Modern logo design: Tips to make your logo stand out

Whether you’re a freelancer or a business, designing a modern logo helps communicate your brand and services to potential clients. Typically, logos are one of the first impressions people get of your brand, so it’s essential to have one that communicates the message you want it to.

However, it’s not enough to have a good-looking logo. To stand out against your competitors, you have to have a unique logo that’s in line with today’s design trends — visually communicating that your brand can keep up with the industries’ leading brands and services. 

So, if you’re designing your own logo, this is what you need to know to create an impactful logo for your business.

What makes a logo modern?

Most modern logos use a “less is more” approach to their designs. This means minimalistic designs are in and more complicated designs aren’t. While some companies use detailed designs, the majority of major brands use simple shapes and colors. There are a few reasons why minimalistic designs are popular. Their simple, clean designs offer more versatile applications than detailed designs. Modern designs can work on mobile, plastered onto a billboard or printed on various products; their readability stays consistent. They’re also much more cost-effective when printing. Ink is expensive, so to save money on printing, brands want a simple logo with solid colors so they don’t have to pay for extra ink for graduation.

The simplistic approach applies to all elements of the logo, including the font. San Serifs are typically the go-to because of their clean, blocky design. While some brands use Serifs to achieve a professional, elegant look, most Serifs used still have a simplistic design.

Serif fonts have sharper edges while San Serif fonts have smoother edges.

How to design a logo

Start researching

To start, take some time to look at what everyone else is doing. This includes big brands and your direct competitors. Scoping out what’s working for them can help inform your design moving forward. Also, it can give you an idea of what isn’t working and what design elements are overused. Pay close attention to design trends as well. Trends are continually changing, so staying up to date with what’s hot will help you keep your branding up to date with the design elements that are working right now. You can get a good idea of what’s popular by reading industry design magazines, like Communication Arts magazine.

Make a mood board

What is a mood board?

Mood boards are an arrangement of elements (such as pictures, colors, text and phrases) that help visualize the early design style concepts you have for your logo. Since you make them at the beginning of the design process, they can either have refined ideas or loose concepts.

Mood boards can include anything that gives you visual inspiration for your logo. Image courtesy: Diffusion Digital

Why use a mood board?

Starting with a mood board ensures you and your team know what visual and emotional direction you want to convey in the logo’s design. For example, while there are countless wedding photography businesses, not all of them offer the same experience or style. One might brand itself as an elegant, high-end service, while another might want to present its brand as an intimate, local service. In the mood board phase, you’re essentially collecting references (such as color pallets and fonts) you can refer to throughout the entire design process.

The design path you want to take your brand will depend heavily on your target audience. Know who your target audience is so you can better plan how you’re going to grab their attention with your design.

It’s time to design your logo

Start sketching out your design ideas after you have a concrete direction you want to take your logo in. In the earlier stage of skating, don’t worry too much about the cleanliness of the drawing. The point is to get as many ideas as you can on paper. Let your creativity flourish here. Even if you think you won’t use an idea, draw it out anyway. It may end up inspiring a better design down the line. Try to create at least 30 unique design ideas for your logo (but the more you make, the better). Typically, the most cliche ideas are the first designs we think of, so it’s best to run through all the unoriginal ideas so you can eventually get to the unique ones.

Sketch out as many logo ideas as possible.

Once you’ve made a solid number of sketches, review and pick your top three favorite designs. It also helps to have other people take a look at your sketches and pick out their favorites. The more feedback you get, the easier it will be to make corrections. After you have your top three choices, go into a design program (we recommend using Adobe Illustrator), and make refined versions of your top three designs. This is where you want to make your logo look clean and as close to finished as possible. After finishing, have more people review your designs and pick their favorite logo of the three. If they have any feedback, you can make adjustments if you feel the changes are warranted.

Make mock-ups

At this point, you should have a well-developed logo. In the final step, you want to make sure your design is readable in various situations. There are multiple ways you can create mockups. A common way professionals make mockups is by inserting their logos into photos using Photoshop. This way, you can imagine how it will look blown up or shrunk down. Be sure it’s readable no matter the situation.

Mockup your logos onto the items you plan to have them printed on. Image courtesy: TheVectorLab

The Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard for most graphic designers. While you can use Photoshop to make your logo, it’s best to use Illustrator or any vector-based design software. Vectors are better for designing logos because you can resize your design freely without losing image quality. Photoshop isn’t vector-based; it uses pixels. So, when you make your logo larger, you have to stretch its pixels — resulting in pixelation.

For fonts, you can use either Adobe Fonts (if you have a subscription to the Creative Cloud) or Google Fonts or font sharing sites like DaFont. Just be sure to know the licensing terms for the fonts you pick out. Some of them are free to use commercially, while others require you to buy a usage license. All the fonts in Adobe Fonts can be used commercially. All you have to do is enable the fonts you want to use in Adobe Fonts.

Make a logo that will stand out from the rest

Creating a great logo design for your business takes time. Don’t rush it because it’s likely the first brand interaction your clients will have with your business. Take your time, review every step, refer to your mood board and make design choices that are true to who you are and what kind of services your brand offers. If you feel you need help, reach out to a professional designer to get their support. Many out there would be more than happy to collaborate with you to make the best possible logo for your business.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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