How to create a professional logo

A professional logo can enhance a company, an organization, or a product. On the other hand, an unprofessional logo can ruin a brand and mar an otherwise good designer’s portfolio.

Many logos in use are unprofessional and carry all the tell-tale marks of an amateur or a beginner. Everyone thinks they can design a great logo, but simply knowing your way around Photoshop is not enough.

Here are some insights into the process and workflow of effective and modern logo design. With these tips and your creativity, you can make your logo designs shine with the very best.


1. Design: Sketch and brainstorm

A lot of beginners jump right onto the computer to create a logo. However, more often than not, a lot of time is spent fiddling with special effects and filters. While this can be useful, it usually means that the thoughtful design and artistry of the logo itself has taken a back seat.

A better way to start is to get a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil. Think about the meaning and the feeling you want the logo to impart to the viewer. Is it for a high tech game company or a historic non-profit organization? Should it be complex or simple? As you are thinking, sketch and doodle your ideas. Don’t worry about making everything perfect. You just want to let your natural creativity flow without your computer software taking over at this stage.

As you sketch different options, start eliminating the designs that seem weak or inappropriate. When you are satisfied with your ideas, move to the computer. (For those of you with graphics tablets, you can try sketching your ideas directly on your computer, but try and keep away from special brushes and effects.)

If you are designing a logo for a customer, keep in mind that they might not like all your ideas. So, before spending too much time on each design, you may want to present some work-in-progress designs to gauge their level of interest. This can be a huge time saver, especially if your customer has not given you a lot of direction or if they tend to be very particular.


2. Build: Vector graphics

Ah, the world of vector graphics. This is a topic that many beginners (and some professionals) find confusing. In recent years, some software such as Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and Fireworks have blurred the lines between vector and bitmap graphics.

Common image formats like GIF, JPEG, BMP, and TIFF are all bitmap formats. Digital photos are perfect examples of bitmap graphics (also known as a “raster” images) – because they are made of dots which are also known as pixels. Bitmap graphics have a specific resolution. If you zoom in on a digital photo, you will see the individual pixels. You can scale a bitmap down in size, and get some decent results, but increasing the size of a bitmap means that you are blowing up the pixels and you will get mixed results depending on the amount of enlargement. Photoshop, Pixelmator, Paint Shop Pro, and Painter are all good examples of applications that are primarily designed for bitmap graphic creation and photo editing. They are not the best tools for logo design.

In contrast, vector graphic files are not made of dots or pixels. Instead, they are mathematical formulas for shapes. Vectors can be enlarged or reduced, to any size, with no loss in detail or sharpness. For example, the lines and curves of a vector graphic will look equally as sharp on a small business card as they will on a giant advertising billboard. Professional logos are made with vector graphics so that they can used for commercial printing, web sites, television, and all other forms of media. Vector-capable file formats include EPS (encapsulated postscript), PDF (portable document format), and AI (Adobe Illustrator).

If you learn to use vector-specific drawing software to create logos, you will be able to create perfect straight lines, smooth curves, and accurate shapes quickly and easily. Excellent commercial vector drawing programs include Adobe Illustrator, Lineform, FreeHand, and Corel Draw. In addition, there are excellent free alternatives including Inkscape which is shown below.

Using your pencil sketches as a guide, use your vector drawing software to recreate a crisp version of your ideas. If you are new to using vector software, take a few moments to learn the basics of using the pen tool to create lines and “bezier” curves. Keep in mind that vector shapes can have a “stroke” of varying thickness (the outside line of the shape) and a “fill” color or pattern (the inside of the shape).


3. Decorate: Color schemes

When thinking about “fill” and “stroke” colors, try and use color combinations that make sense for the logo. For example, you might not use bright pink and orange for an investment bank. For color inspiration, look online at Adobe’s free Kuler service or pick up a copy of Jim Krause’s Color Index 2.


4. Versions: Black and white

After you’ve made brought your logo to life with color, consider how it will look when photocopied or faxed. If it looks muddy and incoherent when converted to black and white by a copier or fax machine, its time to get back on the computer and make a separate version of your logo that is purely black and white and ready for anything. The black and white version may differ somewhat from the original, but it should retain the overall look and feel. You may find yourself converting a solid shape to a hollow shape or vice versa.


5. Planning: Media

While developing a logo, keep in mind your target medium. For example, if a logo will only be displayed on a web site, you might jazz it up with multiple colors, fades, or even special effects. However, if a logo will also be used for commercial printing, you need to consider the complexity of the logo and the expense that multiple colors and effects will add to the printing costs. For some logos, you may want to create a web version and a less elaborate print version. In the printing world, each color is called a “spot” color and the more colors that are required, the more expensive the printing.

