This guest post is by Liane of the Blog Design Team.
After almost three years of blogging, and about the same time spent discovering my addiction to graphic design, I’ve come to realize that both of my passion go hand in hand. Blogging and design is a match made in heaven. And my favorite project to work on? Logos, of course.
Sure, I’ve made designs for both online and offline business, but when a blogger knocks at my mail box, I give them special priority. That’s because, in truth, designing a blog logo is one of the trickiest things to do. Of course there would always be clients who’re easy to deal with and just give me free reign in creating the design (not recommended!), but more often than not, bloggers are particularly nitpicky (as you should be) at every step in the process. And I don’t blame them. I’ve been there, done that—I actually used my previous blog as a guinea pig for countless logo experiments.
In this post, I want to cover all the bases with regards to designing a blog logo—from its importance to a blog, to the process of creating your own. Even if you’re already happy with the logo you have right now, who knows? Within the next few months or years, you might revamp your blog or create a new blog altogether—and then, this guide ought to be useful.
What’s the big deal with a blog logo?
I know a lot of non-believers out there. These bloggers do away with logos and rely on other branding techniques such as their name as a brand (e.g. the blogs of Seth Godin and Matt Cutts). These cases are exceptions to the rule. If you are Matt Cutts or Seth Godin, would you even need a logo to begin with? In reality, the blogosphere is split on this issue. While some bloggers consider their own logo a requirement for branding, for others, it doesn’t really add any value.
At the end of the day, I think it’s a matter of personal choice whether or not you think a logo is something you want on your blog. But eventually, most bloggers realize they need to have one to help build their blogs and their reputations, for a number of reasons:
Among the sea of blogs out there, being noticed can be a challenge—especially for new blogs. And it won’t make it any easier if you just leave your blog’s name in plain text as your header. A logo is also useful once you start developing products and services, as using a logo in your ebook or videos, for example, looks much more credible than just using your domain name.
Blogs gain popularity the moment they’re recognized and remembered by an audience. This is where logos play an important role—they represent you, and make it easier for readers to connect to your blog.
Okay, maybe logo isn’t much of a factor to your authority. Though that doesn’t mean it should be completely set aside. In terms of authority, I think a good logo should act as an important symbol of your authority and credibility.
The makings of a great blog logo
There’s no concrete formula for creating a great blog logo.
Most of the time, it’s just the blogger’s and/or the designer’s discretion that comes into play. Being both a blogger and a designer gave me a good perspective on this issue, and based on the clients I’ve handled, these criteria have proven to be standard for every blog logo design.
A color scheme that works
Don’t just randomly use any color you believe is nice. Aside from the aesthetic value, remember that your logo has to be coordinated with your blog theme. Make sure you use not only the right color, but the right shade as well. Otherwise, it may seem a bit out of place or, as I said, uncoordinated.
There are some bloggers who do it the other way around: they start with a logo, then build their blog. I guess that makes you freer to conceptualize the logo. But of course, if this is the case, you have to consider the theme you plan on using for the blog anyway.
By the way, if you’re not good at making color schemes, try Adobe Kuler.
Blog logos usually follow the symbol-and-text design style, since they’re also used as the header image. This is why you’ll need one good, stand-out, typographical font. Of course, the type of font that’ll be suitable will vary with your blog niche (personal blogs tend to have more artsy fonts, while professional blogs tend to go for bolder, simpler typefaces) and your personal preferences. I suggest that you steer away from complicated fonts like grunge or macabre options unless that’s really the image you want to portray.
An original concept
This might sound obvious, but you have no idea how often bloggers want to replicate a logo of an A-list blogger. Some of the bloggers who want to emulate a popular blog’s logo seem to think that, as a prerequisite to being great, you have to look like someone who’s already great. But really, when did someone ever achieve greatness through imitation?
Always ask for your logo to be created at high resolution. That you if you want to make it smaller, you can just resize the original logo. The trouble arises when the resolution is poor, the logo’s too small, and it gets pixelized every time you make it bigger. Not a good thing!
Conveys your blog’s or your personality
It’s easy to get carried away by designing for the sake of an awesome design. But never forget that your logo is not a painting: it’s there to serve a purpose, and that is to be a symbol of your blog.
