So you've put a lot of hours into building up your business. You have a clear idea of who your clients will be and what areas you're going to employ for marketing techniques. Your mission statement is printed out and set in front of you, and you're ready to start this journey. Only one thing is missing: the logo.
Your logo should tell your customers who you are and what you can offer. It needs to be memorable, it needs to stand out, and it needs to send a clear message. That's a lot of pressure on something that can be quite simple and small, but don't freak out. We're about to show you how you can use different logo design elements to create a kickass iconic brand identity, and we're going to include suggestions as to what to do with 99 of them.
Each example of graphic design, whether a simple logo or a full-page advertising spread in a magazine, includes a number of different elements. Leaving aside "elements" as the basic tenets on which a design is built, any given design will include a number of elements. What do they all boil down to? "Everything is ultimately a shape," says the website Creative Market, "so you must always think in terms of how the various elements of your design are creating shapes, and how those shapes are interacting."
Design elements include everything from the basic shape you choose for you logo, all the way to the color scheme and font choice. In this article, we're going to focus on the wide, wide variety of shapes that can play into your logo design. In case you missed that, there is a huge range of things you can choose from, and it can get overwhelming when you're first starting out. Why is your choice so important?
Everyone can think of logos that really stand out to them. Things that are iconic and recognized across the nation, or even worldwide. Later on you'll see a number of examples. What do these instantly-recognizable logos do for the company?
Creating a logo that is memorable and that stands out is incredibly important for branding purposes. Thebalance.com, a marketing website defines "brand identity" as "all the components related to a product, service, company or person." So your choice of logo is ideally going to tell your customers a lot about you. As your reputation grows, that's what will come to mind when your clients see your logo.
Your logo and your reputation are inextricably linked. It's as simple as that. So, with that heavy responsibility weighing on your shoulders -
There are tons of how-to articles and tutorials out there for the basics of designing a business logo, so whether you are a professional designer or a beginner, you should be well equipped when it comes to the actual process of designing your logo. That said, most tutorials advise starting out with a brainstorming session, going through some possible ideas and doodling your own. Looking at iconic logos and figuring out what appeals to you and why is an integral part of this, but don't be content just to piggy-back on a successful logo design. "Combining elements and adding your own creative ideas to your design will make the logo design completely your own," says the book 999 Logo Design Elements. So don't be afraid to color outside the lines, so to speak.
Are you ready for this? Get your paper and pencil, and start looking for inspiration.
Animals are a perennial favorite when it comes to logo design. There's an added element of instant appeal to the customer, and the choice of animal can say a lot about the company. If choosing an animal for a logo , you'll probably want to look for animals that are easily rendered into simple images. That being said, you might be surprised at how many variations there are on basic animal shapes. The great thing about sticking with a simple rendition is the effective use of negative space, which can really come in handy with a logo that is going to be frequently replicated in a variety of sizes.
Foxes, wolves, and other wild dogs: Foxes and wolves are very popular logo design, and add a note of sleekness. There's a definite trend towards using them in a lot of product designs, as well, and they're very high-profile right now.
Cats: Ever popular with all corners of the internet, cats lend themselves to a wide variety of business ideas. They give a note of familiarity and intelligence, and can be rendered very simply. This example is classy, minimalist, and a great use of negative space.
Lions, tigers, pumas, panthers: Looking for something that speaks of strength or loyalty? A lion could be the right choice.
Bears: With a variety of connotations from power (think bared teeth) to cuddly (Smokey the Bear comes to mind) bears can be highly adaptable as logo elements. The World Wildlife Fund logo is a great example of an animal logo that uses negative space.
Birds: A very classic choice with a wide variety.
Sheep, cows, chickens, llamas, alpacas: Farm animals in general are instantly recognizable and relatable for most potential clients, and if you're looking for a cute rendition of an animal for your logo, look no further than this category.
Horses: Horses give a feeling of a business that is fast and reliable at what they do.
Hedgehogs, pangolins, zebras, otters, and other slightly oddball animals: A great way to express your uniqueness as a company is to choose a logo mascot that isn't commonly found.
Fish, whales, sharks, dolphins, octopi and other sea creatures: Whales, sharks, dolphins, octopi, and even the occasional narwhale may show up with any business related to the ocean.
Butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects: The inclusion of winged creatures in general tends to add a little whimsy to a design, so if that's what you're looking for, this is a good place to start.
Unicorns, mermaids, dragons, and other mythical creatures: A classic example of this are the ever-increasing variations on the Starbucks logo, which utilizes a siren.
Deer: Stags are more typically found in design layouts, and lend a nobility to a logo. A good example is the John Deere logo.
Speaking of antlers..
These two things may not seem to go together all that well at first look. So what are they doing under the same subheading? Well, they have two things in common: you can put them on anything for an immediate extra spark of interest to the design (literally crowning it), and they both make whatever they're on look extra fabulous.
Crowns: There are a lot of ways you can go with this. An ornate, more detailed crown can give a very rich, high-class feel to a logo. If you want to let your clients know that you're the tops at what you do, this would be a great element to include. Hallmark, of course, is a classic example of a well-known logo that utilizes a crown. It's simple and very recognizable.
As a common trend today is hand-drawn elements, however, an even more simple variation may be something to think about.
Antlers: Antlers can also be rendered as simply or as complex as you like, or as fits your brand image. There's a rusticism to them that is very appealing, and they have a nice framing effect to a business name or slogan as well. They're popularly combined with florals.
Both crowns and antlers can worked into a design, even if they don't seem to fit at first sight. So when you're scribbling your design ideas on your piece of paper, try doing a little hand-drawn set of antlers or a crown on top, and see where it might take you.