You should also take into consideration your “trapping” settings for your logo graphics. Trapping refers to the space between two colors. On a printing press, each color is usually printed separately and there can be some slight movement of the paper and machinery as each color is printed. These slight movements can cause thin hairline blanks between colors and even half of a millimeter will be noticeable if you have 2 colors that are designed to touch each other perfectly. This is equally important for colored shapes that are outlined in black. In your design, you can create an overlap (known as a “choke” or a “spread”) to occur between adjoining colors to reduce the chances that movement on the printing press will be noticeable.

However, if you look at a lot of professional logos, you will notice that different colors do not always touch and there is frequently blank space built into the designs. Blank space (“white space”) is not only an important visual tool but it can also eliminate trapping worries.


6. Refine: Typography

Words that form a part of a logo are just as important as graphics. A lot of beginners will use any old font for a logo. However, the lettering style, fonts, and even the case (uppercase, lowercase, mixed) in a logo can have a dramatic impact. Never underestimate the need to use effective typography. Also, if your logo uses a font, use your software to convert the letters into shapes/outlines. That way, if you need to send the vector file to someone, they won’t need to have your font installed on their system.

Written exclusively for WDD by Derek Underwood, a professional web designer and software developer. You can read more about Derek and contact him at his website:

Feature image by Shutterstock

Logo design is interesting and challenging. Have you designed some logos? Share your logo designing experiences and tips.

  • LumZor

    Woaw, nice article, i waited more from it but sure it is nice! thanks you!

  • Timothy

    Inkscape rocks. Nice tutorial. Much appreciated.

  • Marsca Ponee

    fantastic guide! thank you!

  • Frog

    Great stuff!

    I believe point 1 is the most important stage, doodling is quicker than creating vectors on a computer and you can experiment with ease. I find logo design the most challenging of all disciplines as a companies brand, tone of voice and positioning rests on this seemingly simple attribute.

  • Lee Milthorpe

    There’s been a lot of articles around lately about the logo design process but it’s good to read different opinions on it!

    I like the black and white tip and tend to use that in my own process!

  • Jack

    Great tips, I agree that initial concept is the most important thing in logo design.

  • http://above2 BUZZ

    WOW Very good and concise. I looked up the above systems you used as an example and was blown away. The logo and web material are such perfect partners.

  • Nelson

    Great article man, do it often cause im a beginner on logos design and i need a bit of guidence, i already got some tuts os illustrator but i need more, very good thanx…

  • WPCult

    I have been working on a logo for quite some time, but I am still stuck.. :(

  • Derek Underwood


    Your site would be what we call the “cool dusty” look which means it has graphic elements that are meant to look a bit worn and rough. I see you’ve made nice choices with stencil fonts. How about playing off that look and your domain name by outlining a group of figures (or making them silhouettes) with a banner held across their midsections with the domain name? If each figure is a slightly different height and build, with different attire, I think it would really show the team spirit spin on “cult” while remaining edgy (the edgy part is not showing interior details or features of the figure outlines/silhouettes. Or, maybe you’re one of the figures and all the other figures are non-descript except yours which has your features just like your avatar and mini-bookmark from your site. Every cult has a leader! Anyways, just an idea. Good luck with your logo and great web site.

  • 4psd

    great article

  • Nikki

    You took a complicated topic and wrote about it in a user-friendly way for those of us who aren’t super technical. Thanks! This was really inspiring.

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  • Peter Cotton

    cool post
    Lots of good points
    Thank you
    Now I see why my logos made in PS never seemed quite right

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  • insic

    awesome! this will help a lot!

    • Lee

      insic you are gorgeous, very veryyyyyyyyyyyyyy beautiful .

  • Dennison Uy

    I might add that if you do not get the logo right the first time, don’t fret – logo design takes a lot of time and effort. If you’re designing for a client, it is normal to go through as many variations as possible before they are satisfied.

    Do not get too attached to your designs, or it will hurt when you get rejected.

    • Vishal

      ya i like u thought Mr. Dennison Uy,

      Vishal anand

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  • Zeb

    Yeah ! I like this kind of article early in morning, miam miam !

    Thanks to share your experience :)

  • Patternhead

    The most important step, before you even power the computer up, is to draw, draw, draw then draw some more. The initial sketch phase takes time but it is essential.

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  • BeyondRandom

    I have added this to my “logo resources” bookmark folder. I have been meaning to start working on a logo for my site and this is another great read to help motivate me! Thanks for sharing.

  • Live Web Studio

    good article, don’t forget that they are a lot of useful resources of inspiration on the web, you can find them through delicious etc

  • Doug

    Anyone interested in an independent gig to recreate our corporate logo in appropriate vector format(s) for web, print, etc.?

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  • Jesse Couch

    inspiration is a great starting point – you can check out sites like for awesome logos in pretty much any category. Nice concise article, by the way – if I was just starting in logo design, this would be invaluable.

  • logo design guru

    These look nice. Just make sure you know the background of logo design whereas you need to account for things such as your target audience, the seriousness of the business, the impression you want your logo to give, the best way to gain visual memory for your logo. There is a lot to consider. Good luck

  • element

    nice tips!

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  • Clustr

    After the drawing phase I find it most useful to work in black and white and focus on the letter forms. I often show the client just the black and white version as I find it helps them focus on the typeface. It usually helps the process go smoother because they don’t get caught up on a color or a mark. After the black and white text phase I do a black and white plus variations of a mark before doing variations in color. By the time we get to the color phase the typeface and mark have been decided, allowing the client to focus on color combinations.

    Just wanted to give my variation to the logo design process.

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  • Quakeulf

    The only good tip when designing a logo is this:

    “If it’s simple enough to be recreated by almost anyone from a quick glance then you have success.”

    Never, EVER put too much shit in your logo, as it will cease to be a logo and transform into an emblem instead, and nobody will be able to recognise or remember it. Logos are supposed to be simple, easy to recognise and above all EASY TO REPRODUCE. Anything else is moot. QED and EOD.

  • Ed Polquin

    nice tutorial, will try out inkscape
    finally I think I am getting vectors now

  • Yves

    Why was my comment moderated? All I said was that just like with anything that you are not good at (e.g., growing rice and building cars), you can call a pro and get a truly good logo. Even startups like Apple, Yahoo, and Google called someone to take care of their brand’s image at some stage when they became serious about their product.

  • Kamil

    Oh yes. Typography is very serious problem. BTW how find some font which I could use for design logo of my brand. That mean I will use this letters for commercial use, this interfere in licence.

  • Paul

    Great article. Good tips. I think it will help a non artist like myself come up with decent logos. Thanks.

  • Tim Smith

    Great Post!! I definitely agree with making Black and White versions. If it doesn’t work in black and white, it won’t work at all.

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  • Gopakumar

    Great Post!! Good Tips.

    Thank You very much!!

  • Tim

    Great article! As someone who has worked with one of the largest logo design companies, the step about conferring with the client in the initial phases cannot be overemphasized. If you’re a graphic designer, versus a branding expert, you’ll need to make the assumption that the client knows best what would be best. I love how the article stresses the importance of the flexibility of the logo in both web and printing. For an idea of how the logo might be used for corporate id and promotion, check out

  • http://haliyardshiflier haliyards hiflier

    please create a logo for haliyards hiflier

    • deron

      Do it yourself

  • http://haliyardshiflier haliyards hiflier

    great article good tips

  • http://haliyardshiflier haliyards hiflier

    good post greate article thank you very much

  • twisty

    Good basics on this subject. bit of confusion with the colours and printing processes though. If you are choosing spot colours for your logo to be reproduced in print, kuler is no good. You will need to get a hold of a Pantone book and choose proper PMS colours. Anything with more than 3 spot colours is pointless because then you would juct use 4 colour process anyway, which is more than affordable these days.
    The part about designing in black and white is paramount though.
    i always start with black and white, then design a greyscale version to get contrast and legibilty right. once this is ok then move onto colours.

  • Awank KostBlogger

    wow….nice article….thanks….:)

  • Mohd Ovais

    Nice article atleast for beginners!!

  • Keith

    Nice article never new some of these things and will save an valuable time later.


  • FontSmithy

    @ twisty

    I disagree, I leave PMS color choices to last. Use Kuler or anything to make your color scheme and then when you go to print you pick the PMS that matches best. Otherwise, you have to pick PMS first which limits you and then you have to match it with a digital color for all your digital work. Plus, not all graphics apps have PMS built-in.

    Since PMS is a limited list of colors, best to use that last for print work matching. Just my opinion!

  • Lisa

    A great refresher on logo design. I actually have 2 clients needing logos so your article is very timely for me right now. The sketching phase is the step I need to work on the most.

    BTW, I really love this blog and I’ve been following it on Twitter…thanks!

