the process one step at a time, identify your best options for design software (free or paid) and link to more detailed guides so you can learn the individual aspects like typography and color theory at your own pace. In the end, you’ll have a homemade logo that not only looks great but also is personalized to your brand.
This particular guide is specifically for non-designers who want to create a logo themselves; if you want full, detailed instructions on making logos in general, read our popular how to design a logo guide.
Why create your own logo?
There are many different methods for how to create a logo, and doing it yourself without prior design experience isn’t going to produce the best results. However, the choice isn’t always up to you: external circumstances like time or money constraints often make creating your own logo the most practical option.
While working with entry-level freelancers can be affordable sometimes, there are times when you can’t afford any extra help. In these cases, it makes perfect sense to create your own logo, even if you have to sacrifice a little quality.
It’s also worth mentioning that logos don’t last forever, so even if you make mistakes with your first logo, you can always update it later with a professional designer. For those on a shoe-string budget, you can create your own logo now as a placeholder and then later hire a professional to upgrade it.
Even if you are working with a professional designer, though, designing an amateur logo can help you express your creative ideas better than talking to the designer. You can hand them a basic logo or sketch and have them refine it into professional quality.
All-in-all, paying for a professionally designed logo is not necessary, at least at first, even if it is recommended. The DIY route may be an uphill battle at times with figuring out logo basics, software learning curves and getting overwhelmed by all the potential design choices. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s still feasible to build your own logo from scratch, and affordably too.
How to create your own logo in 6 steps
1. Understand your own brand
The heart of every logo is brand personality. What kind of brand you are (or want to be) determines each and every logo design decision you make, so the first step is identifying the brand traits you want.
Your brand should not simply reflect your own personal preferences. You should build your brand based on the specifics of your business: your industry, market openings, target consumers, business model, value proposition and any other relevant factors like reputation. As you’ll see in the next step, design choices like colors and shapes can advance these goals, but only if you know what direction to go in.
If you’re new to branding, you can start by learning how to build your brand from scratch. This guide explains the fundamentals of branding so you understand why branding choices matter and know precisely what choices you need to make.
If you already have an idea of what kind of brand you want, you can refine it further by hammering out the details. Our logo questionnaire presents questions to ask yourself about your brand so that the answers can help you design your logo later.
One exercise that can help any company is to list 30 adjectives that describe their ideal brand. Traits like “friendly,” “affordable,” “approachable,” or “capable” can be directly translated into your logo so that consumers get the right impression of you, right from the start.
Once you solidify your brand personality, you can then figure out how to express those traits visually when you create your own logo.
2. Choose the right logo parts for your brand
The three main elements of every logo are colors, shapes and typography. While that may seem simple enough, each of those areas runs deep with history and experience that takes a lifetime to master—which is why skilled designers aren’t cheap.
Your logo color should follow along with color theory, which posits how colors mix, match, or contrast, as well as what colors elicit an emotional response. In other words, different colors relate to different feelings, such as red being associated with passion or urgency, or blue being associated with trust and comfort.
Since you’ve already prioritized your branding traits in the previous state, choosing your logo colors is just a simple matter of matching your top traits with their corresponding logo color meanings, listed in the link. Because you may want more than one color, make sure you understand color theory and how to mix and match colors. You can also check out the popular logo color combinations for some inspiration.
Similarly, different logo shapes each have their own emotional connotations. This applies to basic shapes like circles or squares, which are worth learning about if you want to frame your logo.
On an advanced level, logo shape also relates to things like icons, emblems, or mascots—for example, sports logos often use predatory animals as mascots to seem more aggressive, whereas law firms might use symbols like a scale.
Last, font style and psychology are crucial for wordmark and lettermark logos, or logos that are only a word or letters respectively. In these designs, there are no additional visuals besides the letters, so the font has to be extra visual to compensate. Just like colors and shapes, different types of fonts each elicit different moods, so choose one that matches your branding.
Before you make concrete decisions for all of these areas, review the psychology of logo design. Designing a good logo is more than just picking the right colors and shapes, it’s about putting all the pieces together in a way that makes sense. To do that, it helps to learn a little about graphic design.
3. Understand the basics of design
If you’re not working with a professional designer, it’s best to teach yourself the basics of logo design. You need to know what makes a good logo so you design yours appropriately.
For starters, you want to choose which of the 7 types of logos to use: abstract, mascot, combination, emblem, lettermark, pictorial and wordmark. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so review them all before making a final decision.
It’s also helpful to understand all the separate logo characteristics and how they interact with each other. Color, shape and typography are the main ones, but you also need to consider sizes, tone and signals for your particular business (for example, an exterminator might want to include insects in their logo so people know what their company does).
