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Three Techniques for Unforgettable Logos

We all have our favorite logos. Some for their simplicity, some for their ingenuity, some for the recognisability — and the best logos are all of the above.

But designing a logo is a unique challenge. Each potential design comes with its own set of hurdles. You may be seasoned in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but in a world inundated with logos, how can you make your designs stand out next to the hundreds of icons and logos people see every day?

We’ve asked three expert designers to share tips on how they approach logo design and their favorite techniques for creating a logo that will last.

Michael Flarup

Use cross-platform apps in your design process.
Michael Flarup, a designer from Denmark, has spent the last 15 years designing for corporations and brands. Logo design has been an integral part of his work and a challenge he revels in. “Creating a logo is design distilled,” he says. “You need to make this little scalable piece of branding that forges a connection with the people who come in contact with it. You get to be the storyteller of the brand.”

Story is an integral component to his logo designs. “A great logo is more than just a pretty mark,” Flarup says. “There needs to be a story, some deeper connection to the material and what you’re trying to convey.”

Michael uses a process that allows him to iterate on his ideas as many times and in as many ways as possible before finding what sticks. After sketching out his initial ideas on paper, then digitizing with an app like Adobe Capture, he uses Illustrator to create his basic vector shapes and tweak them until he is happy. Then he will explore color and other detailing in Photoshop.

Michael’s process begins with sketching an idea, then builds on that ideas by incorporating shapes and finally adding in colors and details. Doing so ensures the logo is solid and balanced in all aspects, not depending too heavily on any one area to carry the design. By: Michael Flarup.

See Michael talk more about his process in this video and experiment with your own version of his logo here.  

Aaron Draplin

Shortcuts and simplicity make all the difference.
Co-founder of Field Notes, Aaron Draplin knows what it takes to create simple, elegant designs that appeal to a variety of people for a variety of brands and products. Aaron says his love for logo design lives in the reward of “the invention, seeing a project come to life, and of course, seeing how it lives in the world once it leaves our fingertips.”

More than anything, Aaron tries to incorporate basic design elements into his logos. The power of these basic elements can be lost in complicated projects, but can shine in a creation like a logo design. “It might just be how a line connects, or doesn’t connect,” Aaron says. “That might be the element I savor the most, hoping it’s the tiniest move that will set it apart in the vast sea of existing logos. Simple, bold colors. Good math. Consistent line weights, angles, and geometric relations. Sure, that’s some nerdy stuff, but that’s what I’m always gunning for in my work.”

Aaron’s Field Notes brand utilizes a simple and extremely scalable logo, making it easy to create on different platforms and merchandise. Courtesy of Draplin.com.

Aaron’s favorite technique is a simple, but often forgotten one: Command + = and Command + -.  Zoom in and out. “The best logos work equally as well at the size of a pea and the size of a softball,” he says. “What you do is this: you simply ‘zoom out’ — making the mark the size of a dime — just to see how the connections feel, consistencies of line, form, negative space and color contrast. If something is a little tight or too close, you might need to adjust. More and more, the place our logos need to work are often in small places like Twitter, Instagram, or apps on a device. They have to work there.”

For a refresher on keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, click here.

Brian Barrus

Embrace multiple iterations and hidden details.
Having worn the hat of designer and Creative Director for over 17 years, Brian Barrus currently runs his own design studio, Studio-Element, in Provo, Utah. “To me, logo design, with its smaller set of variables, is like pure design,” Brian says. “You’re stripping everything else out to see what remains.”

For Brian, the key to logo design is trying out many different options and variations. That’s what makes logos such an engaging project for designers. “They give an opportunity to iterate over and over on a very small, discreet design until you have found the best solution,” Brian says.  

The secret weapon to Brian’s is the hidden feature. “Hidden features and creative details help to give a logo impact — take the arrow in FedEx as an example,” Brian says. “The sense of  discovery the viewer experiences can be a really effective way to make your logo memorable.”

This logo design for Summerhouse Farms makes a bold statement up front, but also contains many less obvious, “hidden” details — like chickens and bumble bees — that can be appreciated the more you look at the design. By: Studio Element.

For more information on today’s hottest logo design trends, click here.

Logo design is always evolving and progressing, but one thing remains the same: A logo makes all the difference. By implementing these suggestions, you can stay ahead of the curve and bring brands to life by creating your most memorable logos yet.

Aaron Draplin and Michael Flarup will both be speaking at the MAX Creativity Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18-20. Sign up to attend the conference and get more information here.

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