On creating your blog logo
Okay, so now that we’re done with the reasons and essentials of logo-making, it’s now time to get into the meat of the story—making the logo itself. You have two ways to make this happen. You can either do it yourself and take full control over what happens to your logo, or hire a designer to do it for you.
Whichever way you choose, I have prepared a set of guidelines that’ll make the process a bit easier—or at the very least, familiar—so you’ll know what to do and what not to.
The do-it-yourself (DIY) logo guide
A cold, hard truth first: you’ll need, at the very least, basic design and editing skills to do this. In my experience, bloggers who goes this route either have no spare funds to pay for the design service, or they’re confident that they can create the logo without professional help.
If you have only the most basic design skills, don’t worry. Who says logos should be complicated, or loaded with effects? they don’t! Simplicity is your best asset. If you have average-to-above average design skills, lucky you! However, if you don’t have any knowledge at all in the field of design, don’t lose hope yet. There are many fool-proof design software products out there: just search for a few basic tutorials, and you’ll get the hang of it.
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to design your own logo:
Step 1. Get hold of a Photoshop or a similar product
If you don’t have one, be resourceful and look for free online alternatives. Just Google for “free online alternatives for Photoshop” and you’ll soon find a ton of them.
Step 2. Conceptualize
What do you want your logo to look and feel like? If you’re stuck for ideas (like most clients I’ve met), it helps to check out competitor sites. Not that you should copy them, but this can help to get your creative juices flowing. Consider the elements of your design, the font you want to use, the colors you want to use, and even the logo’s dimensions—especially if you’ll use it as your header.
Step 3. Check for originality
This is the step even designers often forget. While this step is a no-brainer, it’s very important. You wouldn’t want to be accused of being a copy-cat, would you?
Step 4. Execute the design
This could be the hardest part, especially if you have no or little knowledge of design. Here’s a little tip though: create the logo one section at a time. Execute your symbol first, before you start thinking about the text, or vice versa. Make sure you use a good font. If you desire certain effects or elements, you can always Google for tutorials (it never fails to amaze me how people frustrate themselves with software when they could so easily just Google for a tutorial!).
Be sure to save the file every now and then. There’s nothing more frustrating about creating a design than losing unsaved changes, or worse: losing the whole file. Back-ups help too. Once you’re done, convert the logo to .png or .gif image files. These are the files that are best for use on the Web.
In creating your own design, you are obviously in full control of everything. The down-side is that your blog logo design is limited to your own designing ability (or lack thereof). Back when I ran a blogging tips blog, I never paid a cent to designers. I did everything on my own, and that’s how I acquired the skills of logo design. Who knows, you might end up on the same path too!
The hire-a-designer logo guide
If you don’t trust yourself with anything that has to do with art and design, I guess it’s best to leave these things in the hands of good designers. Of course, you’ll need to have some funds to take this route.
It’s a common misconception that hiring a designer means that you need to shell out hundreds of bucks. In reality, the competition in the design industry makes the pricing competitive. In fact, you can have your own professional logo designed for under $100. So really, if you believe a great logo is a great investment (which is true), then justifying the fee isn’t really an issue.
If you plan on hiring a designer, or using the services of a design company, here are a few pointers that you should consider:
Always check the designer’s portfolio samples
Designers often use a set of styles that can be seen in action through their portfolio. It’s best if you check their previous work to ensure that you can trust them to make your logo to a standard that you’ll be happy with.
Ask to see client testimonials
From a designer’s perspective, I’d say trust the portfolio more than the testimonial. We all know stories on how testimonials can sometimes be manipulated, though there are of course designers that have genuinely good feedback for their excellent service. Nevertheless, it’s at least a good thing to make sure that clients speak highly of the designer. If you can, see if you can find any familiar names (or research them) to make sure that the testimonials are authentic.
Read the design policy, and terms and conditions
How will the designer create your design? How fast will they design it? What are the packages or offerings involved? What are the terms for revisions? Before you order, make sure that you know how the designer operates and how much the finished product will cost you (watch out for hidden fees!). If it’s a good design service then you don’t need to dig around their pages to figure out how the process will work. It should be transparent.
