How to Design A Logo You Love Even If You’re Not a Designer

19 min read

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How to design a logo
How important is a logo?

Honestly, it depends.

For us bloggers, it’s not the most important thing; at least, not in the beginning. But then again, just because something isn’t top priority doesn’t mean we do not care about them. I’m certain many of you out there want a nice-looking logo for your blog or small business; I know I do… did. I have a nice logo now 🙂 But if you’re not a graphic designer, creating a logo all by yourself is going to be difficult. It was for me. It took me several attempts to get to the logo I have now.

So, if you’re a lover of logos and have an appreciation for good design, then allow me to help you create something beautiful even if you’re technically not a designer.

In this blog post, I’ll start by pointing out why you may want a logo for your blog or small business, how to figure out a logo style, and a couple of different ways you can go about designing your own logo, even if you have zero design skills. I hope to enrich your understanding of what makes for a good logo, and hopefully, give you a few tips and tools to get the logo you want.

Content

Do you need a logo?

Let’s tackle this first — should you have a logo in the first place? Now, there are many reasons for a business to have a logo and some good reasons for not prioritizing it.

The case for having a logo

Companies with funding come out strong with a logo from day-one. Do you remember Instagram ever not having a logo? Or Facebook? Or Apple? Google? Sure, these companies have gone through various revisions — most companies do — but they never had a day without a logo since the first day they appeared in front of the public. Logos are powerful, after all. Logos and branding can help a company stand out. Logos create recognition. And recognition fuels businesses like none other.

I mean, imagine a situation where you’re presented with three cell phones and they have no branding on them whatsoever. Assume they all look and cost similar. Which phone will you buy then? You’ll have to pick up each phone one at a time, read every single line in a manual or spec list to figure out what you’re getting, turn on the phone and play for hours to figure out which one’s better than the other…

Goodness!

But then, assume you have three phones in front of you, but this time, the logos of the manufacturing companies are on the phones. One of them is an iPhone with Apple’s logo on it. Another is a Pixel with Google’s logo on it. The third one is a Motorola Edge. I bet every single one of you reading this already knows which phone you’re gonna get.

That’s the power of a logo.

The case for not having a logo

For companies like Apple or Google or Motorola, not having a logo isn’t an option. But these are giants in their respective industries. What about small businesses? Freelancers? Bloggers?

The truth is that most bloggers and freelancers do not need a logo from the get-go. Readers do not recognize bloggers by their logos, at least not in the beginning; they recognize bloggers by their name and content. The same goes for freelancers. Essentially, a logo is part of branding, and branding for bloggers and freelancers does not quite work the same way it does for big companies.

If you want a short, straightforward answer to the question — “logo or no logo”, then here it is:

If you’re a company with a product, you should have a logo.

If you do not have a product, you can still have a logo as part of your branding and it’d be nice, but it doesn’t have to be one of your top priorities.

Think about a brand new blogger with no money and no design skills. Should they wait and not start their blog because they don’t have a logo? Or, what if someone wants to work as a freelance web developer, or copywriter, or graphic designer, or photographer? Do they need a logo to start their business? Nope! I used to freelance as a web developer and I can honestly say that I never lost a client for my lack of a logo.

I have seen new bloggers get all uppity about designing the perfect logo and not be able to start a blog because of that. Like, are you kidding me?

Here’s the thing. If you really want a logo and you have money to dish out, then sure, go hire someone to design a logo. Or, if you’re a graphic designer yourself, then please be my guest! Go wild!

But if you’re not a designer nor someone with a lot of money, then please, just start a blog. Use your blog name for the “logo” and that will suffice. You don’t need much else when you’re just starting out as a blogger (or a freelancer.)

When you just can’t move on without a logo

Alright, fine. I get it. You really love logos. I mean, sure, who doesn’t? And who am I to deter you from getting one when I, an engineer with no logo design background whatsoever, couldn’t start my blog without a logo myself?

Rationality doesn’t always win the obsessed mind. Nobody knows that better than I.

So, let me help, yeah?

That’s why I’m writing this blog post in the first place. So, what do you do when you’re broke, and you’re not a graphic designer? Well, you go ahead and design your logo anyway. And now, with my help, hopefully, your attempt will be more of a success than the opposite.

Let’s start, shall we?

Wait! Too lazy to read the rest of this post? No worries; just download the FREE branding kit below that has everything you need to create your brand guide, including a damn logo! Yup!

Understanding the role of a logo

While a blogger or a freelancer doesn’t need a logo from the very beginning of their business launch, I want to point out that there’s a difference between not having a logo on day-one and not having a logo, period. Your goal should never be to not have a logo but to get to it as soon as you can while not allowing the absence of a logo to restrict you from starting and running your business.

