You want a logo. There’s lots of ways to go about getting one. You can pay for professional results at various price points and levels of service. It could be as little as five bucks on Fiverr.
But you want none of that. You want to do it yourself. For free. Even though you’re not a designer.
Me too! And so I did. See the image above. (What do you think? Seriously, tell me in the comments. These designs are not set in stone. How can I improve them?)
In truth, it was probably super expensive when you factor in the time I spent. I won’t say how many hours. But it was fun. And frustrating. But overall, very satisfying. I ended up with a design that I’m not ashamed to call my own. Still, you should seriously consider outsourcing this job to a professional designer. Save your time for what you do best.
But, if you’re still reading and want to take deep personal satisfaction in doing it yourself, but with less of the frustrating guesswork, read on for how I hacked this logo together.
Start with a Symbol
You know what your brand is about. It has a reason for being and it could be distilled into an elevator pitch, a sentence, a slogan, a word. A symbol. If you could only use a pictograph, what would it be?
Made to Learn is about education with a purpose. I believe that the physical universe (including ourselves) was brought into being by God for a purpose that points back to him. When I think of purpose, I think of intentionality, which makes me think of direction. An arrow. Two arrows in opposite directions, signifying God’s intentions towards the physical universe and vice versa.
So, I went hunting for a simple black and white icon from Noun Project. You can use their icons for free by giving credit or use them without attribution for a small fee of two bucks per icon. So, I chose to fork over $2 and not be a purist about creating a free logo. There are however lots of free icon sites.
Play with Fonts and Colors
If there was a one-stop source of knowledge for me, it was Canva. It’s a DIY design platform that’s also a blog with tons of instructional content on various design elements like fonts and color palettes.
I like typography. I know that Comic Sans should never be used. But that doesn’t make me an expert on what typefaces are fresh but classic, go well together, and are free. Many of the recommendations by Canva and Typewolf are Google Fonts, which are open-source (free) and designed for web use.
I ended up going with Oswald Bold for the main typeface and Raleway Thin for the subtitle (and”to” in the title). I’ll play with Libre Baskerville for the font of these blog posts, as soon as learn how.
I’m still up in the air about a color palette, but I’m leaning towards this palette that I found on Pinterest from Design Seeds. I’m looking for something colorful, vibrant, natural, but also a bit serious. You can see the red-orange color as the link and button color on this blog (at the time of writing) and the square icon below.
Find an Image
This is optional. Because my logo was so heavy on text and symbolism, I wanted to balance it with a photo to make it more organic. The relationship between God and people is not just an idea in the abstract, but something that takes place in the physical world. A natural landscape helps communicate that.
There’s also now the precedent of overlaying the logo on a blurred photo. I can do that with different background photos for different uses, which makes for unintended versatility.
Pixabay is my site of choice because the images can be used for free without attribution. Make sure to download a high resolution image.
Put It Together
Take the elements and start combining. I used Canva’s online editing tools, which are functional enough to create what I needed. Canva has a bunch of Google fonts pre-loaded, but you can upload your fonts if you don’t find what you need. I might update the included Raleway Thin (a bit too thin) with Raleway Extra Light.
As you go, you may find that your elements don’t play well together, so you’ll look for different fonts, symbols, colors, images, etc. It’s an iterative process, not nearly as linear as I’ve described it so far.
Resize for Everything
Canva comes with a handy feature for repurposing your design for various social media uses. Using “Magic Resize”, I’ve ported my design for use as a Twitter header (1500 x 500), a Facebook cover (851 x 315), a Google+ cover (1240 x 700), and an email header (600 x 200).
Other options include social media posts like Instagram, document formats with letterhead, eBook covers (yes!), business cards, postcards, and lots more.
Create a Square Icon
You need a version of the logo that will look good when scaled down very small for social media profile pictures, which are square and often appear as tiny thumbnails.
For me, the whole title would not work. So, I combined the initials of Made to Learn (minus the ‘t’) in Oswald Bold, an up arrow (just an isosceles right triangle), and the orangey colors of the palette on a white background to create something super simple. The ‘t’ even makes an appearance in the negative space.
Be creative with this, but make it a variation on your theme.
And You’re Done
For now. You’re just getting started. Like me, you’ve got something that passes. Get feedback from knowledgeable people that care about you and will tell you the truth. Make tweaks. When you have the cash, hire a professional.
If you follow these steps to create your own logo, share your (family-friendly) results in the comments.
And leave me some feedback. 🙂