How to Bring a Logo to Life

  • Phillip Peet
  • Phillip Peet

I am sure you would agree designing a logo (or brand) from scratch is a very challenging exercise. The process of starting out with a blank sheet of paper and turning it with a memorable trademark can be quite daunting. Throughout my career I have worked on a number of identity projects so I thought I would share some of my tips and techniques to help you bring a logo to life.

Research, Research, Research

Easily the most important part of any design project is to conduct extensive market research. To assist with this process get your client to list keywords that represent their business and then perform searches based on these terms. It can be very helpful to have a mood board of all the associated textures, patterns and images so that you have a source of inspiration when generating ideas.

Experiment with Typefaces

You should spend an hour or more testing the text element of the logo in various typefaces. Don’t just limit yourself to the typography you have installed on your machine, for best results go online and preview others. For free fonts that you can test online check out I recommend you write the text in at least ten different typefaces and then use a process of elimination to cancel out what doesn’t work. If your client would like to include a slogan you should also experiment with compatible typefaces. The typeface used for the main text element and the slogan doesn’t necessarily have to be the same, they just have to compliment each other.

Keep it Simple and Clean

Too many shapes and symbols in a logo can be overkill and make a design look more like a WordArt object. To avoid this you should consider either combining objects in a creative way or look at your options of using negative space. For some nice examples visit

Design it without Colour First

If a logo doesn’t work in greyscale (black and white) it won’t work in colour either. It is therefore a good idea to avoid colour to begin with and just focus on the elements and shapes. In some instances it might even be worthwhile presenting the initial concepts in greyscale and giving your client the opportunity to discuss colours. You will find that most clients will enjoy being involved and having some say about the creation of their logo or brand.

Consider the Applications

You should always confirm where and how your client intends on using the logo. If your client intends on embroidering the identity you should avoid gradients and intricate details. Either this or provide an alternative option which is safe to embroid. You also need to check whether your client requires an inverse option. This might be because they would like to get vinyl lettering on a pre-existing sign that already has a background colour or embroidered on a shirt that is not plain white.

Give it some Depth

Depth is a technique that many web designers use when creating graphic user interfaces. It is quite amazing how much a gradient, highlight or shadow not only boosts a website but a logo as well. If you have in the past used a single flat colour for an identity try adding a linear or radial gradient. Be careful however that the colours you choose are not at opposite ends of the colour spectrum. Gradient effects only work best when they have a subtle colour transition. Another effective technique is to slightly offset a graphic/text element and turn it into a shadow (shade) or a highlight (tint). For the my brand I created an offset of each individual letter and positioned it over the previous letter. I then turned it into a darker transparent shade to make it look as though each letter has depth.

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