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