Logos are for recognition

I think by now some people have started to recognize my business with my logo. People have come to expect things to look and feel a certain way. And that recognition is powerful. At the end of the day, a logo is really all about that recognition. And that’s why it is so important to get it right. As I demonstrated in the example earlier about cell phones, your decision for buying a certain phone came down to recognizing the brand with its logo. If you plan to grow your business, whether it is a blog or a freelance business, people will eventually come to know you from your logo too.

And at the end of the day,  recognition is really what logos are for. So, make sure you have a logo you want to be recognized by. 

Your content or products or services give meaning and value to your logo

Please understand that a logo doesn’t give meaning or value to your business. It’s the other way around. Your work gives meaning to your logo.

For example, I love Motorola phones because they make amazing batteries. You can often go as many as three days with just one charge. That’s crazy in this day and age when we’re running so many different apps simultaneously. I used to have a $99 phone from Motorola and until the day I dropped it on a concrete floor and shattered the little thing, it ran as smooth as a cucumber! I’ve had it for over two years by that time and had it not been for my clumsiness, I probably could have gone another couple of years easily.

I’m partial to Motorola phones not because of their fancy logo, but because my experience with their phones has taught me that they’re a trustworthy company when it comes to performance and battery life. (And in case you’re wondering, Motorola didn’t pay me to write that.)

The best way to get a logo for your blog or small business

I know this blog post is supposed to be about teaching you how to design a logo yourself, and I’ll get to it, I promise! But before I do, I have to mention that if you’re not a designer yourself, the best way to get a logo for your business is by hiring a professional graphic designer. Here are some ways to go about it:

  • Unless you’re familiar with the designer and their work, stay away from hiring cheap services for your logo design. Always ask to see a portfolio. NEVER hire a logo designer without a portfolio.
  • A good way to go about hiring affordable graphic designers is by searching locally. A simple Google search for “logo design + city name” should help you make a list of designers you can approach. Go over their portfolios and see whose style and aesthetics match your brand and vision for your business’s future. This is a good way to not only find a designer but also support a local artist.
  • If you cannot find a local designer you like (which I doubt, but well, crazy things do happen!), feel free to search for one on 99designs. I’ve also found great designers on Instagram. The key is to always look at their portfolio first, and then go from there.
  • Ask the right questions before you hire them.
    • Do they offer revisions, and if so, how many? An established designer may not offer many revisions, and that’s fine. If you love their portfolio and they’ve been around for a while, ideally, you should be able to trust them.
    • How many variations do they include? At the very least, a logo designer should give you a black (dark) logo to be used on a white or light-colored background, and a white (light) logo to be used on a black or dark-colored background. The designer should also include the main logo as well as a symbol or monogram version for use on merches, as website icons, etc.
    • Which file types will they deliver? They should always give you the following formats: 1) SVG 2) EPS 3) PNG 4) JPG 5) PDF (and possibly .ai if your designer is using Adobe Illustrator to create your logo.)

Aside from the above, always make sure you’re all on the same page in terms of:

  • timeline
  • pricing
  • design ownership

Alright, now that all that’s out of the way, let’s look at how to actually design a logo if you’re going the DIY route.

The different types of logos

Typically, businesses tend to have at least two different types of logos – a logotype (also knows as a wordmark logo), and a symbol or monogram logo. The logotype is where you can read the name of the business — the entire business name should be spelled out in this type of logo. A symbol or monogram is used on products, on favicons, on social media profiles, etc.

For reference check out my logos — I have a logotype or a wordmark logo and a monogram that I use as an icon and on social profiles.

The Side Blogger - Logo variations

Now, let’s look at the different types of logos to better understand them.

1. Wordmark logos (logotypes)

Wordmark logos are spelled out logos and are often used as the main logo. The components of a wordmark logo that you need to be aware of are:

  • Font. Since the entire name of the business is spelled out, it is important that the font be legible and representative of the voice and mood of the business, be it a blog, a freelance business, or something else.
  • Color. Typically you should be choosing colors that are either part of your brand color palette or complimentary of the brand colors.
  • Height and width. For a wordmark logo, you can manipulate the width of the logo by adjusting the letter-spacing or kerning of the adjacent letters. Height would be determined by the font size. Choose values that add to the legibility as well as the aesthetics.
Example of wordmark logos or logotypes.
Example of wordmark logos or logotypes. Brands (from top to bottom): Canva, 99designs, Neil Patel

