Simple Logo Design: “Doc, Do I Need a Logo?”

A stethoscope against a light blue background

Can a non-designer create a simple logo design that works?

Absolutely!

Follow the steps below to learn how to create a simple word mark logo. This is a simple logo design style that’s used by some of the most powerful corporations in the world.

Related: Why a Fancy Logo is a Waste of Time and Money (and What You Need Instead)

Here’s why I wrote this article:

One of my course students asked whether or not she needed a logo for her business.

You might think that’s like asking a surgeon if you need surgery for a medical problem.

(Their answer? “Of course you do!”)

I’m here to tell you that you can get away with not having a logo.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about how to present your tagline or your business, though.

And it doesn’t mean you can just type out your business name in Helvetica and call it a day!

Instead, I want you to embrace a simple logo design style that’s used by brands like FedEx, Coca-Cola, Google, and more.

Simple logo design rule #1: Pick a brand font with personality

If you haven’t chosen a brand font yet, these two simple steps will help:

  1. Take five minutes to do my free brand personality quiz to discover what your basic brand personality is
  2. Read this post: Brand Fonts: Why Some Website Typeface Combinations Look So Stunning

Let’s imagine our friend Doug, who loves donuts and coffee so much, he’s going to open a little breakfast counter on Main Street that specializes in caffeinated, roasted beverages, and fragrant, fresh donuts.

Yummm …

Coffee and donuts illustrate simple logo design ideas

Doug doesn’t have the budget to hire a designer, but he wants to do something to distinguish his business. He starts by typing out his business name in Helvetica:

Simple logo design includes finding the right typeface

Boring!

So Doug looks at different typefaces to see if he can find one with a little more personality.

Related: Free Font Resources

He comes across Futura, and notices that the “o” in this typeface looks a lot like a nice, round donut — and the top view of a coffee cup!

Simple logo design starts with a typeface that fits your business

Perfect. His simple logo design now has a font with some personality — and some design potential.

Simple logo design rule #2: Tighten up the letter spacing

Futura straight out of the box doesn’t really work as a logo font.

That’s because most fonts are designed to be readable at text sizes. The weight, letter spacing, and overall design look great when used small.

What happens when you enlarge the font to use it logo sized?

When you enlarge the font, the spacing between letters is enlarged, too, and the letters look too spread out.

So Doug tightens up the letter spacing by squinching (technical term ;-)) the letters closer together.

Even word processing programs will let you do this: look for character or letter spacing settings.

Simple logo design works best with attention to design details like letter spacing

That’s what Doug gets after adjusting letter spacing. But he wants to take it up a notch.

What are his options? Read on …

Simple logo design rule #3: Give your design some zip

His simple logo design is looking better, but Doug wants more!

He decides to punch up the design a bit.

The easiest way to do this is to simply look at the letter forms. Are there letters — or whole words — that you could emphasize?

Can you make specific words or letters:

  • Larger
  • Bolder
  • ALL CAPS
  • Italicized
  • Colored?

Doug finds a brown color that reminds him of coffee, and a nice, warm orange that looks a little like the icing on his popular pumpkin-spice donut.

He emphasizes the round “o” letters by making them bold, and changing the color.

Simple logo design: Add emphasis by adding bold, italics, caps, or color to words or letters in your word mark logo

Finally! Doug has a simple logo design he’s proud of! It’s a memorable word mark logo he can associate with his business.

Designing your brand? Watch this free design workshop

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 10, 2011. Great design is evergreen, so trends haven’t changed much since then. Even so, it’s been updated with new resources and clearer information. Enjoy!

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

Explore my Ultimate Guide for How to Build Your Business Online ➡️

22 thoughts on “Simple Logo Design: “Doc, Do I Need a Logo?””

  1. Pamela,

    You are great at explaining the concept of design – I love fonts! Now, if you will excuse me, I have some headers that need to be reviewed after reading this post. : )

    Thank you – Theresa
    PS: Great webinar yesterday! I plan on purchasing your Big Brand System Design as soon as I finish another training program I’m working on. I particularly liked your thoughts on an “accent color”. I re-worked on some call to action buttons as a result and I really liked how they came out. Thank you!

  2. This is very helpful. I’ve created a few simple logos, and also used some online “logo generators.” I’ve found that looking at other logos is good inspiration. Color scheme is another key aspect, which you use to great effect in this example. If I can’t decide on a font, I’ll type it out several times in different fonts to see how it looks. Often the decision comes down to the shape of a specific letter or two.

    • If I can’t decide on a font, I’ll type it out several times in different fonts to see how it looks. Often the decision comes down to the shape of a specific letter or two.

      That’s exactly what I do! It’s a wonderful way to start, because — as you said — sometimes the letter shapes will suggest a solution.

  3. This is exactly how my first ‘logo’ came about years ago, and I still use my rainbow letters, too. I may have to play with ‘squinching’, though!

  4. I consider logo as the primary aspects of branding. I hope that one day my logo the fist would become popular and stand for the guy with an attitude.

    Also if you look at logo’s for nike and addidas they are forever remembered for their simplicity.

    Thanks for the lovely write up. I hope bloggers read this post and understand its importance.

  5. What a simple, and super valuable, piece of advice 🙂 I’ve seen so many small businesses stop at step 1, and not only does it look unappealing, but it just screams unprofessional. I personally think that a logo is a pretty big deal. It’s one of the basic building blocks to your brand, and if it’s not decent, people can’t help but think that’s a reflection of your business and how much you value it in general. Your tip is a fantastic way to get around this if your budget is tight!

    • You’re right, and it’s such a Catch-22 situation when you’re starting out. You need a logo but you can’t afford a professionally designed one. This solution is one way to create something that looks good until you can afford something else. It’s a place to start!

    • Hi Krista! Your comment got caught in my spam filter, and I just rescued it. Sorry for the delay!

      Your site header turned out great: lots of personality there. Necessity can be the driver behind a lot of quality design work. Nice job!

  6. I’d totally agree that most people could do a simple basic logo, but not all of them would see the “o” in Futura as a nice round one like a donut or even further, the “top of a coffee cup”.

    Also, they wouldn’t even think to adjust the tracking to tighten up tracking or kerning.

    That’s a designer’s eye looking at the logo and not someone using Microsoft Word.

Comments are closed.

Find Your Focus in 5

Build your online business faster. Discover the key milestones to focus on right now — for free!

Pin
Share
Email
Buffer
Tweet