When you order, be specific about details and/or instructions
There are still a number of clients out there who provide one or two sentences of “instructions” and then expect the designer to come up with a design that’ll blow their minds. Let’s face it: designers are not psychics! They only do what they’re told to do (because it’s all about what the client wants) and would hesitate to venture beyond those instructions. Of course, you can always say to your designer, “I’ll let you do whatever you want,” but that’s the most frustrating instruction ever! It’s always better if you have a clear vision for your logo. It makes our job easier, it speeds up the process, and it so much lessens the need for revisions.
If you can’t tell the designer what to do, at the very least tell them what not to do
Okay, so maybe you’re really out of ideas. There’s one thing a designer will at least be grateful for—if you remind him or her of the things you don’t want to see in your logo. Then at least they’ll be aware of the major no-no’s of the design and can avoid obvious mistakes.
For revisions, make up your mind, and be nitpicky
It’s stressful if a client keeps on changing his or her mind about the design. First, it’s counter-productive. But you’ll also be very lucky if the design service offers unlimited revisions—if not, ongoing revisions will likely cost you extra. Be detail-specific if you ask for revisions. Trust me: your designer will want to get the job done to your satsifaction as soon as possible.
Happy with your design?
Thank your designer, and give them a testimonial. Not happy with your design? Perhaps you’ve chosen a design service that offer a second concept re-design, or a 100% refund policy. Again, this explains why it’s better to pick design services that are credible, reachable, and accountable.
Put your logo first
Whether you design it yourself or hire someone to help, a good blog logo can deliver a lot of benefits in the long run. It doesn’t really have to be expensive—all that matters is that you get to build a symbol of what your blog is all about.
Last but not least, remember that logos do not posses any magical abilities, so don’t expect that having one will immediately catapult you to success. You need to work hard for your logo and brand to become known, not the other way around.
If you have any logo-making stories, insights, of nightmares, I’d love to here about them in the comments.
Liane (blogger of 3 years) is now the Founder and Team Head of the Blog Design Team, the design service behind every blog and blog businesses. And btw, she’s just 18 :) Follow her in Twitter @HeyLiane.
I’ve been struggling to come up with a logo and branding in general for months now. Thanks for the inspiration – I’m going to give it another shot! Or hire someone to do it for me…
I also love http://www.colourlovers.com/palettes for color schemes.
I would usually use Adobe Kuler but yes, ColourLovers is a good place too.
Thank you for this post! I spent months trying to conceptualize a logo for Soul Munchies. I had an idea in my head but I was never able to put it down on paper. I have very limited design skills so I sat on it until my husband had time to work on it with me. When we were in the process of creating the logo, I searched and searched for helpful hints like the ones you have here and couldn’t find any! Looking at this now, I’m pleased with what we came up with and how we did it. Now – if I could only figure out how to use it better on the site itself!
It comes with the design process Crystal :-) Like I said, before creating the logo you should note down the specifics of the design to make it compatible with your site (like dimensions, colors, etc). But at least the hard part’s over- your logo’s already done :)
Thanks for the timely (and comprehensive) post. I have started having an issue with my blog logo. Thanks.
Great article, Liane :) Especially as this is where I’m currently at and just thinking about getting a logo.
I think perhaps it gives more credibility to have a professional looking logo and also a nicely designed website.
This is an useful post. I have just started a food/cooking blog and has been going around thinking what my logo should be. Though I have not come up with one but think these tips can be handy.
However towards the end I always believe that one need to be little creative to come up with a decent logo.
Lets see how it goes for me :)
Logos are needed. I created mine a few weeks ago based on the letter “m”. It’s my first try to creating a logo for myself. Hahaha.
Well that’s always a good start. Goodluck Mike! :)
There’s a simple cure for the resolution issue: Instead of .jpeg or .gif, use a .png. If you’re lucky enough to have Fireworks or have a designer with Fireworks, it’s an extremely easy process. I design my logos in Illustrator, then open them in Fireworks and save as a .png. The .png file is a vector and can be opened either in Fireworks or in Photoshop and re-sized (just make sure you don’t save over your original file). I use them on the web or in Office documents (like my email signature).
