One of the first things a designer learns in design school is to pay attention to the details. We’re taught to take special care of our designs so they not only look good, but work well in any medium.
And when it comes to logo design, these details are more important than ever! Before you start designing, you should be asking yourself these questions:
- Am I creating this logo in Adobe Illustrator?
- Is my logo 100% original?
- Did I check the font’s license, outline the font and inform the client of the licensing?
- Is the document Color Mode set to CMYK?
- Did I save my logo in the correct file formats?
Meeting these requirements will save a lot of time, and help you avoid technical difficulties in the long run. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Did you create your logo in Illustrator?
Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard, and not knowing it puts a designer at a serious disadvantage. First and foremost: Do not create logo designs in a raster program like Adobe Photoshop, because logos need to be vector images.
Some designers also create their logos with CorelDRAW, however CorelDRAW causes serious problems when you’re trying to convert to EPS and AI. If you’re not a designer who knows how to use both CorelDRAW and Illustrator, then do not attempt to create your logo with CorelDRAW.
2. Is your logo 100% original?
Above are examples of 3rd-party images that a designer should never submit in their logo. To avoid potential copyright issues, make sure your logo incorporates 100% original elements. Also, do your research and make sure it doesn’t look too similar to other designers’ work or any other 3rd-party logo. The best way to do this is to drag a black and white version of your logo into the Google image search box, which will find images that are similar to your logo.
At 99designs, we do not allow 3rd-party-derived imagery of any kind in logo contests, which includes but is not limited to stock art, stock photos, “free” vectors, clip art, dingbat fonts, trademarked logos, other designers’ work or existing logos.
- Your resource guide for third party imagery
- A field guide to stock image licenses (and how to protect yourself)
3. Did you research the font’s license & inform the client?
A. Research your font’s license
I’ve researched the font in this sample logo, and found that it’s available for purchase at myfonts.com. Remember, that a font is the software used to produce the typeface in your logo. Most fonts are “free” for download somewhere, however many of those sites don’t include the font’s licensing information — that’s where you need to do your research!
If the font’s creator does not explicitly state it’s free for commercial use, you must purchase a license to use a font. Check the license of your font with a simple Google search of: “Your Font Name” + “Foundry” or “Designer”. Then, read the font’s license to see if it’s available for commercial use and if it’s allowed to be modified. If both of the above are true, then it’s safe for you to download and use.
The best way to avoid any licensing issues is to create an original typeface from scratch for your logo. However if you’re using an existing typeface, make sure to customize it so that it’s uniquely yours! One way to do this is to significantly modify an existing font for your logo.
B. Outline your font
Now that you’ve picked and/or modified a font for your logo, make sure it’s outlined by clicking Type > Create Outlines. It’s important to outline your fonts so the client won’t need the font software installed on their computer to be able to open the file, and your logo design will always look as intended. In addition, most fonts’ licenses forbid sharing the software, that’s why you need to create outlines and never upload or share a font file with a client.
C. Inform the client of licensing
A designer must always link the client to the font’s license, so they can purchase it if necessary. It’s the client’s responsibility to purchase the font’s license, not the designer’s. Not many fonts’ licenses will allow a design to purchase a font and sub-license it to a client. To inform the client of important licensing information, include something like this in the description of your logo design:
“Hi! I hope you like this font I’ve chosen for your logo. If you would like to purchase the license for it so that you can trademark it in your logo, you can find the licensing and purchase information at: (link)”
- What fonts can designers use in a design?
- Make licensing your friend: a resource guide for finding legal fonts
- Typefaces: The good, the bad and the legal
4. Is your document Color Mode set to CMYK?
Since logos are always likely to be printed, working in CMYK color mode is your best bet. Some designers work in RGB but on the whole it’s easier to convert from CMYK to RGB than it is to convert from RGB to CMYK. To check if you’re working in CMYK go to File > Document Color Mode > CMYK.
5. Did you save your logo in the correct file formats?
Here’s a diagram of all the files you need to provide to a client and how to organize them. Since logos are used on media such as print and web, designers should always provide the client with these formats:
If you provide them with all these necessary formats, the client should not have to ask you for anything else. Above I’ve made separate folders for each type of format, with a color version and a black and white version, and put all these folder inside a larger folder named Final Files.
After you have all the files, put them into a ZIP folder by selecting your files and folders, and clicking File > Compress. Next, submit that ZIP file to the handover page. If the client asks for revisions during the handover, make sure to keep this same file organization and add the word “Revisions” to your file names, so that the client understands which files to look at.
This checklist might look a little intimidating at first, but it will save you a lot of extra work in the long run. If you get into the habit of following it every time you submit a logo design it will become second nature in no time.