step-by-step guide to creating your company logo
Entrepreneur Magazine - September 2000 - By
Sometime during the process of starting your business,
the words "do logo" will appear on your to-do list, if they haven't
already. It's exciting during those early days to watch your logo develop
into something worthy of displaying, like a flag for your company. The question
you have to ask yourself is whether that combination of artwork and typography
will stand up through the years. You have to get it right the first time.
That's why we're engaging in Logo 101 here. Using the example of "Robinhood
Feast," a restaurant for which I helped develop a logo several years
ago, I'll walk you through the steps from A to Z of designing a powerful
According to Tom Charvat, a former senior vice president at brand-marketing
firm Frankel & Co. in Chicago who helped with this project, a logo is
typically a combination of four elements: a brand name, typography, a brandmark
(optional) and trade dress (see Step 4-trade dress involves a lockup of
artwork and specific colors).
1. Your first step in the process is hopefully done: You've already selected
a brand name. We've selected Robinhood Feast. This choice was driven by
the business plan, which defined the business as "a restaurant established
in 1992 on the shores of a Michigan lake, where the meals are served on
long, planked tables with robust servings, steins of beer and wine in glazed
mugs, all designed to appeal to people who enjoy the outdoors, fish and
game." All those considerations are important and guide other decisions,
beginning with step two: typography.
2. As this article demonstrates, different type fonts impart very definite
characteristics about the brand name. "You need to select typography
that fits with your brand character with an eye toward readability,"
says Charvat. "Remember that your logo will have to extend to various
applications, from signage to stationery."
We toyed with a few different type styles, such as Old World type, before
deciding on this one, chosen for its clarity and the traditional look of
the serif (the lines at the top and bottom of the letters).
3. This step is optional: developing a brandmark. A brandmark is a symbol
that complements an aspect of your business or service such as speed, quality,
value or personality.
The symbol we've chosen works on a number of levels. It includes an arrow
icon that evokes the legendary Robin Hood personality. The head and tail
of the arrow also work with the structure of a fish, representing the seafood
aspect of the menu and the restaurant's outdoors atmosphere. You could also
argue that the arrow represents speed of service (straight as an arrow,
right to your table), but the imagery of the arrow/fish is what really drove
4. Step 4 begins with a combination of the selected type font with the brandmark
icon to create a lockup. Charvat describes it this way: "I chose the
shape of a platter to lockup the elements within a restaurant theme and
to evoke large helpings." This example demonstrates the ability of
a good lockup to create a sense of cohesion between the elements. This lockup
also will eventually become the template for the colors of your new brand
Here again, look at the color(s) needed to reflect the brand attributes.
Earth tones made an easy-on-the-eye palette, and numerous variations of
browns, greens and neutrals like white and black were considered (and used).
The final colors applied to the lockup of the brandmark and typography ultimately
define the trade dress of the logo.
One thing you need to watch out for as you explore color options is cost. "A five-color logo may look terrific on paper but can be extremely
expensive to produce and will disappoint in applications that allow only
one or two colors," Charvat warns. Try not to exceed three colors unless
you decide it's absolutely necessary. You should also perform a logo color
test like the one mentioned in "Color Me Happy".
It's not a bad idea to solicit some opinions at this point in your logo's
production, particularly from potential customers and experienced advisors.
If you decide to design the logo yourself, you can use a program like Adobe
Illustrator, but you'll still want to seek professional advice from a designer
or a printer in order to anticipate any potential problems you might have
with printing and costs. It's also important to work closely with a trademark
attorney, like you did when you developed your brand name for your new business.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? It can be. Just remember to keep your customers
and the nature of your business in mind when you put it all together. In
time, you will have succeeded in building equity in your trademark, and
it will become a positive and recognizable symbol of your product or service.
When that happens, cross it off your to-do list.
Color Me Happy
Your logo can appear on a variety of media: signage, advertising, stationery,
delivery vehicles and packaging, to name just a few. Remember that some
of those applications, like black-and-white newspaper ads, have production
limitations. Make sure you do a color study. Look at your logo in one-,
two- and three-color versions.
Entrepreneur Magazine - September 2000 - By Steve Nubie