A DESIGNER'S ADVICE FOR MAKING YOUR OWN BRAND IDENTITY
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Making your own brand identity to get your business started is super common. Very few of us have the budgets to invest in professional branding in the early stages of business development.
Truth be told, your business will evolve quite a bit in that first year, so postponing the brand development until you have a clearer vision for your business can actually work in your favour.
So how should you go about making your own logo from scratch?
Stick with a typographic logo design. As a brand strategist and designer, my advice is keep it simple until you can properly invest in your brand. This will allow your future rebrand to feel more natural and intentional. But that’s just the beginning.
In this blog, I’ll tell you why a typographic logo design will benefit your business and how to make a versatile brand identity for free.
THE BENEFITS OF STARTING WITH A TYPOGRAPHIC LOGO DESIGN
If DIY branding is in the cards for you, the best thing you can do when designing your own logo is to keep it simple. Here are three reasons why a typographic logo design is going to benefit your small business.
#1 - Typographic Designs Always Look Professional
A poorly designed logo can really hinder your credibility. DIY logos are easy to spot and tell your potential customers that you don’t have it all together.. just yet.
Keeping that early brand simple with a typographic logo allows you to leverage the skills of the type designer.
And let’s be real, people pay BIG money for typographic logo designs. Calvin Klein, Vanity Fair, and Sony are just a handful of brands that have high brand equity and rely exclusively on typography for their logo designs.
#2 - Your Future Rebrand Will Feel More Natural
Don’t introduce an icon that is 100% going to change. It will only confuse your audience. By avoiding iconography, you’re able to rebrand in the future with ease because you’re introducing a graphic element, rather than replacing one.
#3 - It Allows You to Build Brand Awareness
Making your own logo using only typography in the beginning allows you to start building familiarity around your brand name. When you’re finally able to invest in branding, your new look will feel more like an evolution, instead of an overhaul.
HOW TO MAKE BRAND LOGO USING ONLY TYPOGRAPHY
You don’t need an icon, illustration, or other graphic to communicate your brand personality. Typography is already an effective and subtle communicator.
Imagine the magazine stand near you: all of those mastheads have been relying on typography to convey their brand experience to a potential reader.
Before you start making your own logo, you need to decide what personality and feeling you want your brand to have. But more importantly, what type of personality are your ideal customers seeking from a brand like yours?
HOW TO MAKE A LOGO WITHOUT PHOTOSHOP
You do not need Photoshop to make your own logo. If you’re making a logo design for free, all you need is a free Canva account.
First, you’ll want to find the right typeface(s) for your brand. The best place to look is inside Google Fonts. All of their fonts are free to license and nearly all of them are featured inside Canva.
Google Fonts is a super efficient platform to use when making your own brand identity because you can type in your business name and browse through their font library to see how your name shows up in each typeface. I start this way often myself.
I recommend typing your business name both in all caps as well and lowercase to see how your future logo may present in different formats.
As you do this, pay attention to the way the fonts make you feel and make note of the ones that stand out to you. To save a bit of time in this search, let me give you a brief lesson on font psychology so you can be somewhat strategic with your font choice.
A Mini Lesson on Font Psychology
When making your own logo from scratch, there are a seemingly endless typefaces available. Among them are different font families, each with their own unique set of characteristics that can help convey your brand personality. Here is a brief overview.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN LOGO DESIGN IN CANVA
Once you’ve found a few potential typefaces that feel aligned with your brand personality, create a new design in Canva that’s minimum 1500 x 1500 pixels. This will serve as your design playground.
There are many ways you can approach your logo design by changing how your letters appear. Consider these DIY logo ideas for your type-based design.
Do you want your business name to appear in ALL CAPS or lowercase?
Lowercase helps convey a brand that is gentle and approachable whereas a brand that is all caps appears more strong and confident.
Play around with font weights.
A thin font weight makes a brand feel more refined whereas a bold or blocky font can be perceived as strong and, if it’s rounder in form, even playful.
Do you want your name to have extra S P A C I N G between the letters?
To offset the grandeur of a logo that is all caps, spacing out the individual letters can help soften the brand’s image.
Play with font pairings for visual contrast.
Depending on how many words make up your brand name, try pairing two fonts together in your logo design. My advice here is to use two different typeface styles:
serif + sans serif
sans serif + script
sans serif + condensed font
You don’t want to use two fonts that are very similar. For my client at The River Pages, we opted for a script typeface alongside a serif for some, but not all, of their brand logo designs.
DESIGN TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR OWN BRAND IDENTITY
Design for Versatility
Just because you’re making your own logo with typography, doesn’t mean you can’t make a versatile brand. Your brand identity needs to be able to adapt to different logo placements and they all have different proportions.
Your business’s social media profiles need to be round whereas your website header is better suited for a wider design for optimal performance.
Here are the different logo orientations you should strive for when making your own brand:
wide logo design
stacked logo design
1:1 logo design (round or square)
brandmark (for scaling down)
BONUS: tagline alternative
How you approach these will depend on the name of your business and how many individual words you have to work with. For my client at Song Moon Press, their primary logo was a wide orientation. So we opted to stack their wordmark and created a round brandmark as well.
You need to make a logo design that can be scaled down and still be legible. This is typically the role of the brandmark in a brand identity. Sometimes the best approach for this is to opt for a monogram design.
A monogram design allows your logo to appear very small without sacrificing quality. A perfect logo to include at the bottom of social media posts.
Remember, a monogram logo design does not need to be an acronym for your business. For my client Pierre Carapetian Group, they use a PC monogram whereas my client Brenda Terry Co. just uses a B.
The point is, as you work on making your own logo, be sure to create a few iterations that will ensure you aren’t limited by your design.
This same rule applies to colour. Once you’ve created your brand colour palette, make sure you have a version of your logos in each of the brand colours to ensure you can adapt your brand to various colour backgrounds.
Choosing the Right Brand Colours
Colour will play a very valuable role in your brand identity. When it comes to colour selection, try not to let your own personal preferences hijack your choices.
Having a proper understanding of how different colours will resonate with the people you’re trying to attract is vital. Carefully consider your target audience, where they are emotionally and who they are personally to guide your colour curation.
The 3 keys for an effective brand colour palette are:
Colours that attract your ideal customer or client
Colours that reflect your brand personality
Colours that function well with one another
Before you embark on your colour selection process, I recommend reading The 5 Things to Know About Branding and Colours.
THE DOS AND DON’TS OF MAKING YOUR OWN BRAND
keep things simple; less really is more
make sure you have your logos in each of your brand colours
assign roles for your logos and colours (check the brand guidelines section of this blog)
export your logo designs as transparent PNGs
add drop shadows to your designs
don’t uppercase script typefaces
Making your own brand can be as simple as designing your own logo. Inside the Brand Identity Masterclass for Bootstrapping Small Businesses, you'll learn the easiest approach for designing your own brand with intention and simplicity. One that will allow you to debut your brand with confidence while leaving room for growth.
Jenny Henderson is a brand strategist and business mentor. She collaborates with service-based solopreneurs to design memorable brands that allow them to make a living doing what they love. Since 2020, her branding studio has become a place where small business owners learn to think like a brand.