Logo paints

How to Create Your Own Logo in 5 Minutes

Logo paintsLogos are central to an organization’s visual brand identity, and as communications consultants, we’re trained to give them a great deal of importance. Always a perfectionist bunch, I often see newly-solo PR pros waiting to launch their business (and investing money they don’t yet have) as they seek to create the elusive perfect new logo. But in fact, if you need a logo quickly and with minimal hassle (for invoices, letterhead, business cards, etc.), you can actually create your own logo in 5 minutes, no special design software required!

The truth is, unless you specialize in a creative industry, most clients pay very little attention to your logo. As long as the logo doesn’t look like it came from a crazy person, prospective clients are much more interested in hearing what you can do for them.

Alternatives to the 5 Minute Logo

While there are some free online “logo creator” sites available, most of these use a freemium model and charge you to unlock some key features or remove a watermark. Nothing is more frustrating than taking the time to create a DIY logo, and then finding out there’s a ransom to use it (yes, it happened to me once).

There are also some relatively inexpensive sites where designers compete to win your logo design business, such as 99designs and crowdSPRING, or your could always find a freelancer on a site like Elance. Your friendly neighborhood Kinko’s probably has a design helper on staff, and you may even be able to find someone to design a logo for $5 bucks on Fiverr. But all of these methods take time and have varying rates of success.

You can always take the time to work with a professional designer later, but if you need a decent logo quick, fast, and in a hurry, use the four steps below. Design purists, look away!

Creating your 5-minute logo

1. Choosing a name
If you really are just getting going as a consultant, before developing a logo you need to decide on a company name. The easiest (and often most effective) method is to use your name or initials, followed by a descriptor such as “PR,” “Communications,” or “and Company/Co.”  A few fictional examples based on my name would be Crane PR, KJC Communications, Kellye Crane and Co., etc.

Take a moment to look up the domains available (Bust a Name is great for this), and if there’s a .com available with one of your variations, grab it! This naming method is an investment in your personal name recognition, and if you’d like to do something more creative later, you can always change it.

2. Choose your font(s)

Now that you have your company name, you’ll want to display it as part of your logo (most of us have yet to reach Nike swoosh status!), and for that you need to choose a font.

A designer-y trick is to use two different fonts that look good together. Give some thought to what’s common in your field and what your clients and prospects use and like for their own logos. For example, I specialize in the enterprise technology industry, where it’s typical for my clients’ logos to consist of the company name in clear, conservative type (think IBM, Microsoft, etc.). Your target clients may prefer a little more personality – their own logos should be your guide.

An excellent website for finding your perfect font is dafont.com, which allows you to type your company name in the preview box, and see how it looks in the hundreds (thousands?) of different fonts they have available. At the top of the page you can click the category of fonts you’d like to investigate (for the purpose of a logo, those listed under Basic are likely the best fit), and in the search area, click “more options” and check the box that says “free:”

dafont search box

This will show you only those fonts that are completely free – even for commercial use – and you can easily download them without even creating an account on the site (nice!). To install them on your system, just click the “download” button, open the .zip file on your computer, click the font name and hit install (if you get suck, checkout the dafont FAQ). Warning: this site is addictive!

3. Want to add a doodad?
Graphical elements really aren’t a requirement in most industries, but if you feel you need one there are a number of quick options. You may find a symbol or wingding within your currently installed fonts that’s a good option, or you could search dafont.com again for this element.

Note that “icons” and “pictograms” are frequently-used terms for stock graphical elements. Do a Google search for “free png icons for commercial use,” and you’ll find a variety of icon sets you may find useful, like this one.

Don’t go crazy with the doodads – it’s easy for logos to turn cheesy. But especially if your first or last name has a literal and positive meaning (e.g., Strong, Lucky, Powers, etc.), a simple graphic can help with name retention (see below for an example). Just remember that keeping your company name as the most prominent element is critical to the success of your 5 minute logo.

4. Create your logo using PowerPoint
Now that you’ve gathered the elements you need, it’s time to create your logo. There are obviously other powerful design programs you can use to combine your logo elements, but for design novices (of which I am one) it’s pretty hard to beat PowerPoint.

Open up PowerPoint and – using text boxes – type out your company name in your chosen font. When deciding on a color scheme, keep in mind logos need to look good when printed out in black and white/grayscale on an office printer, so don’t count on colors to differentiate the elements.

Utilize different text boxes for each line of text (so you can use different fonts if you’d like). You can even use PowerPoint’s Shapes, Fill, and Outline features to add a background and/or graphical interest.

When you have it looking the way you want, select each element and right click to pull up the menu – then hit “save as picture.” On the Mac, there are similar capabilities in Pages and Keynote.

Voila! You have your new logo. I challenged myself to create a logo in just five minutes using the steps above, and this is what I came up with:

5 Minute Logo - KJC

Then, because creating five minute logos can be addicting (I warned you!), I did this one for a friend with the last name Lucky:

5 Minute Logo - Lucky

Not too shabby, eh? Since you will probably take more than five minutes, yours will be better.  If you have any additional tips, please share them in the comments!

[box type=”download” style=”rounded”]Solo PR PRO Premium Members: Check out our new DIY Brand Identity Kit, full of templates for business cards, letterhead, invoices, etc. – download and easily customize them for your business. 

Not a member yet? For less than the typical price of a single logo design, you can subscribe to Solo PR PRO Premium for a full year and access all of our templates, ebooks, special offers and more – all designed to help you be more successful communications consultant. Join today!

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  • Laurie

    Can’t believe I haven’t thought of using PowerPoint! Haha, it’s amazing how quickly we forget the “go-to” programs with the likes of ADOBE CS6 and QuarkXpress in our grasp!

  • Thanks, Laurie! The more I learn about PowerPoint the more flexible I realize it can be — it’s also a good program for laying out ebooks.

  • Michele Blood

    Inkscape and Gimp are two graphics type programs that are open source and easy to use. I’ve been creating some awesome logos with them just for fun 🙂

  • Deborah Brody

    Is this an April Fools’ post? How can you, as solo PR (comms) professionals advocate not caring about branding? A logo is an integral part of your brand, and as such, should be treated with a bit more professionalism and care than “creating it in five minutes.” You seem to be devaluing the work of graphic designers who put their knowledge and expertise into logo development to help you communicate your brand. How do PR professionals like it when clients say anybody can write a press release and no one even notices them any more, besides, we have Microsoft Word so we can write it ourselves.

  • Hi Michele- I’ve tried Gimp before but I’m not familiar with Inkscape. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Deborah- No, not an April Fool’s joke. As I note in the post, this is for those just embarking on self-employment who might let their lack of a logo prevent them from networking and pursuing near-term opportunities. I understand some may not agree, but over the years I’ve seen many solo PR pros (and boutique agencies) hit the ground running before there’s time for branding exercises. Good designers are worth their weight in gold — the above is just a stop-gap (which some may choose to try, others not).

  • Joan Witte

    I also struggle with this advice as I would never tell a client to take this route. Got to eat the dog food…

  • KarenSwim

    Over the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with many, many new entrepreneurs and this is really solid advice. When first starting out you have a vision of your business but more often than not it shifts as you gain clients and experience. I have seen many new solo pros go the big corporate route out of the gate investing time and money in things like a logo only to have it not be relevant a year later. Some abandon the solo work, others change their industry focus and still others shift their offerings. If design is not the core competency of your business (i.e. you are a designer,artist, etc) then it is wise to save money early on and wait until you have some experience before spending money on your visual branding. This post offers practical advice to meet a need without being sloppy or unprofessional. There are those entrenched in the belief that the DIY is unprofessional but it’s important to really focus time and resources, especially early on with what will truly drive business.

  • KarenSwim

    I am going to chime in because you raise great points! I did not read this as anti-design at all. Honestly as a PR pro I don’t advise start-ups to spend their money on PR either. It’s often too soon in the process and there is a need to intensely focus your time and resources on what is truly central to the business. You can add services and upgrade your look once your business is launched. I have worked with far too many start-ups who honestly don’t even have the information to complete basic branding questionnaires and have watched countless newbies completely shift focus.

  • Good point, and I understand where you’re coming from, Joan. Let me clarify that I don’t see this post as advice per se (I’m not saying everyone should create their own logo) — just offering some tips if they choose to do so.

  • It is so important to save money starting out, to INVEST where it makes the most sense and shows the most returns. I’m a designer and the first to say a logo in and of itself isn’t some magic weapon that’ll transform your business. If you’ve only X amount of budget, spend wisely. So from that standpoint, there are some good points here: don’t over think it, don’t over do it. Start small and be prepared to change down the road. We all know – make a really good product, not just good marketing! That said, I agree w/ @deborahbrody:disqus

    @KarenSwim:disqus it’s not that DIY is bad per se – i.e. I often tell people who want an inexpensive website to learn WordPress. It’s that 1) when you hire an amateur to do something on the cheap, you tend to get those kind of results; and 2) time is money, it’s why we pay someone else to change the oil in our cars.. we can use that time to do what WE do best.

    Whether it’s 5 minutes for a logo or a website for $200 – you pay 10 cents for a diamond ring, I promise you have a ring not worth a dime.

    Like a website or business cards (that can and should be affordably, professionally printed) or the headshot you post on LinkedIn, a logo does communicate something about your company, your brand, about you as a professional. If you do opt to DIY, please give it more than 5 minutes, YOU and your biz are worth it. People may not notice the time and care you take in developing your company name and logo; I assure you that, perhaps not even realizing it, they’ll notice when you don’t.

    FWIW One last rant from my designer hat: any professional printer or web developer I know would run screaming from anything rendered in PowerPoint. 🙂

  • As always, you have a way with words, Davina! 🙂

  • Wow! Wish I’d read this 16 months ago. Great article. Thanks, Kellye!

  • Joan Witte

    Love the good dialogue! Lots of great points all around. As with anything, it’s about balance.

  • Thanks, Lorraine! Glad you found it useful.

  • Jose Eduardo

    Very good.
    Jose Eduardo, admirador das Acompanhantes SP , São Paulo – SP