It’s really cool, and it has the added benefit of having a completely transparent background.
That’s true. We save most of our designs in .png to better preserve the quality (though unless client specifically requests for other formats).
Saving in vector is definitely a must especially if you want large scale versions in the future.
Great note, Charles- super handy, and I’ll be using this bit of helpful info soon. Kudos to Liane for a wonderful post!
I got a logo for my business and its what I want people to see once they reach my site..so if there out and about online and see it else where..then they will know its me..
“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”
I’m a designer and helping small businesses, startups and blogs are something of a specialty for me.
Some samples: http://derekoscarson.carbonmade.com/
My blog: http://derekoscarson.posterous.com/
I’d be happy to talk with anyone – thanks!
Looking for logo designer who can create $100 logo. I have my doubts that I can get quality for this amount but Liane seems to know what she is talking about. My site needs a logo and a header and good work will lead to more work I have available on 26 other sites.
email me with portfolio link if anyone has interest.
Chris, the Blog Design Team does logos for only $49 :) I guess that’ll be a $51 savings from your budget. Quality? Then feel free to check our portfolio anytime :)
I hired a designer to design my logo for my blogs. Around 20-25USD per logo. But the one I use on my cypherhackz.net was designed by myself. :)
I belive blog logo is last thing to think about. If you have no content, then you are not getting readers whatever logo you have. Logo will not bring you visitors and readers. Those who read RSS subscriptions do not see the logo.
Pointless post. Self-promoting of designer (team). Is there any Dislike button?
I see your argument there. Well on my side I’ve always believed that one should write out of experience. And right now, that’s my experience. It’s like saying an SEO guy shouldn’t guest post about SEO because his only goal is to promote his site. But really, that’s the very essence of guest posting and I honestly am promoting my site here. Wouldn’t anyone want the same thing?
Plus, I see a lot of people found this useful. If you think not, then I respect that.
Logos is very important for blogs. For music sites its realy helpful to become famous.
this has been a challenge for me. I like the Kuler color schemes. For a blog, do you have a sense of what is working best, for keeping visitors: light background or dark? May depend on your demographics, to.
That’s an interesting question Kai.
I don’t really know if it’s the right answer, but the trend now is that more and more people would want a cleaner, more professional vibe. A little bit minimalistic I’d say. Logos don’t keep visitors (in my opinion), they just help visitors remember you. So I guess it’s better to keep it simple but bold. Nothing to over-the-top.
Very thorough guides here, Liane.
There are a plethora of opportunities out there for those who choose to have their logo professionally designed. The variance in pricing vs. quality just depends on where you look. What one company may charge $1,000+ for, another may charge $100 for.
Online (not affiliate link attached), one of the best companies I’ve found for Logo Design is the Logo Company. (thelogocompany.net). For $149, the quality of their work is remarkable. They also provide the buyer with up to 4-7 initial logo designs for consideration, and unlimited revisions…along with providing the file in many different formats.
Bear in mind, the logo can be provided in a TON of different formats, that can be utilized both online and offline: t-shirt/screen printing, etc. If you would one day like to do something like Shoemoney does, with his T-shirts, be sure to THINK ahead in your logo design choice and pursuit. File formats that I can think of off the top of my head include: AI/BMP/EPS/GIF/JPG/PCX/PDF/PNG/TIFF
I’d HIGHLY recommend getting the logo in as many formats as possible, simply because of the wide array of applications–especially if you are hoping to treat your blog like a business, you will want to have these formats readily available ‘just in case’, you decide to venture somewhere down the road in your blog marketing.
Also, consider “crowdsourcing” via a website like CrowdSPRING. The base line price for a logo there is $200, however, you can tap into a giant worldwide pool of very talented creatives.
Wish you all the best!
To hired a designer really takes cost I think. I would rather create it by myself. By the way, this is a nice post also a nice information. thank you for posting this. ;)
There are some bloggers who can afford the costs but choose to do their logos on their own – that I think is even better seeing that nothing beats one’s own imagination for his/her own blog.
