Logo design for beginners

A stack of business cards designed with Canva

Designing a logo is one of the most important steps in developing a brand. Your logo is your business’ most visible asset. It goes on your website, social media, business cards, product packaging – everywhere your customers are looking for your product.

Your logo has a critical and challenging role to play – to communicate who you are as a brand to your customers. Your logo design is important, so how do you get it right? How do you design a logo(opens in a new tab or window) that stands out from your competitors, communicates your brand identity, builds brand recognition, and resonates with your ideal customers? Canva makes it easy.

1. Research, ideate, iterate

When it comes to designing logos, inspiration is going to be one of your most useful tools. Exploring what other brands are doing in your space will help you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s working and what’s not, identify trends you want to stay away from and ways to make your logo truly unique. The research step gives you context, inspiration and will help guide your logo design process.

Establish your point of difference

Your Point of Difference (POD) is what makes you special, different, and unique – what sets you apart from your competition. It’s the thing that’s going to make your ideal customers want to work with you over the thousands of other options they have in the market—and it needs to come across in your logo design.

If you don’t know what your POD is, that’s ok. That just means it’s time to do a little detective work. Your POD should be as unique as your logo.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What does our brand do better than anyone else on the market?
  • What’s our biggest strength?
  • What’s the best compliment we’ve received from a client or customer?
  • Why would someone choose us over another brand?
  • What’s one thing we know can do better than anyone else?

Inspiration is everywhere

Finding inspiration is important for your logo design during your research process. It’s also a classic procrastination trap, avoid getting caught up here and remember the best inspiration comes from within (and often while you’re in the throes of designing).

Finding visual inspiration

Canva can help you create an idea even when you don’t feel inspired. You can search the elements tab for graphics that might help communicate the ideas behind your brand.

Try adding a bunch of potential elements to a page, so you can think of unique ways to combine them. You can use Magic recommendations to find similar elements in the same style or theme. You can start playing around with these elements until you create a spark of inspiration. A good designer leaves this as it is. A great designer knows that this is just the first step.

Logo style

The first thing to consider is what style will best match your brand aesthetic. Does a vintage, modern, minimalist, or futuristic style fit best? Knowing the style you’re developing will help guide your decisions on the other design elements. Whatever logo you’re designing, start inspired with our range of professionally designed templates(opens in a new tab or window).

Thumbnailing and sketching

Now that you’ve done some research, found some inspiration and begun creating some visual inspiration, it’s time to step away from the computer. Why would a digital design platform advocate for going offline? Simply because it works. It’s the best way to get your ideas down, without the constraints of technical skills or digital tools.

Keep it simple

Grab a piece of paper and a pen. A thumbnail is what we call a small sketch that quickly captures an idea. It’s usually in just one color (unless the idea is specifically about colors) and it doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as it makes sense to you. Aim to keep it simple – one idea per thumbnail.

Iterate and repeat

Thumbnails are a tool to help designers think visually and turn visual inspiration into something original. The aim is to work fast and, once you capture an idea in a thumbnail, move onto another idea or iterate an idea into a new thumbnail. See if you can fill a page while you are having a coffee. Try things and experiment without self-judgement. If it doesn’t work, start another thumbnail. This process helps you find a unique approach to your logo so when you’re back on the computer, you’ll be able to bring that perspective with you.

2. The 5 types of logos

Before we dive into designing your logo, let’s take a look at the strengths and benefits of five different types of logos.

Pictograms

A pictogram (or symbol) logo is made using a single icon or symbol. While this logo uses the name of the brand, the idea is that the symbol remains recognizable even without the text.

Wordmark

A wordmark logo is made using just text to spell your brand’s name. This removes all extraneous design elements and keeps the focus on your brand name.

Lettermark

A logo that uses minimal text, typically a brand’s initials or the first letter of the brand’s name, to create a symbol or icon. This minimalist expression of a wordmark can be a great option for smaller placements and applications.

Combination mark

A combination logo combines the symbol and wordmark logo types. This logo is more demanding from a design perspective as you must create two different elements that work together and also, apart. That is also its great benefit too as your brand can use the symbol or wordmark in different instances.

Emblem

An emblem logo resembles a seal or crest and features the company name within the design. This distinct logo has a rich history inspired by royal crests. There’s opportunity to work layered meanings into an emblem logo as seen in heraldry.

3. Using Gestalt principles of design

Figure ground and negative space

Figure ground is the perception between a subject and its background. A common interplay is to use negative space to create a symbol or logo hidden in a design. To do this, try overlapping elements and fitting them together in creative ways. Only use black and white at first, then create interesting new combinations.

Proximity

The proximity of elements impacts our understanding of design. Elements that are close together appear to be more related than elements that are spaced further apart. This should always be applied consistently so it becomes obvious the two parts are related. Use this principle to your advantage by making sure the wordmark is close to the symbol in your logo lockup.

Similarity

Look for ways to create consistency between the elements of your logo. This could be achieved through consistent use of a color palette or applying the same thickness to the type, lines and other design elements.

Closure

When it comes to logo design, simplicity is key. Avoid complex illustrations or visuals, or continue working them until they’re a simpler, more minimal expression of the logo concept. Try to communicate the essence of an idea or image and allow people to fill in the gaps with their imagination. Leaving some space for people to “work it out”, will actually make your logo more memorable.

Continuity

Arranging elements along a path creates continuity, which can suggest movement or the outline of something else. Continuity can be used to add depth to your logo design.

Symmetry

Have you ever noticed that logos almost always look symmetrical? That’s because symmetrical elements are perceived as part of the same group. Try aligning all the logo elements in a symmetrical arrangement to achieve a cohesive whole.

4. The power of Color palette

Next up, consider color. When it comes to incorporating color into your logo, less is more. Trying to splash the whole rainbow across your logo design can feel visually overwhelming; a good rule of thumb is to stick to four colors or fewer. You can learn more about combining colors in our Graphic Design Basics(opens in a new tab or window) course in Canva Design School.

You also want to choose your colors strategically. Colors can have strong associations with certain emotions. When used strategically, colors can make your logo more impactful and memorable. For example, People associate money with green, blue with trustworthiness, and black is perceived as being the most sophisticated of all colors.

5. The four categories of typography

If you’re including text in your logo, the font or typography you choose is critical in communicating your brand’s personality. There are countless fonts to choose from and finding the perfect font can be overwhelming. To help you narrow your search, you can use the four different categories of typography.

Serif

Serif fonts have an anchor at the end of each letter and are more traditional than other font types. A popular example of this is Times New Roman.

Sans Serif

These fonts have a cleaner, more minimalist aesthetic and don’t have the anchors on each letter that you see with Serif fonts, which is where this category gets its name. Popular examples of Sans Serif fonts are Helvetica and Arial.

Script

Script fonts mimic cursive handwriting and evoke a handcrafted, poetic touch. Popular examples of Script fonts are Pacifico and Brusher.

Display

Display fonts vary broadly but are defined by a unique characteristic or effect. A good example of a Display font is Black Casper.

6. How to design a logo in Canva

Once you’ve done some research and thumbnailing, considered what type of logo will work best for your brand, refreshed on Gestalt principles and shortlisted some fonts to use, it’s time to start designing. Here’s a step-by-step process for designing your logo in Canva.

Start inspired with a template

Canva has thousands of logo templates you can customize to make your own. Choose a logo that resonates with you and feels connected to your brand. Once you have a shortlist, you can start customizing it and testing some of your thumbnail ideas and see which fonts are working.

Choose your color palette

Creating a color palette will help you keep your logo on brand. Click on any part of your design to bring up the options menu above. Locate the icon for colors, and you can choose colors from the default color palette or create your own. To do this, click the “+” sign under Document Colors to bring up the color wheel. Select the color you want and Canva will automatically provide the color code so you can incorporate the same shades into the rest of your branding. Just click on the “+” again to add a new color.

Once you’ve selected your colors, you’ll want to set a background color (if it’s anything other than white) before you start adding any other elements to the logo. To set the background color for your logo, just select the appropriate color from your palette.

Choose your font

Once you’ve chosen your color palette, it’s time to add text. If you’re not using text, skip to step 4.

When it comes to adding text, you have two options. You can browse the existing font layouts and choose one to customize. Or, you can manually choose and add your fonts. You can find both options in the left sidebar. Once you’ve added a heading, subheading, or a little bit of text, you can change the font, size, color, and style by using the menu options above your design.

Add additional style elements

Once your text is laid out, it’s time to add the other elements. These extra touches, like lines, shapes, illustrations, and icons, can all be found on the left sidebar. You can easily switch the color of any or all of these style elements by clicking the color square in the top left menu bar.

Finish and save

Once you’re happy with your combination of color, text, and graphics, voila! Your logo is ready to go. Your designs automatically save every few moments, and you can download a version to your computer by clicking Download on the top right side of the page.

Create multiple versions of your logo

Once you’ve finalized your logo design, it’s a good idea to think of all the different placements and ways you may use your logo and make sure you have a version that will work in each situation.

For example, your primary logo might be in color, but if you do a lot of print work, it’s a good idea to also create a black-and-white version. Or maybe your primary logo is a combination mark that incorporates text and graphics, but you may want to create a symbol logo that works on your mobile website. There’s no rule for how many versions of your logo you should have. Think instead of how and where you might need a different version of your logo and create those versions to suit your needs.

7. Final tips for designing your logo

We’ve gone through a LOT of information in this post, so before we wrap things up, let’s go over a few final tips for designing a standout logo that will connect with your audience.

Don’t get wrapped up in trends

Trends come and go quickly. If you want your logo to stand the test of time, avoid them and go for more timeless details. Research can help you identify timeless font designs – use them as inspiration instead of passing fads and you’ll save yourself a lot of time redesigning your logo when the current trend fades.

Test your design

Working on such an important design asset for so long can make you feel too close to it to make objective decisions. Testing your design is easy and can offer unique insights you can’t get elsewhere. It can be as simple as asking colleagues, friends or family. Be sure to be clear on what type of feedback you want, and if your feedback crew are too supportive (“I love them all”), pair designs and make them choose one. This can help you hone in on a final design.

Substance > Style

Having a great logo is important but ensuring your brand can back up its beautiful image with substance is even more crucial. If you’re still a bit unclear on what your brand stands for, pick up the point of different research you were doing earlier and continue exploring it until you find it. Articulating your brand’s values and mission, even just so your team understands, can be super helpful.

8. Check out our Free Creative a Logo Course

Check out our free and interactive Creating A Logo course(opens in a new tab or window) in Canva Design School(opens in a new tab or window). The video-based course can help deepen your understanding of logo design and includes tasks so you can practice what you learn.

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