Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Logo Design Basics

Craft your logo carefully because what it looks like says a lot about your business.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Your company's logo will go a long way toward defining your brand, so the process to create it shouldn't be entered into lightly. Whether you choose to work with a design team or produce your logo yourself, you must be aware of how varying images, shapes, typefaces and colors will showcase your company.

The interesting thing about many of the most popular--and memorable--logos is they don't all rely on the same element to generate brand awareness. The golden arches of McDonald's use color and shape; Apple Computer relies on an image; and Coca Cola's logo is typeface-focused. What this means to you is, you'll have some important decisions to make as you embark on the logo-creation process. And while there's no strict right or wrong way to go, you must think about what you want your logo to say about your organization before making any design decisions.

Industry Guidelines

While there are no carved-in-stone rules relating to the types of logos that should be used by specific industries, some general guidelines do exist. At one end of the spectrum are high-tech logos; at the other are logos for service-oriented industries; and business-to-business logos reside in the middle.

  • High-tech logos are typically chiseled and angular--their intent is to create the perception that the company is innovative.
  • Service-oriented logos are typically smooth and rounded--their intent is to create the perception that the company is creative and friendly.
  • B2B logos can use components from both the high-tech and service-oriented ends of the spectrum--their intent is to create the perception that the company is stable and trustworthy.

As you determine where your company falls on the spectrum, remember your logo will be used for a variety of purposes-including company identification, marketing promotions and client development-so it must be attractive to a variety of audiences. And it must be innovative enough to provide immediate differentiation, making it memorable to your audience.

Design Details

The images, shapes, typefaces and colors you choose to use in your logo will, in many respects, define your company, which makes it all the more critical for you to complete the required due diligence before coming to any decisions. Here are a few suggestions to help guide you:

  • Simplicity works. Your logo should be a clean symbol that's easily reproducible. Stay away from logos that contain a lot of information, gradation or fine details; these will be more difficult for people to recall and for you to print in smaller sizes.
  • Use color as an embellishment. A well-designed logo should look good in black. That doesn't mean you can't use color, but the color itself should not be relied on as the major design element.
  • Study the science of color and typeface. If you choose to employ color in your logo, you need to determine the appropriate color for your company. The same goes if a typeface is used in your logo; be sure the one you choose communicates the appropriate message.

During the design process, remember that you want your logo to be an element that doesn't change. It's far easier to modify your marketing message than divert from an image that's come to represent your company. If you design a logo that's unique, strong, appealing and suitable for your business, you should be fine.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks