Your logo is a big part of your brand. We talk about things like your voice, your mission, etc. that's also part of your brand, but your logo is literally your mark. Brands spend literally millions on their logos because it has such a huge impact on how people perceive their brand. Chanel, Coca Cola, Nike, FedEx, Apple, I don't have to show you a picture for you to know their logo, right? Yeah, that's because they have great logos.
While most bloggers don't have millions to invest in their logos (although some sources say some bloggers might), I'm here to help you design your own. Aside from having designed logos for my three blogs, I was also a great graphic designer in my previous life and studied typography in college. Here are the basics…
Identify What Your Brand is About
What is your brand about? What's your “thing?” What's your niche? We've covered these topics before on IFB, and it's something you should lock down before starting your logo. Are you a personal style blogger? A fashion news? Vintage? What are your values? Are you luxury or budget? Who is your market? Is it preppy or urban? Write down what your brand is about and keep this in mind for the next step.
Research Logos You Like
Make a inspiration board (real or virtual) of EVERY logo you have ever seen that you love. It could be the FedEx logo, whatever, hey, I love the hidden arrow. Even the iconic IBM logo may fit your fancy. Chances are it could be something elegant and fashion related like Vogue's logo, or Chanel, Louis Vuitton. Maybe it's whimsical like Free People's or Anthropologie, whatever, collect every. logo. you. like.
Research Your Niche, What is The Visual Language?
What do all the logos for the other blogs in your niche look like? What about the logos for the brands that are aligned with what your blog is about? Often times, visual themes pop up. Think about fashion magazine logos, how they all look similar, all caps, serifed fonts. Newspapers tend to use black-letter type like the New York Times. These themes are subliminal message that the brands belong to a certain niche and have particular values.
Warning: This is just the research part, just because all the logos in your blog's niche look a certain way is not a reason for you to follow suit.
Experiment with Different Fonts
(My sketches for the Eat, Sleep, Denim redesign)
I always type my logo, then see it in as many different fonts as I can get my hands on. Well, fonts I like anyway. That way I can see how each font communicates my blog's name. You can find tons of free fonts on Font Squirrel, or if you are looking for more established fonts like Helvetica or Didot (Vogue uses this font for it's logo) try Adobe or MyFonts.
Don't Be Too Literal
(Ug.. Really? Are there shoes under that bed?)
One trap people fall into is the “literal trap” (figuratively speaking). Say their blog is about shoes, and the blog name is “Shoes Under My Bed” So they have a logo that's shoes under a bed. The logo for “Shoes Under My Bed” can be a script font or sans serif, or display font whatever, but the WORDS “shoes” and “under my bed” already put a visual picture in our head. We don't need to see the text AND see an illustration of shoes under a bed. If we saw just a picture of shoes under a bed, would we get that the blog is called “Shoes Under My Bed” probably not. There's too much room for interpretation. I could go on about this, so the moral to this random story is don't be too literal with your logo.
(I WISH those shoes were under my bed!)
Work in Black & White First, THEN Add Color
Back in the day before digital where color is ALWAYS an option, logos had to look good in black and white so if you needed to submit your logo to a print publication or use it for marketing material and you didn't have a budget for color (more expensive) you had to have a logo that looked good in black and white. Nowadays, especially in digital, color is always available, do you know anyone with a monitor that doesn't have color?
That said, it's still a good idea to at least work in black and white. Why? You get an idea of the contrast, your logo isn't dependent on color. And if you do happen to need it printed in black and white, it doesn't lose impact.
Test in Different Formats
Does your logo look as good in a Twitter icon as it does on your header? Can you make an icon that looks enough like your logo that someone who finds you on Twitter isn't shocked when the visit your website? Blow it up as big as you can, and see how small you can make your logo and test if it still holds up. You'll need to have a flexible logo especially as a blogger!
Keep it simple
If you don't have the skills, keep it simple. If you do have the skills, why are you reading this? Kidding! Even simplicity takes skill… sometimes even more skill than a complex logo. Think about Nike, how simple that logo is. Or Chanel. Less is more!
When in Doubt, Use Helvetica
What do Fendi, JCPenny, Target, Crate&Barrell, NARS, American Apparel and Numero Magazine all have in common? HELVETICA.
Helvetica is probably the world's most used font for logos. Why? Because it's very, very hard to fuck up. Yeah, I said it. You can't fuck up Helvetica. Helvetica, Helvetica Neue or Univers does cost money, $29-$693 depending on the package you get. For those who see cost and not value, know that free fonts do not always have all the characters, ligatures and weights you need, nor are they always properly spaced or proportioned. Buying a good version of Helvetica will enable you to have a simple, professional looking logo, even if you don't have skills.
You can always tell when someone had fun creating a logo, and when they thought it was a huge headache. So put aside any insecurities and play! Experiment, and take as long as you need, we're not going anywhere.