• Mark Hannafin

Logo Making 101

Probably every graphic designer who blogs will at some point do a blog on logo creation. Will this blog be any different? ....NO, no it won't. I would love to take you on a journey of logo making in some unconventional way. However, it is far easier for both you and me, if we start with the basics. That is why this blog is entitled Logo making 101.

Before we start, I would like to note that although there are a few design directions for the creation of a logo, there is no set way or "right way" to do design. I will describe here how I go about the process of designing. Feel free to follow and adapt it to your own.


Each logo is different. The theme represents so much of what the logo will be. Making a logo for baby toys will be totally different from that of a kitchen knife. Soft curved shapes better represent innocence while more angular or straight lines take a more serious approach. Consider the LEGO logo for instance. It has a simple colourful design and the word ‘Lego’ is engraved in a nice round font that looks playful. This logo certainly doesn't depict the sharp little Ba.....Brick that feels more like a cat’s claw stabbing you from the underside of your foot. Such an image wouldn't sell too well as a children’s toy, so the

theme is very important to not just the logo but for everything that comes after.

One has to consider whether the logo should have a contemporary or classic style, the audience the logo is geared towards and whether the logo needs to represent serious business or a fun concept. So before you even start to put pen to paper the theme needs to be decided upon from the outset.


Research can take many forms. Mostly it involves scouring the web and obtaining examples of other logo and styles. Ideally, designers strive to create something new. Create something no one has seen or done before, to be the first and then hailed as one of the ‘greats’ who defined a generation of design. This, unfortunately, rarely happens! Que sad face. Design is or can be described as an apolitical wasteland where people run around scavenging and stealing others’ great ideas and recreate them or readapt them.

Sites like Pinterest and Behance have thousands of artistic works which give not only ideas but an inspiration for designers looking to make their logo stand out. Before you go thinking that graphic design sounds unethical, I assure you any research taken is only as an example - not to be recreated, stolen or reused in any way. That is plagiarism and is highly frowned upon. It also could get you into trouble with the law and financially neither of which are good for business.

Finding what you are looking for can be both fun and infuriating. The fun comes from finding strange or wonderful websites; the infuriating part of the process is how long it could take. Depending on what you are designing, research could take four to five hours or more. I find capping it at three hours of continuous research to be best, and then begin to work with what I have found. For a logo, sometimes it could be a shorter amount of time if you know what to be looking for and have an early idea in your head. Once your research is done putting your early ideas on paper, printing it out and sticking it up where you can see it daily is helpful.


This is where we start to design. Initial sketching can be done on white paper or graph paper. Personally, I start with clean white paper and get a few pages of sketches down before moving on to graph paper. Note: some designers will jump onto their computer and start designing on a CAD program straight away. For me, this is rushed and means you skip a creative step. Freehand drawing helps with the flow of ideas. In my opinion, initial designing on a screen is more rigid and may inhibit creative flow. The quicker ideas move from your head to the page the better.

Sometimes I find a good design on the first page - it can happen but not that often. If you find yourself in a creative flow stay with it as long as possible. It can be easy to spend three or more hours just sketching, taking one idea and going with it until the stream of creativity runs out. Keep drawing and drawing to get the inferior ideas out of the way. Sometimes you will create the right design quite quickly and other times you will never be happy with the concepts on the page. In the latter case, the best thing to do is pick three of your favourites and then develop them further.

Graph paper is helpful for correcting the shape and size making the design fit, determine the dimensions for it and clean it up to look the part. At times, I move on to Graph Paper earlier in the sketching process if I know the design calls for a more angular and rigid feel. Having said that, I also like to use graphed paper for circles and curves. This allows the designer to make arc's that are in proportion to the rest of the design.

Remember that designing is about creativity and having the freedom to do things in your own way. My next blog will explore the initial design phase and consider text and colour.

I wish you all the best and every success in both design and life. Thanks for reading Logo Making 101.