How to Design a Logo: Designing Typographic Logos


You’ve been asked to design a logo for Debonair, a chain of upscale men’s spa and hair salons. What’s your first step in the logo design process? Should you focus on a masculine custom logo design or make it more elegant in order to communicate the high-end benefits for clients? What’s the best logo design? Should you hone in on the company name by creating a typographic logo or would a symbol or icon bring in the clients? The possibilities seem endless and overwhelming. You’re not alone. One of the most searched phrases on Google is “How to design logo.”

Looking for some logo design inspiration? How about some great logo design tips? Good, because we’ve put together a free ebook, a virtual logo design tutorial on Designing Typographic Logos, excerpted from one of our most popular books, The Logo Brainstorm eBook, by Jim Krause, an expert on how to design a logo.

Debonair is a word that provides meaning and symbolism, making it a great choice for a typographical logo. Krause has a special affinity to each font that, he believes, goes beyond simple text, “A typeface’s real beauty lies in its ability to add to a word’s inferences of emotion, personality, behavior and belief.”

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What’s the best logo design? The logo design process begins with a review of the company, its audience, products and finally the personnel behind the corporate entity.

Perhaps the most recognizable logo in the world is Coca-Cola, a typographic logo created in 1887 by John Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank M. Robinson. Pemberton developed the cola, but Robinson knew how to design a logo. He liked the idea of putting the two C’s together in Spencerian script.

Custom logo design can put a lot of pressure on a graphic designer and the search for inspiration is ongoing. Remember that on of the top searches in Google is “How to design logo.” The logo represents the company, its products, its innovations and its people. When determining which kind of logo to create – symbol, typographic or blended (symbol and typographic) – a list of questions for your client is a great place to start as you begin to design a logo.

Do you want the focus of your company to be on the name? Create a typographic logo
Is the name of your company too common or used by another company, ie. Smith Electric, Wilson Cars, etc.? Use an iconic symbol.
Is the company name or brand the actual parent company with several extensions under its umbrella? Use an iconic symbol to pull all the brands together under one powerful image.
Does the company name require no explanation? Create a typographic logo as in FedEx or Pizza Hut.

When you begin to design your logo, you can make it stand out using several techniques – Existing Typefaces, Simple Modifications, Family Considerations, Customizing Letters, Embellishment, Pictorial Add-ons, Hand drawn lettering. Our free ebook Designing Typographic Logos will help you through the process.

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According to Krause, “A signature’s typeface gives voice and personality to the design. This is especially true in the case of a logo that’s purely or mostly typographic—whether the signature’s letters come from a ready-to-go font, they are customized versions of existing characters or they have been created from scratch.”

Design Your Own Logo with Existing Typefaces

When it comes to thinking about possible logo design ideas, think Ready-to-Wear vs. Haute Couture. When drafting your typographic Debonair logo, first try existing typefaces to see if they work. One snag might be duplicate fonts in similar brand, but there are several ways to customize the type and the logo. Don’t be afraid to start with something “off the shelf” when you design your logo and then add embellishments later.

Simple Modifications to Logo Design

A simple modification can enhance your logo design and make it unique. Try using backdrops, outlining, enclosures, underlining, special effects and more. Special effects can not only make your logo more distinctive, it can take a shy font and make it more outgoing. In addition to feathering or making it sharper, you might even consider slightly altering a letter or two of the company name.

Font Families: An overlooked Logo Design Tip

You’ve got a few fonts in mind. When experimenting with them, remember that most fonts have variations with different styles and weights. These “family” differences can change your logo’s personality within minutes. Consider each one, note that some fonts have changes in kerning and heavy lines and chose the one that best reflects your brand’s image, but have fun with it. You may discover a choice that you had not even considered.

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How to Design a Logo With Custom Letters

Logo design inspiration has you considering the possibility of creating your own font to use for Debonair. You’re almost assured of a unique design with letters you create from scratch. When you do design your own logo, Krause even suggests converting one letter of your typographic logo into a symbol in order to draw eyes and interest onto the logo. Customizing your letters takes time, but it might be necessary to create the image of your brand.

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Adding Embellishment to a Logo Design

“Decorative and pictorial embellishments can be used to amplify or redirect a word’s visual and thematic expressions,” says Krause who suggests add swirling extension geometric lines, swirls, and dashes as a way to create motion. Be careful not to focus too heavy on the embellishment that it completely overtakes your typographic logo. It should embellish not suffocate.

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Pictorial Add-ons within Logo Design

Pictorial add-ons should not be taken lightly, especially given what a simple, clean typographic logo can mean to a brand. Krause cautions, “The perfectly chosen typeface, when placed in the ideal textual context, can convey thematic messages with a precision, conviction and subtlety that even the most well-chosen word might envy.” That said, there is nothing wrong with experimenting. A simple circle over an ‘i’ can translate into a symbol used intermittently across collateral.

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