Every business needs a logo to communicate their product or service to consumers. Use these 7 easy steps to create a bold, custom logo for your small business.
Every business needs a visual identity, and the quickest way to establish one is through your logo. Creating a logo can be a lot easier than you expect; if you know how you want to present your business, the path between you and a long-lasting mark will be short.
Follow these steps in Illustrator to create your own simple but useful logo. We’ll use a real estate business as an example, but the steps apply to any field.
1. Sketch Some Ideas
You might be thinking, “But I’m not an artist!” Fear not. Sketching is something anyone can do, and it’s the most direct path from your brain to reality. It gets ideas out of your head and in front of your eyes, so you can see what you’re thinking.
Don’t worry about drawing a perfect sketch. We’ll end up creating shapes in the computer where things are mathematically perfect. Just get some things on paper so you can see where you want to go.
For this guide, I sketched a logo for a business called Home Spot Realtors. Does it look artistic? Doubtful! That’s the point – I just needed to get the idea out of the noggin.
Some prompts for sketching:
- Write the initials of your business name, then seen how the letters can connect or intertwine.
- Draw a pictogram of the service you offer, or of a tool used in your line of work.
- If you’re in a type of business where your location is part of your identity, use a familiar, representative icon, or landmark, from the area. If it’s a common thing in your area, put a personal spin on it.
2. Use Shapes to Create the Base
Let’s look at how we can create the shapes that will comprise our logo by using the Shapes tool. For an introduction or a refresher, use this guide on the Shapes tool to get up to speed.
Create a new file. I like to set up logo files as a 8×8 inch square. It helps to view your logo in a uniform environment so that you can determine the right weights and balances. You can import your sketch and put it off to the side of the artboard for visual reference, or make it a template for exact tracing. For this, we’ll use it as a loose guide since the sketch is loose.
Simply go to File > Place, then find your sketch file and put it where you want. Here’s my canvas.
To make the outline, or outer shell, hit L on the keyboard to select the Ellipse tool. You can also skim down the Tools menu, find Shapes (the default tool is Marquee, so look for a square), then click and hold for the fly-out menu to show the different options.
Tip: I like to keep often-used menus open and ready by clicking and holding the tool, then clicking the arrowed tab on the right side of the options to pop it out.
Select black fill and no outline in the Color palette, then hold Shift, click, and drag a big circle filling the canvas. Holding Shift will ensure a perfect circle.
For the house shape, make the fill color white with no outline. Then hit M on the keyboard, or select the Marquee tool, and drag a square that fills the circle nicely. You can adjust later.
For the roof of the house, select the Polygon tool, again from the Shapes tools menu, and click once on the canvas. Enter ‘3’ in the Sides field and hit enter.
After some squashing and shaping, we end up with this collection of shapes based on our sketch.
Not too far-off from the original vision, but we’ll refine it in the steps below.
3. Align,Then Use Pathfinder to Create Solid Shapes
At this point I like to turn the blacks to 70-80% gray. This helps the shapes look less severe, so we can see everything better.
Now we’ll use the Align menu to line everything up so it’s nicely balanced. Click on Menu, then click on Align to open the window. Since our shape is so basic still, we can select them all and hit the Horizontal Align Center button. This will center the shapes across the horizontal space, but on a vertical axis. Read up on the align tool across all Adobe apps in this guide.
Use the Pathfinder menu to join the house shapes for a single solid house shape. Use this guide to brush up or acquaint yourself with the Pathfinder. Go to Menu and select Pathfinder to open the window. Select the roof shape and the square, then hit the Unite button under Shape Modes.
Now we have a solid circle, on a solid house shape, balanced within a circular environment.
4. Use Rounded Corners to Finesse
To smooth out the points and basic shapes we’ll round the corners slightly, using the Corners menu. To get a comprehensive understanding of this tool, use this guide on Rounded Corners. Hit A to activate the Direct Selection Tool (the white arrow), and select the house.
Click Window at the top of the screen and make sure Control is checked. Click on one of the blue dots inside the corners of the shape. In the Corners field, enter .07 (this number is arbitrary – your results are dependent on the image size).
This will create a subtle but friendlier shape for our little house.
5. Add Type to Personalize
Now we can add some text to make the logo ours. Hit T to activate the Type tool. Create a text box by click-dragging over the area where you want it. Choose a font and size appropriately.
For our guide I chose the trusty Futura Bold in white, and filled the inner circle with HS for “Home Spot.” After some tweaking it sits where I want.
Don’t worry about aligning, as text boxes are weighted visually. The letters include their own spacing which makes auto-alignment nearly impossible. You’ll just have to eyeball it and judge the visual weight against your design.
Now we have this:
6. Make Final Adjustments
Now that I have at the logo with all the pieces present, I’ll adjust and tweak it until it’s balanced. Here are a few concepts to consider:
- Visual weight
I’ll adjust the size of the main circle, and the placement of the elements with the house, as well as the house itself. Small tweaks can mean the difference between a simple, strong logo and a distractingly off-balance logo. So take your time, take breaks, look at it again, and tweak until you’re happy.
7. Add Color to Finish
For the finishing touch, we add some color. We have very few components here, so it will be easy. If you’ve already done brand exploration and come up with your colors, you’re practically finished.
If you need ideas, we have an expansive guide for picking color combinations. From this guide, I like #4 for a real estate company. It has some strong but friendly earth tones that communicate strength and longevity – stuff you want in a house.
The Hex codes are listed on the image. Select the piece of your logo you wish to change, and double-click the fill color in the color palette to open the Color Picker window. In the field with hash marks at the bottom, enter the code for the color you like.
Do the same for the rest of the components and color your logo to your liking.
You can explore many ways to add texture, gradient and shading to accent your logo in different environments, but a basic color palette is usually best for the official version.
Want to read more about the tools and techniques used here? Check these out: