5 Tips for Designing Your First Logo

Learnapalooza Chicago is a skill-sharing festival where friends and neighbors join together for a full day of learning and teaching about whatever topic they are passionate about. I partnered with Learnapalooza during their second festival of the summer to teach an introductory workshop to logo design at Next Door Cafe in Lakeview.

Being my first time participating in Learnapalooza, I signed on without knowing too much about the festival-goers and the overall experience, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to share my passion for design with an audience. And it was!

My hour-long workshop was met with a group of willing participants eager to develop their understanding of logo design and to build their personal, professional, or side-project brand. We started at the very beginning: What's a logo? A symbol or visual mark that an organization or person uses to identify their products, services, and overall culture or brand.

Although a logo can be part of a much larger visual identity, we just focused on that one mark and ways to make it most effective.

What makes it good?

1) Be intentional: Make conscious design decisions based on the appropriate tone and personality you're trying to convey. Use serif fonts for a more old-fashioned or conservative appeal, or sans-serif fonts for a more modern vibe. Consider color and its effect on your brand. Blue, for example, tends to create a sense of tranquility, while orange evokes energy.

2) Be clever: Find ways to tell your story in a less-than-obvious way. Explore options where an icon morphs with typography, or utilize a hidden symbol.

3) Limit detail: Your logo may one day end up on a billboard but also on a business card. Your mark should remain recognizable regardless of scale. Limit detail and varying line weight to keep your logo simple and scalable.

4) Don't rely on color: Your logo may look great with a splash of color, but what about when you screen print it in one-color on a t-shirt or if you only have the budget for a one-color printout? The mark should make sense even without a gradient or complimentary color to feature a vital element.

5) Avoid trends: Aim for timeless, not trendy. If you're devoting time and/or money to develop a logo, it should be built to last.

Thanks to Caro for encouraging me to teach, and the rest of the Learnapalooza team for organizing such a welcoming and educational program. For more info, check out learnapaloozachi.com or follow them on Twitter at @learnapalooza. Keep an eye out for details on their third and final festival of the summer on August 16 in Logan Square!