On top of that, there are a few other aspects vital to the anatomy of a logo. Features like slogans, establishment dates or frames can all add that special something to a logo, even though they may be optional.
Likewise, a logo’s negative space, or the empty space around and between the visual elements, also makes a large impact. For one thing, adding negative space around an element makes it more noticeable, a handy technique if you want to draw attention to a certain part more than others. You can use negative space to create subtle hidden meanings, such as the secret arrow between the E and the X in the FedEx logo.
Finally, review some of the common logo design mistakes mentioned in our bad logo design guide so you know what to avoid. These mistakes are typical for first-time logo designers and business professionals without design experience, so preparing for them gives you a headstart.
4. See if any current logo trends appeal to you
Another key aspect of logo design is staying current with design trends. Because aesthetic tastes change over time, it’s important to stay current with design trends to appear modern, or at least avoid looking outdated.
Consider the original 1964 logo for Doritos, using the aesthetic styles of its time. There’s a reason logos are updated every few years—as new styles and trends emerge, old styles make the logo seem dated, and turn away consumers who prefer something more modern.
Logo trends revolve around what kind of visuals are popular at a given time. Certain colors come in and out of fashion, as do certain styles, such as hand-drawn illustrations or futuristic grids. The thing about trends, however, is that they don’t always apply to every brand. Be discerning about which trends to incorporate in your logo and which ones to ignore.
Before you get started designing your own logo, take a look at the current logo design trends to see if you want to use them for your logo. Moreover, be sure to check in on logo design trends every few years and complete a logo redesign when necessary. If none of the trends seem appealing, it’s fine to take a classic, timeless logo design style for your brand.
5. Find the right design software
Aside from creative decisions, you also need to pick the right design software to use. Each software is attuned to different people with different needs, not to mention different skill levels. There’s no “one best software,” and the best software for you depends on your style.
First, consider usability, or how easy or convenient it is to work with. Professional-tier software tends to have huge learning curves that take years to master, whereas smaller online logo makers are self-explanatory, though they lack the rich features of higher-end software. The usability for you depends on how much time you’re willing to invest to learn it, and what you get out of it.
Second, consider the cost. Again, those professional-tier software can get incredibly expensive, as they’re designed for professional photographers and graphic artists. Since you’re choosing the DIY route anyway, you’re probably interested in saving money, so using a free or affordable logo maker is likely better.
Third, you want to make sure your design software has the capabilities to create the logo you want. The reason this step comes near the end is that you already have an idea of what you need: by now you should know what your logo will look like, so you can make sure to choose a design tool that can satisfy all those requirements.
Last, double-check the secondary options such as ownership rights and deliverables. If you’re using low-end software like a free logo maker, there may be some strings attached—for example, you may need to pay to license certain images. Likewise, be sure the deliverable format matches what you need, such as .png, .jpg or .tiff.
If you’re just starting out with logo design, you probably don’t need professional-quality software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Feel free to review our list of the best logo makers, specifically catered to include affordable and easy-to-use software.
6. Spend time to actually make it
Now that the preparations are complete, it’s time to actually create your own logo. This part of the process could take anywhere from weeks to just a couple of minutes, depending on what you’re going for.
Be sure to set aside some time to learn the controls of whatever software you’re using. It pays to play around a little beforehand to familiarize yourself with all the button locations and potentially discover features you were unaware of before. Thankfully, many logo makers are easy to use and it can be fun to play around with the colors, font and icons for your logo.
When you first start to create your own logo, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look how hoped in your head. Graphic design is a skill that benefits from practice, so your first try likely won’t be the best. Just keep at it and fix the problematic parts one by one until you get the hang of it.
Don’t be afraid to create different versions of the same logo, either. It can help to show both versions to third parties to get their opinion, like a makeshift focus group or user testing. In general, outside opinions can reveal areas for improvement that you hadn’t noticed before—when designing, we all often miss the forest for the trees.
Even when your logo is finished, it’s never really finished. From here, you can show it to a professional designer for an upgrade, or keep it in circulation for a few years until you’re more skilled at logo design.
Anyone can design a logo
Of course, hiring a professional designer is ideal, but it’s not always practical. Saving money, saving time, or simply taking control of your own personal projects are all valid reasons to create your own logo. These days there are many tools out there to help you create your own logo. Logo makers are one of the easiest ways to get started.
When creating a logo yourself, be prepared. Logo design can get very complicated, especially if you’re trying to bring to life ambitious or experimental ideas. Take a look at the links posted in this article to learn all about the different facets of logo design; each article deals with an aspect of logo design in great detail, so the more you read the easier it will be to create your own logo.