2. Monograms

Monograms are made up of 1-3 letters and are used as a short version of a logo (on products, for example), as icons, on social profiles, etc. As for the components of monogram logos, here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Ideally, they’re composed of 1-3 letters
  • A monogram should fit well into a circular or square-shaped frame. These shapes make them ideal for icons or profile images.
  • You can use the letters as is, or you can let your creative side go wild, and instead of using straight-up letters, you can play with the character features of the letters (see images for reference.)
Examples of monogram logos
Examples of monogram logos. From left to right, then top to bottom: Canva, Rebike, Tin Bacic, FPR, Notion, Etsy

Note how the monogram for Tin-Bacic (top row, third column) creates an illusion of a small-t within the letter B. Similarly, the Rebike monogram (top row, second column) takes the features of the letters R and small-b and curves them within the shape of a person biking (this one’s mad creative!)

Or, you can keep things simple and just use plain letters, like Canva or Etsy, or even my own monogram logo for TSB.

3. Symbols

You could, instead of using monograms, use symbols. The key characteristics of a symbol logo are similar to monograms, except you do not need to use letters. Features include:

  • Fit into a round or square shape.
  • Use brand colors or complimentary colors.
  • The symbol signifies the business name or vision.
Symbol logo examples
Examples of symbolic logos. From left to right: Dribbble, Medium, Creative Market

4. A combination of wordmark and symbol

Sometimes you may come across logos that combine wordmark logos with symbols to create the main logo. Usually, they’re either enclosed inside a shape, or placed next to each other, or are stacked one on top of the other (usually the symbol on top of the wordmark logo). See some examples below:

Examples of combination logos
Examples of combination logos. From top to bottom: Adobe, Refinery29, Pocket

The tools for designing your logo

Assuming you’re not a graphic designer, it is likely that perhaps you’re not familiar with Adobe Illustrator or your Illustrator know-how is lacking. If that’s the case, I hate to break it to you but you’re just gonna have to buckle up and deal with this annoying program. That or you’ll need to find an alternative that’s similar and comes equipped with vector-editing functionality. In any case, I’ll try to give you some alternatives if you’re of the mind to throw away your computer out of the window rather than sit down and get dirty with Illustrator.

At the end of the day, to design a quality logo, you’ll need a tool that can handle vector graphics.

What are vector graphics, you ask?

Vector graphics are comprised of points that are connected to adjacent points along lines or curves depending on the desired shape. Every shape — whether it is an image, a letter, or a character — can be drawn with points and lines. When a shape is comprised of points, you can scale the shapes bigger or smaller, without sacrificing resolution or quality. That is the biggest difference between a vector graphic and a raster image.
Vector graphics are made up of points connected to each other.
What it looks like to have shapes and letters made up of innumerable points. The bottom image is a zoomed-in section of the top image. Notice the little blue points that make up the shapes of the letters with lines and curves.

When you create your logo in vector format, you do not have to worry about losing quality based on the medium. For example, you can export your vector logo in SVG format (equivalent to drawing shapes with codes based on mathematical formulas), and put it on your website. Now, whether someone is visiting your site on a cell phone or a huge monitor, the quality of your logo wouldn’t change regardless of the screen size and resolution.

The other good thing about vector graphics is that you can put them on print media (business cards, letterheads, posters, flyers, t-shirts, etc.) and the quality will still be sharp.

Take a look at the difference between a raster image vs. a vector graphic below:

Raster image vs. vector graphic
Raster image vs. vector graphic

You can spot the difference right? The raster image is heavily pixelated when zoomed-in, while the vector graphic retains its crispiness.

And that is why, my friends, you need a program that is able to handle vector graphics.

Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for designing logos

This is the program that professionals use, and yes, that sounds very intimidating, I know, but trust me, it’s just that good.

Now, sure, if you have a super complicated logo then you — who’s a total novice (if you’re not, then why are you reading this blog post??? Go make a logo already!) — will have a hard time getting much done without professional help. But the good news is that we live in a time of simple, flat logos. The simpler the better. If you’re a blogger or a freelancer, you can totally get away with a simple wordmark logo. In which case, you’ll just need to open Illustrator, type the business name with the font of your choosing, and then convert it to a vector graphic with a click.

Really, it’s that simple! There’s no excuse to not create your logo with Illustrator!

As for accessing the program, Adobe Illustrator comes with a 7-day free trial. Enough to create a wordmark and a monogram logo within that time. If you anticipate edits and customizations beyond the 7-day trial, you can subscribe to Illustrator or the entire Adobe CC suite as well.

If you’re allergic to Illustrator and must use something else, the following programs can handle vector graphics as well. I’ve never tried any of these personally, so use them at your own discretion.

Some alternative logo-design apps for total newbies

Here’s the thing. Hands down, Illustrator (or an Illustrator alternative that can handle vector graphics) is the best tool for designing a quality logo. But if you’re a complete newbie and just the name of Illustrator makes you want to run the other way, then yes, I do have some easier alternatives. They’re easy, sure, but just know that they’re not as robust as Illustrator. But if you’re a beginner blogger or freelancer and need something to get started, then sure, the two tools I’m about to mention will be sufficient for a beginner.

Canva

I love Canva. If you’ve been around this blog, you already know that. I use Canva all the time to create social media graphics, infographics, and documents like ebooks and workbooks. In fact, I’m a Canva Certified Creative!

And yet, I do not recommend Canva for designing logos in most cases. My hope is that one day I’ll be able to tell you with confidence to use Canva to design your logo, but today’s not the day. The primary reason for this is that Canva doesn’t handle vector graphics. It doe shave an option (Pro-only) where you can save your design as SVG (a popular code-based filetype for logos), but it feels a little choppy to me at times.

The good news is that if you keep your logo simple, then chances are that you’ll be fine with designing your logo with Canva and then exporting it as an SVG file with a transparent background.

Looka

Looka is an interesting tool. It has significantly automated the logo design process for non-designers. All you have to do is choose from different types of designs that you like, and Looka attempts to come up with a logo style based on your preference. You can customize fonts and colors, and as long as you’re not looking for something crazy, you’ll likely be able to have a finished logo that’s acceptable. What’s more, Looka gives you different file types (EPS, PNG, JPG, PDF) and different versions (light and dark), so as far as the quality is concerned, you’re in good hands.

The pricing is alright. It’s free to design your logo and charges you only if you decide to download the logo for use. If you play with the tool and think it’s not for you, you need not pay anything. So that’s good.

The process of designing a logo

Designing a logo is part of creating your brand identity. Now, the topic of branding for your blog or business is beyond the scope of today’s topic. Instead, I’ll assume you have a few things straightened out, such as:

  • You’ve decided on your blog/business niche.
  • You know who your audience is.
  • You’ve decided on a blog or business name.
  • You’ve come up with some adjectives/keywords that describe the vibe of your blog/business (for example: elegant, casual, comforting, down-to-earth, etc.)
  • You know your blog or business’s mission, and you also have a vision.
  • You’ve set up a color palette and fonts to be used on your website.

With that out of the way, let’s now talk about how to actually design your logo. As the title of this blog post suggests, this is not a tutorial for bona fide graphic designers. This tutorial is for those who want to create something beautiful and on-brand without the know-how of those with formal graphic design training. As such, the design process I am about to outline here is fairly basic, yet powerful. We’ll focus on creating a wordmark logo. All you really need at this stage are the following:

  1. Brand colors
  2. Brand fonts

Do not take simple wordmark logos lightly. Some pretty big brands, publications, and blogs use wordmark logos for their businesses. I’ve already shared a few of these with you earlier. But just to drive my point home, let me share a few more with you.

examples of wordmark logos
Examples of wordmark logos. From the top, Marie Forleo, Kinfolk, Popsugar, Bustle.

Now, let’s look at how to create a logo with a couple of different programs.

How to design a wordmark logo with Adobe Illustrator

Here are some steps you need to take before you start making your logo:

  • Make sure you know the hex-code(s) for your logo’s color(s)
  • Download and install the font(s) to be used on your computer
  • Download and install Adobe Illustrator (you can download a 7-day free trial from here)

To start designing a logo, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Create a new file in Illustrator and specify an artboard size — I like to create a 500px by 500px artboard for my logo work.

Step 2: Use the type tool (the “T” on the left panel) to write the name of your business on the artboard.

Step 3: You can change the font, font size, letter-spacing, vertical scaling, horizontal scaling, etc. from the properties panel. (Window > Properties)

Step 4: Change the color of the logo with the “fill” color tool. Access this tool on the left panel.

Adobe Illustrator Interface
Adobe Illustrator Interface

Step 5: When you like how your logo looks, convert it to a vector by going to Object > Expand.

Convert text-based logo to vector graphic
Convert text-based logo to vector graphic.

Step 6: When you’re happy with everything, save your logo. Make sure to save your file in these file formats:

  1. .AI (the default Adobe Illustrator file.) Go to File > Save As and then choose “Adobe Illustrator (.Ai)” from the file type drop down.
  2. .EPS (Useful if you need to edit the vector file with a different vector graphic design app than Illustrator.) Go to File > Save As and then choose .EPS from the file type drop down.
  3. .SVG. Go to File > Export > Export As, then choose .SVG from in the file type.
  4. .PNG. Go to File > Export > Export As, then choose .PNG in the file type.
  5. .JPG. Go to File > Export > Export As, then choose .JPG in the file type.
  6. .PDF. Go to File > Save As, then choose .PDF in the file type.

