From Zero To Logo: Getting a Logo Design for Your Website. Fast.
If you're building or rebranding a new website, I'm willing to bet you'll waste a lot of time on this common stumbling block:
Unfortunately, this is what the process of starting an online business often looks like:
But you never got to step 4 because you’re still looking at logo designs and getting jealous of someone else’s, aren’t you?
It's hard, right? You want your logo to look pretty but professional, sophisticated but simple, elegant, honest, bold… aaaargh! Face it! You don’t know what you want… because you don’t even know what makes a logo good.
So you easily waste way too much time and walk away with either your wallet lighter or your ego severely bruised.
It’s time to approach this the Thrive Themes way. In this post, I'm going to show you how to land a versatile logo fast so you can get it done and start working on the things that actually make you money.
What Makes a Logo Matter?
At Thrive Themes, we’re all about focussing your time and your energy on the things that make a difference to your business.
Sorry, but your Logo is not one of those things (at least not yet).
Your time is best spent providing excellent value to your customers. They have their own challenges, pains and dreams so they only care about whether or not you can help them. Your logo is not something that provides value so until you’ve got good a customer base, it hardly matters.
Don’t take it from us! Take it from marketing legend Seth Godin:
Here’s a simple test: Ask a few people to name a logo they like. With very few exceptions, people will choose a logo that’s associated with a brand they admire. That’s because what makes a good logo is a good brand, not the other way around." - Seth Godin
Now, it’s not very helpful if I tell you that your logo doesn't really matter and to “Just Do It” (cue Shia LaBeouf). That's why in this article we're going to look through the logo history of some recognizable brands. Then we’ll give you a simple and solid solution to help you create a logo you can start using today.
Established Brands With Trusted Logos
Let’s jump back in time and look at a few logos you may already know.
We’ll start by looking at 3 personal-brand entrepreneurs running successful businesses. These are good examples because they started out on their own, without massive financial help.
Then, to see if these observations are more universal, we’ll look at 3 huge companies that have been around since the mid to late 20th century.
How We Got Their Old Logos
To dig up some of these brands' fossilized logos, we used the Wayback Machine. If you ever want to look into the past and see how certain websites have changed, then I highly recommend you check it out.
We also used Logopedia to view some of the even older logos that existed before the internet archive.
Personal Branding Logos
Brian is the SEO master behind Backlinko. He's been hired by some huge companies and now teaches his strategies to anyone that will listen. His company is quite successful and his site is a lean SEO masterpiece.
Let’s look at how his logo has changed over the years:
That’s a massive authority-site in the SEO niche… and look at the logo. It’s the website name, with a slightly different ‘O’ on the end. That’s it! Back in 2012, Brian had a logo that was ‘good enough’. Sure it’s gotten better with time, but that’s not why his business has been successful.
Ramit Sethi runs the website I Will Teach You To Be Rich. There's no pursuit of clever branding here: the brand name is literally just a benefit statement!
We talk about Ramit quite a bit because he’s an example of a solopreneur who turned a simple blog into a multi-million dollar business. Check out how his logo has changed since the beginning:
Ramit's logo began as plain yellow text. How simple can you get? He didn’t even capitalize the brand name! Then over the years, as Ramit began to find success, he updated his logo until he eventually ditched the entire ‘green’ color scheme and started using plain black on white.
Ok then, on to the last personal brand...
Another entrepreneur and online marketing master, Neil Patel has worked closely with many fortune 500 companies and started multiple million-dollar businesses. Guys like Neil are useful to study because they take a marketing-first approach to their business decisions.
And what’s his logo look like? Drum Roll...
Would you look at that!
His logo… is just his name. In one font. In fact, with further iterations his logo has only been simplified, even dropping the tagline. Here is a guy that understands marketing and has deliberately simplified his design. I wonder why that would be...?
Billion Dollar Company Logos
Perhaps Personal-Brand businesses are the only ones using simple logos with a single font, right? Surely when you have a multi-billion dollar mega company with a marketing team of hundreds, you would have a logo that is more than just the business name in an ordinary font... right?
Let's have a look.
Walmart is an american discount department store chain that began in 1950 with a single store owned by a man named Sam Walton. The brand name came from his last name ‘Walton’ combined with ‘mart’ to get Wal-Mart. Let’s look at the company's logos through time:
They’ve changed fonts, colors, and even replaced the hyphen with a star, but the majority of their designs have been simple. This is a multi-billion dollar department store chain and even they have updated their logo time and time again with only minor changes.
The Japanese multinational company Sony is one of the most recognized electronic brand names in the world.
We take portable music for granted these days, but it wasn't until 1979 that Sony revolutionized the music industry with the first portable music player: the Sony Walkman. Here’s how their brand logo has changed since the 1950's:
Those 4 letters have come to mean something very valuable. This is a perfect example of how the brand itself has made the logo mean something, not the other way around.
In 1981, Sony held a contest where applicants could re-design the brand logo. With nearly 30,000 entries worldwide, they chose 3 finalists... and then decided not to change their logo at all! Prize money was split between the finalists.
