Before we dive into the best sites for designing a logo, it might help to first clarify a few things about logos.
What the purpose of a logo?
For someone who has a weird obsession about logos (an addiction to Apple's logo, geeking out over hipster cafe minimalist logos, to Alexander McQueen's skulls and butterflies (more motifs than official logos, but still) to an urge to collect Givenchy-plated vintage necklaces because, well, G is the initial of my first name...I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I'm a logo geek.)...
I maybe a bit biased, but I have reflected on this for quite a bit, and here's what I came up with.
- A logo marks the beginning of a brand.
- A logo encapsulates what you stand for.
- A logo conveys a brand's promise — without words.
- A logo is a visual compass of what you're here to do.
- A logo can be an iconic seal of your brand's history and values.
At the very least, the purpose of a logo is not just to make you look legit, but to make you feel legit.
A Logo Is Not A Brand. — Harvard Business Review
Sorry, HBR. I don't agree. At least not entirely. I do see what you're doing there, generating all this controversy *wink* along with so many other non-visually-inclined marketing folks who aren't as passionate about logos as I am.
With so much controversy on logos, I think we should set the record straight, in case you landed here and the many articles from naysayers have planted seeds of doubt in your psyche (been there).
No, a logo is not a brand — it marks the beginning of one.
A logo is not a brand, but it's a mark that visually conveys what a brand is all about...to you, and if done right, to your customers as well.
Do you need a logo?
That depends on what you need. That's like asking if you need to wear a suit to an important meeting. Or if you need to mark the fire exit with a red sign with a fire symbol. Kidding aside, the short answer is: heck yes.
Do you need a logo to start selling? The answer is no, but the right logo can make selling easier.
Steve Jobs knew Apple needed one once they started selling computers. They managed to sell computers without a logo, but since what they were doing was different, he wanted to mark it as such. It's almost as significant as when he asked Apple engineers and designers to sign the computers they've created, the same way traditional craftsmen in Japan sign their work.
You need a logo to build a brand, but you don't need a brand to create a logo.
A logo doesn't have to be iconic, it should be different enough so people can tell yours apart from others in the industry.
For example, coffee shops tend to have a coffee bean on their logos. Often, the font can be differentiating enough, but sometimes we even forget names.
That's why it helps to add a differentiating visual element. Like a skull...you know, if you're the Alexander McQueen of cafes, the l'enfant terrible of baristas, sprinkling dark magic on dark roast, creator of dark, edgy, craft cappuccinos.
Or simply add a butterfly like one my favourite cafes in Tokyo.
What are the best sites for logo design?
There are many different ways to go about designing a logo. You could hire designers who will work with you directly or run logo contests on sites like 99Designs. With online logo generators on the rise, you don’t necessarily need to hire a designer to do your logo. In fact, there are plenty of free online tools that can help you create a great logo.
AI Logo Generator
Great if you just want to get some ideas, don't have a lot of design experience, and/or don't necessarily enjoy the design process or want to learn a graphic design software.
There's a plethora of logo makers and logo creation tools out there. Just Google logo design and there's a LOT of options. The SEO force is strong in these ones.* The good news is that it's never been easier to do DIY logo design...but which ones are the best sites for logo design?
Brandmark.io (Top Pick)
I'll be honest here. I've only tried Looka and Brandmark.io. I prefer the latter. I got some nice logos from Looka but they didn't quite have the aesthetics I was looking for. Of course, I haven't tried them all, that would take a bit of time, but here's my suggestion on how to save some time looking for them.
Ha, save some time. The ultimate illusion but an easy trap we all fall in nonetheless. I should probably say, save some energy. As a Human Design Projector/Advisor, I don't have a lot of energy to do thorough researches. I go where my instincts take me.
So if you're like me who doesn't have that type of energy/time, then here's a quick tip:
- Google logo design and watch the listings unfold.
