Blog Home Design How to Elevate a Typeface Logo in Adobe Illustrator

First impressions matter. A lot. Here are some tips to ensure that your brand makes a good one, starting with your logo.

Creating a typeface logo might seem simple, but the reality is that designing an effective one takes time, effort, and extreme attention to detail.

In this article, we’ll review three easy techniques to customize your logo in Adobe Illustrator.


1. Adjust the Kerning

One of the quickest ways to customize your logo in Illustrator is to adjust the type kerning. This is an adjustment that controls the space between letters. It’s a stylistic choice that elevate your typeface logo with just a few clicks. Spreading out the text in most logos can create a more clean, modern aesthetic.

To get started, be sure you have your logo typed out and not yet expanded or vectorized. You can either highlight your text with the Type Tool or use the Selection Tool to select your type path.

Be sure you have your Character Window ready-to-go in your workspace. If you don’t see it, you can go to Window > Type > Character.

Character Window
Example of Character Window.

Your window should look like the above example. From there, you can adjust the spacing by clicking the arrow to get the drop-down menu or type in your numeral adjustment. If you’d like to decrease the spacing, go with a negative number. To increase, go with a positive number.

Depending on your font, you’ll find a setting that works best for you. Here’s an example of what happens when you decrease your tracking. Don’t go too low, as this can make your type illegible.

Logo Tracking
Decreased tracking to -75.

Below is what a normal setting at 0 looks like. This is the default setting so you can see the difference between a negative and positive setting.

Type Setting
This is your default setting.

To elevate your logo, I suggest increasing the spacing, as it’ll often improve the visual appearance of your logo no matter what your typeface is, unless it’s a script font.

Script fonts should almost always be kept at 0 tracking, so they can connect with each letter. Below, you’ll see how this small adjustment can make text look more visually appealing.

Script Fonts
Your setting at 200.

2. Create an Outline

Another quick way to create something unique for your logo is by creating a text outline. Do this by setting your Stroke. Before you do this, make sure your text isn’t expanded or vectorized yet.

Then, head to your Appearance Window. If you don’t see it, you can find it by going to Window > Appearance, then drag it into your workspace.

Turn off your Fill Color and set your Stroke to a darker color. You always want your type logo to be legible, so darker colors work best unless you’re placing your logo on a contrasting background.

You can also adjust your Stroke Point here. Find the perfect balance of keeping it as thin as you can, while still being legible from farther away.

For this example, I set my Stroke Point to 1.5. Decide what works best for your font choice.

Outline Logo
For a unique approach, create an outline around your logo.

You don’t have to stop there. This outline can be used as an accent to the logo that you already have by offsetting it to create an interesting detail, as in the example below.

Play with this outline to find something that works to portray your brand’s visual identity.

Outline Logo
Try offsetting your logo.

To achieve this look, type out your logo and make a duplicate by holding down Alt/Option on your keyboard while clicking and dragging. Make sure one is set to only a Fill Color and the other is set to only have a Stroke.

Now, offset the outline by either clicking and dragging in your preferred place or using the arrow keys on your keyboard. This usually looks best with thicker san serif fonts.


3. Add “Type to a Path” or Shape

A final technique to improve your logo is by typing on a path. This option is ideal if you have an icon/typeface combination logo. It works to implement your text within your icon to create a cohesive design.

For this example, we’ll type on a semi-circle shape. To get started, create a circle using the Circle Tool. Hold down Shift on your keyboard while you click-and-drag to make it stay in a perfect circle.

If you prefer an oval shape, simply click-and-drag without holding Shift.

Circle Tool
Create a circle with the Circle Tool.

Now, use the Direct Selection Tool to click the top point on the circle and press Delete on your keyboard. This will create the semi-circle shape we’ll be typing on.

Semi-Circle
Create a semi-circle.

Next, use the Type on a Path Tool, which can be found underneath the Type Tool in your Toolbar. Click to the far-right to add text. This will add filler text, which we’ll edit soon.

Type on a Path Tool
Use the Type on a Path Tool to add filler text.

However, our text reversed, which we need to fix. Once you have your text selected, go to your top menu > Type > Type on a Path > Type on a Path Options.

From there, you’ll see this option window come up. Make sure you click Preview at the bottom so you can see your changes in real time. Keep Effect at Rainbow, select Flip, then set the Align to Path at Center, as seen below.

Type on a Path
Set Type on a Path options.

Now double-click your text to replace your filler text with your brand name. You can also use this to edit your text, as you would any other text, by using the Character Panel to change the font, font style, size, etc.

Find what settings work best for your type, and make sure that all of your text fits within the path.

Setting Text
Make sure your text fits!

Here’s a quick example of what you can do once you have your type set on a path. Experiment with the placement to see what works best for your unique brand.

Logo Example
Lovely!

Developing an impactful type logo takes time and patience. These techniques will allow you to further customize your ideas, bringing them to life in a fresh, unique way.


Need some typography tips, advice, and inspiration? We’ve got you covered:

Cover image via marekuliasz.