Here’s a video of the steps for creating a simple but sophisticated wordmark logo with Adobe Illustrator.

How to design a wordmark logo with Canva

If for some reason Adobe Illustrator or any other vector graphic design program is a no-no for you, then Canva is a close option. For simple logos like wordmark logos, Canva can get the job done.

Before you start designing your logo, take note of the following:

  1. Make sure you have Canva Pro. (You can sign up for a 45-day free Canva Pro trial here.) You’ll need Canva Pro to save your logo as a transparent-background PNG image and SVG file. You’ll also need to be a Canva Pro member to upload your brand fonts if they are not on Canva already.
  2. Know your brand color hex codes.
  3. Download and install the brand fonts on your computer, and then upload them on Canva (Go to Canva, click “Brand Kit”, then click “Upload a font”.)
Upload fonts in Canva
How to upload fonts in Canva

Step 1: To create a logo with Canva, first, create a new design. You can specify a custom dimension of 500px by 500px.

Step 2: Using the Text tool (you can hit the key “T” on your keyboard to start adding text to the design,) type your business name.

Step 3: Change the font.

Step 4: Change font color, letter spacing, or anything else you might want to change.

The design interface for making a logo with Canva
The design interface for making a logo with Canva

Step 5: Resize the Design to fit the logo to the entire frame. (Watch the video below for steps.)

Step 6: Download your logo as SVG and PNG (making sure to check the “transparent background” both times.)

Downloading logo from Canva
Downloading logo from Canva

Here’s a video showing you the steps of creating a wordmark logo with Canva:

Understanding Different File Formats for Logos

Earlier I mentioned that if you hire a designer for your logo, you must ensure they provide you with certain file types. In this section, I want to explain what these file types are and why you may want them.

1. AI files

These are Adobe Illustrator workspace files. AI file extensions can only be opened with Adobe Illustrator and nothing else. If you’re designing your logo with Illustrator, make sure to save your workspace so that you may come back to them later in case you need to make changes to your logo. If you’re working with a hired designer and your designer is using Illustrator, they should provide you with the AI file as well.

2. EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files

Let’s say that your designer made you a logo using a program that is not Adobe Illustrator. But if you have the EPS file, then you can still open it with Adobe Illustrator and make changes to the vector logo. It works the other way around as well. If you create a logo with Illustrator and need to give the vector file to someone who doesn’t have Illustrator, then they should be able to open an EPS file on their program of choice.

3. SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files

These are text-based vector graphics (coded in XML) and they’re small in size. You should always use SVG logos on your website. Since image files tend to be larger, they’re also one of the biggest reasons for slow load-speed. By using SVG logos, you can maintain the logo’s quality on any screen resolution, while making sure the file size remains small.

4. PDF (Portable Document File)

PDFs are great for when you’re in the process of designing the logo. These files retain high-resolution, vector-based graphics quality, so you can zoom in and see the details of a logo without having to open them up in Illustrator or some other design program.

5. PNG (Portable Network Graphic) files

PNG files are likely the most popular files for logos. Many people still use PNG files for logos on their website instead of SVG. (If you have an SVG file, you really should be using that on your website and not PNG.) PNG files are better quality than JPG files, and a benefit of using PNG files is the ability to have a transparent background. Aside from websites, PNGs are great for use on other types of digital products such as social media graphics, lead magnets, digital banners, etc. If you need to put your logo on some other image or graphics, use a PNG file.

6. JPG (Joint Portable Graphic) files

These files are relatively smaller and also of worse quality. Use them for logos sparingly, and definitely not in a place where the logo stands out.


And that’s it. This should give you enough to start creating your logo. To help you create a perfect brand for your blog or freelancing business (or any business, really), I’ve also created an epic freebie!

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  • 20 curated pairs of Google fonts to help you choose the perfect fonts for your brand.
  • 20 color palettes.
  • Pre-made wordmark logo template made with Adobe Illustrator.
  • Pre-made monogram logo template (perfect for using as a symbol, icon, or favicon) made with Adobe Illustrator
  • A brand style guide template made with Adobe Illustrator.
  • A detailed tutorial to customize your Illustrator templates.

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How to design a logo

2 thoughts on “How to Design A Logo You Love Even If You’re Not a Designer”
  1. Wow. I love this post so much. I dont have a logo for my website yet, because I am still a newbie, but I intend on getting one soon, and your post just gave me so much insight on the type of logo I need for my brand.
    Thank you!

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