- Check out their websites, and if their home page matches the visual style you're after, give that one a go. Just like hiring human designers, you can pretty much tell what the design or aesthetic result is like from the home page.
- Give it a spin and either purchase fits your brief, err..brief...or use it as inspiration to create your own or hire a designer. It helps for them to see what styles you're after.
I have to say, I'm pretty impressed that it came up with some beautiful logo designs, and they look quite premium.
One thing that can be improved is readability and accessibility, though you can easily tweak the colors in-app or by grabbing the high-resolution files in EPS, PDF or SVG (vector) file formats. Out of the three pricing options, I would recommend the Designer package if you want more customization options like layout options. You could also just purchase the Basic package with the PNG files, but you will have to do a bit of tweaking to convert it.
Free Online Logo Maker and Download
Tried and tested, love the company especially since the co-founder and CEO is a Filipino-Australian female graphic designer. (Almost sounds like me but it wasn't in the stars.)
Fun fact: my career as a branding designer started in Canva. I joined this event called Startup Weekend where we built app prototypes (MVPs or minimum viable products) from an idea. I know a bit of programming but it wasn't my strength, so I ended up being the designer in the team. I built the logo and icons for the prototype using Canva.
It's first and foremost a graphic design app, such as business card design, but for a quick logo, you can easily do it. You should be able to download it for free, too. Just be sure to pay attention to the licensing on the design elements that you use, like fonts or icons. I'm no lawyer so please consult an expert if you're not sure.
That said, it is perfectly doable in Canva, considering they have a comprehensive tutorial on the full logo creation process, and they also offer some very cool templates. I myself haven't used it as I like the flexibility of creating vector elements, icons or illustrations from scratch.
I later graduated from Canva to my fave logo creation tool called Figma. Oh wait — I used Sketch first, then later moved to Figma. Sketch isn't free. Figma is freemium, but you can use a lot with the free plan, and the web version is brilliant. Whenever I want to create some quick designs for branding or brainstorming, I use Figma.
It's a cross between Adobe Illustrator (which is the top graphic design software that professional designers or a classic design agency would typically use. Translation: an expensive option.) and Canva, with a little bit of Photoshop. It's hands-down my favourite tool. There's a library of icons, heaps of plugins on there as well, including an accessibility tool that makes sure your colors have the right contrast, and Unsplash (my favourite website for free photos/images). If you know Photoshop or Sketch, you'll love Figma.
Best Logo Design Software
Though it’s largely used for app design, I use Figma for most of my logo designs. I even create templates for it for my clients and they find it easy to use. I use it in my branding course. You can download your logo in PNG, JPG, SVG (vector), and PDF formats. I believe Canva has limits on downloading-high resolution files. Figma doesn't. Plus, if you just get the SVG (vector) file, you can easily resize your logo to gigapixels (if that ever happens one day...not sure when you'll use it, I reckon maybe the Scarlet Witch might want that size when she creates a hex world).
Of course, with Figma, you'll be starting from scratch with a blank design canvas. I suggest heading over to Pinterest for inspiration, or even use Brandmark.io, then if you want the best color combinations to use, my favourite little-known resource/PDF ebook for choosing the best colors is Brilliant Colour Combinations.
This one is a little bit of a bonus. I created my very first business card design using Apple Pages. My first paid gig in graphic design was done in Pages, too. These days, it's free for Apple users — the web version is perfectly capable graphic design software for creating a clean and simple font logo or word mark.
I know that this is an unexpected addition, which brings me to my next point.
Best Logo Design Software
The best logo design software, just like any creative tool, is the one that inspires you to create, the one that you gravitate towards because it helps you do your best work.
My picks on this list certainly do that for me.
* I was about to write about logo design but pretty sure my little blog post will probably get buried in the sheer volume of articles on the web. Thanks to an app called WriterZen, I thought I'd hone in on exactly what topics might not be out there that people are searching for. If you're seeing this from your Google search, woohoo! (And go check out WriterZen if you want to experiment with SEO.)