Wordmark: A wordmark logo is one that involves a typographic presentation of the company name. Of course, there can be a lot of design involved within that typography. Especially when it comes to negative space, which is automatically going to be built into the word.
This is a great one that combines a unique font and negative space to create a wordmark. Here's another with a clever twist.
Lettermark: A lettermark logo , similar to a wordmark, is one that uses typography to simultaneously make its mark on the consciousness of the intended audience as an image, and also includes a few letters, such as the initials of a company name. IBM is an example.
Fonts: With such a wide range of font choices to choose from, there may be some interesting renditions of letters that are perfect for your logo.
Triangles, hexagons, octagons, squares, circles, hearts, stars, and other shapes: These may seem like they're too basic to add much to the design, but in fact they're a great starting point. They can give you a field to build in, be incorporated into the background, or set the basic shape that the other elements you choose will fill.
Shape combinations: By combining basic shapes, you can make stylized, simplified versions other things, like animals and foods.
Geometric animals: Definitely a trend right now, and a cool, origami-inspired look that will give your logo a boho feel.
Geometric texture fill: Also on trend, a texture-filled basic geometric shape can be a statement all on its own.
These can be especially arresting and appealing to the eye if they are hand-drawn elements. Again, simple can be better when it comes to this kind of logo. Florals aren't just a matter of flowers, either. We're talking about plants and foliage in general. Variations on leaves are popular as stand-alone elements, and things like dandelions have a lot of lasting appeal. That said, don't forget about the flowers.
Roses: A very classy choice for a logo element, roses usually give a vintage feel to a design.
Daisies: If you're looking for something sweet and simple, this is a classic direction.
Dandelions: Simple to draw, easy to make your own, and very appealing as a design element.
Leaves: Another possibility with enormous variety. Take a hint from nature and use a real leaf as a model, or draw your own. A few simple lines and you'll have a quick basis for the element.
Succulents and cacti: Unique, aesthetic, and easily rendered.
Source: istock.com/Lim Guik Khuan
Shields: Adding a feeling of class and nobility to your design, shields are a great basis for a design, and a lot can be added to them while keeping the basic shape as a background.
Crests: An endlessly customizable option, crests lend themselves well to at least four different elements that can be combined to really give your customer a good idea of what your company is about. This might make it a little easier for you, if you're having trouble boiling your choices down to just one or two when it comes to your logo, but it's easy to get a little complicated since there's so much room.
Abstract: There are basically no rules with abstract, so just remember to keep this simple. Think something like the Pepsi logo.
Partial element: Think taking an element that you like and using just a portion of it, like the top half. Colorblock: Maybe your color choices are what you really like about your design. If that's the case, maybe colorblock is the choice for you.
Swooshes: A classic example of a swoosh is of course the Nike symbol. If you go looking for other examples, you'll definitely find them, sometimes where you're not even expecting them. It's a very basic element that can still say a lot.
There's a lot of leeway when it comes to framing. You could have another element, like a small image, and frame that, or your brand name. Framing gives a really nice finished feel to a logo, and gives you another chance to express your creativity.
Source: istock.com/Ekaterina Romanova
Circular wreaths: Any type of line, leaves, vines, et al., that you choose, as long as it completely encapsulates your company name.
Partial wreaths: Much like above, except it may not entirely surround the element in the middle. Florals or ivy: A lovely, attractive option for wreathing your logo.
Picture frame: The look of a Polaroid picture is very aesthetically appealing, as well as on trend.
Dotted, dots, straight, curved, looping: Basically, anything kind of line you can think of. These are also great framing elements, or for giving you a demarcation point between the image portion of your logo and the typography.
Arrows: A popular trend right now, arrows are basically lines with extra lines. They can be as simple or as complex as you like, and the irregular, handmade look is a great aesthetic.
Source: istock.com/Ekaterina Romanova
Sun, moon, stars, planets, and comets: Sure to give your design an epic feel. Mountains: Rendered tiny and hand-drawn or as a background for your business name, snow-capped or desert-like dunes, mountains are an interesting possibility.Oceans and waves: Oceans may be a little hard to render into a logo on their own, but the motion of the waves can definitely give you inspiration.
Oaks, palms, maples, and other trees: These can look especially impressive when hand drawn or letter-pressed.
Does your business lend itself easily to a certain iconic image? It might have a direct connection, depending on what your wares and services are. Or there might be something about an object that just feels right, or that means something to you personally. Either way, here are a few possibilities to consider.
Paper airplanes, light bulbs, feathers, sailboats: These choices may seem somewhat random - and they are - but they have a definite aesthetic appeal, can be used for a variety of businesses, and can also be rendered simply. Ice cream, pizza, pineapples, and other food: Everyone relates to food-based choices, right? Pineapples especially are found in a lot of design these days, but again, there is a lot of room for variety.
Classic cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and other vehicles: These can definitely give a logo a kitschy, vintage feel.
Hand-drawn element choices: If you comb through design markets or Pinterest boards, you'll see a lot of vector image packs that advertise themselves as hand drawn or handmade. Just like homemade meals tend to be more appealing than what you can order at your local Denny's, hand drawn design has a special appeal to it that is impossible to ignore. Though it depends to a large extent on whether or not it is appropriate for your business and the image you desire to project, choosing a hand drawn element could be a good option for you. It tends to give the logo a more personal touch, which is useful when it comes to drawing in customers, who want to feel that they are going to be treated as individuals by you or your company.
No matter which way you decide to go with your branding decisions, the journey to get there may tell you some surprising things about your business, what values you want it to reflect, and even about yourself. With so many options, take your time and experiment. At the end of your logo journey, your very own kickass iconic brand awaits.