  • jamie c

    I wish i had the balls to forward this to some of my clients. Expecting a logo concept in 1/2 a day is the norm for them. Soul destroying.

  • Gabriel

    Nice, thanks!

  • nishell

    Awesome idea and tips…………….thanks 4 the sharing

  • Derek Underwood

    @ jamie c

    Yes, send them the article and tell them that great logos take more than 1/2 a day. Present it in a friendly manner. Ask them what they think? I find that clients who think logos are simple also tend to think that logos (and design in general) are relatively unimportant. However, in the long run, a great logo can propel a brand/product/service much further. Tell them to be patient and that you are on their side.

  • app

    It’s a very common misconception that Paintshop Pro is a raster only application. You can create vectors with it too. Of course the file format you usually end up with is .psp, but that particular format can save both vector or raster data, and even both within the same image (on different layers).

    The other format you can save to is .jsl which allows you to save many different vector designs to a single file, and makes them quite easily reusable. They would be equal to vector shapes libraries.

    The reason why most people don’t know that PSP can be a rather powerful vector application is because they never bother to read the help file, which has about 50 pages explaining how to use the vector tools.

  • some geek

    Thanks a lot for this article!!
    I’ll definitely give it a try.

  • Many


  • Stone Deft

    You look great, Thanks

  • stephen

    Great information. My logo is the result of at least 5 years of evolution and lots of sketched ideas. I wanted an simple logo/avatar that showed off my signature photograph, somehow said my domain name, plus stuck-out like dogballs on a bull-terrier. I’m not a pro’ graphics artist, I don’t profess to be… but IMHO opinion (and the revered opinion of people in sales and business), it works. It’s everywhere. It’s me.
    What your article has alerted me, and that I now find most important: How does it photocopy or fax? Therefore making a black&white version ASAP.
    Now adding to my RSS-reader!

  • niel

    GR8 job…dude keep on posting such usefull comments in future..

  • live4pk dot com

    could you please give a example in adobe photoshop as you give on top of this articale?

  • Webagentur

    Wow … thank you … this has me very helped.

  • Piedmont


    i’ve used PSP for years, yeah it can do vectors but its not the best tool for that, same with photoshop, they can do vectors but that’s not what they’re made for, i dont use them for logo design and sharing the PSP file format itself is not a good idea as most printing companies cant read a PSP file, so you have to convert to something else in PSP first and PSP doesnt do a great job converting to a vector file

  • Shovan

    Thanks for the useful info

  • Swashata

    Excellent tutorial! I like to work with papers and crayons first before working with any software :)

  • J

    Thanks so much!

  • M. Velmurugan

    Thank you so much……………………………………….!

    It is very useful to me.

    Thank you once again for guide me

  • HepCat_

    Great Article!

    I get the feeling that many posters here don’t distinguish branding from logo design. Before you sit down to design a logo I would recommend researching branding. Understanding how the company chooses to brand itself greatly influences the logo.

    “Tim” and “Logo Design Guru” touch on this subject as well.

    Good luck :) and make sure to have fun.

  • Don

    Logo is like the face of an organization.Just imagine what we would be doing while searching for the famous MacD to stop on the highway to grab a bite.
    Without knowing what one wants to conceptualize it is very early to even think about the final look of a logo.A logo has to necessarily include the spirit,feel and imprint of the organization it represents.
    A good writeup for those starters who want to mark out a career designing sites,logos or other things or corporates.
    I must mention here that sometimes I come across very small businesses with so much original and attractive logos that I can compare them to many MNC logos and would still pick that one out as the winner.

  • Ali

    Nice! Really very informative

  • Jared

    Logo design is one of the hardest things to do if you ask me. I have only created a handful of them, most recently the logo, but each time I faced the same issues.
    How to design something that is relevant to the company it’s for, what font to use and how, how to make it visually appealing, creative, but simple and attractive.
    All of these things can be difficult to figure out.I have been trying to create a new logo for my site, the past few days, which is why I have been doing some research to learn more about logo design. It’s about time I learned how to overcome the issues I always seem to face when making logos. This article will be a huge help for me, so thanks!

  • Bipan

    Logo is first impression to show the face of an organization. so it is most valuable.

    Thank you so much…!

    It is very useful to me.

  • Nuno

    Very useful thoughts. Keep them coming.

  • bockerl

    Thank you, that has me very helped.

  • Jacopo Belbo

    An excellent article I have just found surfing the net. I have designed a number of logos for both private and business clients, though I have never learnt the art anywhere. The article gives me encouragement and tells me that logo/corporate identity design is something of a mental process that usually takes time. I am glad to read ALL the stages I have gone through myself – mostly learning from my own mistakes. Nice stuff, thanks very much.

  • gofree

    never know it’s such a hassle in logo design. I have a lot to learn then :)

  • Webby Design Guru

    Thanks for posting these amazing ideas. Great article!!!

  • Mazamitla

    Thanks a lot for this article…

  • M. Farmingdale

    great great article
    thank you

  • mannycartoon

    great article. All the basics were covered clearly and you even gave some spart links to things that we all need help with.

    Seomething else I always find helpfull is altering a font for the best fit.

    My old professor used to tell us never give the client something they could find for themselves.

    It also has the added bonus of giving you a complimentary font for tag lines and other info.



  • joe

    A bit out of touch… among other things, Freehand hasn’t been available for years.

  • inwebdeveloper

    good article

  • Isa

    good article. This are basic and very important things that should always be remembered.-

  • Dracom

    @ Joe

    among other things: what are you talking about?
    click on the Freehand link in the article before writing a comment
    everyone knows it is an old program, you think we are dumb?
    BUT Adobe does still sell it and you can upgrade older versions
    and for people with older computers and old versions of Freehand or Macromedia Studio. guess what? Its still a good tool
    its not about what software you use, its about your skills bro.
    its not about the brush, its about the artist bro.
    btw, i don’t use Freehand anymore but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good program

  • ndafender

    waw thanks brother… i will learn for you for others keep posting…

  • Omelas0469

    Very concise and informative. I added this to my bookmarks. Thanks a lot for taking the time for putting this together and sharing it with us!

  • Lauren

    God, please don’t ever remove this article. It’s so helpful!

  • Logo Design Gear

    Thanks for the article. It helps me a lot :)

  • Pakistani

    Very Nicely Done !

  • Billy

    Thanks, I’m struggling with designing my own logo, I think you’ve given me something to think about there

  • Steven

    Thanks for this article I’ve learned much about how to create a pro logo.

  • MatasProfessionalLogos

    Some designers ignore the part when you draw sketches on a paper. But in my opinion this is a very important step, which should not be missed. You can come up with very clever ideas on a paper, which is harder and more time consuming on a computer :).

  • http:// RObin

    THis is really a interesting post …astonishing………..!!!!

  • Mike Pickett

    Great article. I do quite a bit of logo design for my clients. I also include a copy of their logo in full color, greyscale, black on white and white on black. If the logo is complex with multiple colors and I know they are going to print with it I will also tone back and give them a dual or tri-color logo for print.

  • Rhilwan

    Great article. I really wish I could read a whole lot more of this. I have done a couple of logos in recent years but I still wish to know how to draw inspiration from a given information on logo formation. I mean how to draw points that will make great features for your logo in different client categories. Thanks a lot for this one and God bless

  • ShikØ

    Nice one mate thanks so much for this valuable info =)

  • Jhon Frank

    These look great. Just make sure you know the background and the logo design must be such aspects as population, the severity of the impression that want your business logo to give the best way to get a visual memory of your logo. There is much to consider.

  • deborah anne

    your header is sick! :D

  • Derek Banas

    Most designers create logos by looking at 100’s of the best. They then look for interesting uses of the letters and symbols they’d like to use. Pick their favorites and then combine them into one new logo. There are over 600 logos available here

    Free software like Gimp and Inkscape are pretty nice knockoffs of Photoshop and Illustrator as well.

  • Luís Salvador

    Great article! ;D

  • Jacob Brydges

    Very informative article. I agree the fact that a professional logo can enhance a company, an organization, or a product. Logo plays a huge role in helping people to remember and associate your brand/company. It has to be effectively done and designed by professional logo company. I have used Logo Design Creation for my logo design and I can tell you that each and every reply I received was done in a professional and timely manner, especially considering the time zone difference.
    Their prices are extremely competitive and both of the above mentioned are the main reasons why I decided to use their company for my logo design. I also favored Logo Design Creation for the ability to choose amongst the different design options prior to committing to the purchase. I love them!!

  • Praxil

    best article on this I’ve seen

  • dimitar

    How to make a logo for my company that deals with the packaging of granular products.
    Please some one hundred such should have the logo.

  • dimitar

    please give me WEB for pc program to makes my logo

  • sunrise lic

    i want to creat my logo this name

  • anish@pcpedia

    Can you start a video series on logo creation in photoshop.Please upload it in you-tube part by part .It would be very useful for beginners like me to work on photoshop.

  • raj

    great writeup i like very much
    thankyou for posting