There are successful sites with bad design and there are many well designed sites that are simply awful. Content is always king. That said, good design lends credibility to your work and builds immediate trust with new readers. And more often than not, bad design and bad content go hand in hand.
Enjoyed the tips.
A great free graphics program is the GIMP. Good article.
and Aviary too, if I may add :)
Excellent advice Liane. With the rapid growth of blogging, so many people are just plain lazy using standard unedited themes. The basis principles of good design still apply, and having a great logo is paramount.
I’ve made mine in 15 minutes as it’s so simple. But I love it, it reflects me perfectly!
Branding and logo design is EXTREEEEMELY important! Thanks for the tips, just about to get into this blog situation…
I very recently went through the whole logo creation thing myself…
One thing I noticed when looking around at the logos from other companies / blogs / websites, is that the most successful companies have very simple logos with just 1 or 2 or 3 solid colors. No fading colors, nothing 3-dimensional, nothing fancy. If you want examples, just think of any big company or website – Walmart, Apple, ProBlogger.net… So, looking at the logos of other successful companies, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s important to stay simple. And, in my humble opinion, I think that’s good news because it means that logos can be done by oneself, OR at least shouldn’t cost much to have one done.
Something else – a useful resource I found (and used) is FlamingText.com (although it’s easy to get carried away on there and make something too fancy :P
Whizz through some home pages with Stumbleupon and you’ll see that everything that Liane says is true – you’ll be reluctant to even glance at a blog with poor design. Poor design doesn’t mean poor content though. Darren himself could do with overhauling the design of Problogger, but as his content is excellent it doesn’t matter too much.
Good article. I have several blogs and none of them have logos. I know my most recent site needs one, but you’ve made me reconsider adding logos to my older ones… especially the ones that generate revenue
This is a great article, I think that people do not realize the importance of branding. I am not going to to promote myself as I think that is horribly uncool and can’t stand when folks do that. I have created logos for good size well known clients and the difference between them and the small players is they know the importance of their brand. Cheers for the article!
I have been looking for a guide like this!! Thank you! I recently launched a new blog and am in desperate need of DIY design tips.
Excellent Liane, its really useful. I normally outsource my logos in fiverr.
Detailed post for sure, but you are so far off base for many of your ‘points’ and ‘tips’ it’s frightening. Your ‘The hire-a-designer logo guide’ is particularly off putting.
Do you really believe you can get a ‘professional logo design’ for under $100? What is your definition of professional? People bandy around professional like it’s a valued and understood term, in fact it means nothing, it’s more subjective than design. What you should be focusing on is overall ‘experience’ and ‘style’, not ‘professional’.
Like anything else in this world, you do get what you pay for, and logo and identity design is no different. It’s not about getting the cheapest logo with the most revisions. That’s for the ‘I want everything for nothing outlay’ mentality, IE, people who are just not prepared to invest in the success of their own identity and image. If you don’t take your own business or company seriously, then be all means, opt for a cheap and quick $100 logo. If you do take your company image seriously, then expect to find a experienced logo or identity designer, not one who’s portfolio looks like it has been put together with Word and Powerpoint.
This guest post is just a poor excuse for a way to direct unknowing people to the tragedy of cheap $100 logo sites. A real let down for ProBlogger.
I used a professional to make my logo. He gave 3 choices to choose from after I told him what I wanted and I was very happy with the final product. I’m no designer, so it was a great weight of me mind.
Great article here – SO thorough and FULL of awesome information.
I am an admitted Adobe Kuler addict. :) MyFonts.com addict, too. LOL.
Same here with MyFonts.com! Though I honestly forgot to mention that. Haha.
Branding is crucial for any advanced blog system to succeed. For our latest launch in Snoggle Media I have to say building up a tight branding and support system has been nothing but difficult grind work. Thankfully I love the job and I find myself enjoying every moment of the work!
No self-respecting designer with TALENT and EXPERIENCE will make you a logo for $100. Yes, you do have to “shell out hundreds of dollars” for a good logo. Do you even know what goes into a successful logo design? Do you know how much time and effort it requires to get enough experience, creativity, originality, and know-how for something like that?
Give me a break. There are too many “designers” misleading clients with posts and opinions like this. With all due respect, you have no idea what you’re talking about.
By the way, you use Illustrator to make logos, not Photoshop – this is not a minor difference.
I think the best thing that could make a blog logo the greatest is simplicity. Keep it simple. As long as the logo represents the blog’s objectives and the color matches the blog color, then there is no need to make it really extravagant.
I’d go for simplicity too as long as my client doesn’t think the other way around :)
As a graphic designer (20 yrs experience) who loves to design logos take it from me this is a great ‘starting point’ for anyone interested in getting a logo designed.
I would strongly recommend you think more about your brand positioning – or as Lianne called it, personality. So much of the other design elements come out of this concept.
Do you want a warm/cold business/tech/urban/organic feel are just a few of the positioning concepts you need to think about.
More advanced brand positioning are thought leader / design professional / ….etc you get the drift.
Another point here is how you want your brand to be positioned against your key competitors. When you line up against other brands what will people think?
Most major consumer products do alot of research around this.
Hope that helps!
These are such great tips. It’s so important to have a fitting logo that is versatile and professional.
I have done the fiverr and the 99 designs and my latest efforts for a new site I have just launched were done on picnik and it was free. My advice keep clear of fiverr if you have ni budget get creative with ideas in this post and use Photoshop or a free online editor like picnik or pixlr.
Creating a logo is one of the biggest challenges for anyone with a business. There is a lot to consider because it isn’t -just- a logo it is the basis of your whole brand.
I agree :)
Your post today inspired me to write about logos to my followers, and it even made me think that we should help one another. I linked back to your helpful tips and asked others how they see their logo? and how they see mine? based on what we know about one another. I need to find my Gutsy logo, especially as a writer approaching agents and editors. My next step is waiting. Thanks Liane, and I can’t believe you can help build a logo for such a low fee.
You mean brainstorming for a logo concept??? Sure I’d love to help! Heading over to your site now :)
Awesome to see that this article about logo’s doesn’t have any pictures, haha!
Stefan, I would gladly show logos but you see I can’t exactly ‘show’ the process of designing one since it’s not something like a step-by-step tutorial that you follow. This post shows the general picture of creating a logo, and not necessarily the technical aspects of doing it (since it varies for every kind of design).
If you like a real tutorial (as in for Photoshop) let me know what logo you have in mind and I could help :)
I think hiring someone to create our company’s logo is the best bet. I guess we’re just not as creative to do one on our own. Are there recommendations on any actual designers?
Great advice on branding a blog with Logo.
I love photoshop and created a logo for my blog recently. It look good ( at least so far).
What software you think the best to create a logo?
Of course I’m a bit biased (try the Blog Design Team! haha). But anyway, there are thousands of great designers out there. It’s best to figure out your budget first and then look out for a designer who suites that budget and gives you the best run for your money ;)
Oops. Meant that for the comment above :P
@Naveen: if youu have Photoshop, it’s fine. Illustrator is the best (or any software that produces vector/rescalable graphics)
wow. excellent guide to create a logo.
I’ll follow your advice. because as I am doing now is very difficult.
I’m new in graphic design so your article is just what I need.
Still working on creating my header/logo. I’m thinking of using a picture of myself in it as well as good typography to help brand myself. Still a work in progress though.
I went with the “DIY” route. On one hand, I think really like it- but on the other, maybe it’s too fussy/complicated. It does sum up my blog pretty well, IMO. You can look at it and get a pretty good idea of what my blog is about (large family life- the original image had 8 children and I used graphic software to add another person to it so it has 9 children.)
How does one determine what a “good” logo is? Or the right fit? Do you think your avatar should be your logo?
On #how to determine what a good logo is: I think I’ve talked about this in the post. Any specific question perhaps? :)
On #avatar being your logo: well some people use this, but I wouldn’t really suggest that. I think it’s always better for blogs to have human face values rather than just logos. A blog is not a blog without a living, breathing human blogger right? ;)
Everyone may need a logo for their blog , but not a must to get a blog designer, you may get do it by yourself. Until you do popular then you may need a professional logo. Logo help customer to easy recognize you and know what you blog about and what you sell. All your image will be identify by the logo.
Logo just like a brand name.