Bill Gates was once the richest man in the world and held that title on and off for decades. I’m sure you’re familiar with his brand, Microsoft. Let’s see how their logo has developed:
After 4 new logos in 12 years, they finally settled on one that they kept since 1987. This was through the booming era of Personal Computers in the 1990s. But in 2012 they decided to freshen up the logo once more:
Once again, we have a massive company that built their brand and their business off a plain logo… made from a basic font.
The hardest part to deconstructing a logo's history is disassociating with the brand itself. When you look at Microsoft's logo, you recognize it immediately.
But now imagine being Bill Gates at the very start of Microsoft attempting to design his logo. No one knew him or his brand. Was that simple logo he chose good enough to get start building his company with?
Yes. Yes it was.
The Solution To Your Logo Problems:
Now that we've looked at 6 different brands, we're going to look at what you can do for your own logo. But to do this, first we need to talk about Bike Sheds.
The Bike Shed Effect
In 1957, a British historian named C. Northcote Parkinson coined the term ‘Parkinson’s Law of Triviality’, which has since been nicknamed the ‘Bike Shed Effect’.
To illustrate the Law of Triviality, Parkinson showed that there will be more time spent discussing what color to paint a bike shed than there will be approving the construction of a Nuclear Power Plant.
Although his observation was satirical, the point is disturbingly true: the amount of discussion generated on a topic is often inversely proportional to how much it matters.
In other words: we waste more time on the things that don’t matter than things that do!
And that’s also how it is with Logos. It’s why there is public backlash when big brands try to change their logo design… because it doesn't make any real difference to anyone.
(Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of wasting hours trying to animate text rather than brainstorming things like new value propositions.)
If you were to come up with a simple logo and show it to 5 non-marketing friends, I guarantee you’ll spend hours discussing their 5 wildly differing opinions… all over something that doesn’t matter.
But try to talk to those friends about something much more complex, like how you should build your Automated Evergreen Scarcity Funnel and what do you hear? Radio silence...
So now that you know what the Bike Shed Effect is, here's how I suggest you sidestep it entirely. And it's so simple, it almost hurts. Ready for it?
- 1Pick a font - 10 minutes max.
- 2Choose 1 or 2 colors - Also 10 minutes.
- 3Write your brand name - 1 minute.
Then move on.
Remember: What makes a good logo is not your logo at all. It's your brand.
I also recommend that you build this logo inside your website, where it's easy to modify. (Yes, you could do it in photoshop and then upload the image file, but soon you'll see why I don't even suggest that.)
Here are two example brand logos that were made within Thrive Architect that took me less than 10 minutes to complete:
I'm sure you're not applauding my creativity here, but in a moment you'll see the value of a design like this. And look, I don't want to be an absolute kill-joy, so if you absolutely insist of doing more than just text, I'll permit you one more piece of flare...
- 4Add an Icon from an Icon Library - 5 minutes
So why will this ridiculously simple solution save you many headaches? 4 reasons:
1) It's Easily Changeable
Most websites you visit will use an image as the logo. This works fine until you consider replacing it. Sure, it's easy to upload a new version of your logo image... but it's even easier to just double click on the text and edit it right there.
Follow our steps and you won't need image editing software or a designer to help you change your logo. Changing your logo font is as easy as choosing a new font within WordPress.
Inside Thrive Architect, our visual page editor, we have partnered with Google Fonts to bring you over 800 fonts to choose from. We've also recently added an integration with Custom Fonts that allows you to bring in a specific font of your choosing.
Why It Matters:
Your logo will change. As we’ve seen in all of the above examples, there are many minor tweaks that you may want to make as your business grows. Take the pressure off and permit yourself to create a basic logo to get started and update it later. Don’t try to walk before you can crawl.
2) It's Scalable
No-one likes a blurry logo. If your brand logo is an image file, then make sure you upload it at twice the pixel size you intend to display it at (and use a PNG file).
For example: Let’s say you want to display your logo at 200 pixels wide. You should upload it at 400 pixels wide.
Why is that? Doubling the size means there is extra pixel information in the logo for when it’s viewed on a device with a higher pixel-density screen. Like smartphones!
However, if you follow our suggestion and use a font instead of an image, your logo will look sharp on all screen types and sizes... with no extra effort! This is because font files are scalable.
Fonts and vector graphics don't contain pixel information. Instead, they contain the data for drawing the image or text. Instead of getting blurry when it increases in size, fonts or Vector Graphics will remain super sharp because a display can redraw the graphic to suit the visitor's screen.
So sticking to fonts and scalable icons will eradicate this concern completely. And if you're using Thrive Architect, we've recently added 3600+ scalable Font Awesome icons that you can use within your logo too... just make sure you don't spend more than 10 minutes choosing one!
Why It Matters:
Visitors are viewing your site on all different types and sizes of screens, so you need your logo to adapt to the viewing experience they choose. This used to be a huge problem when smartphones came out with double-pixel density screens, making image logos blurry.
People expect sharp. Give them what they want.
I’m sure you’ve seen an amateur website making this mistake: Their logo has its own background color that is different to the webpage underneath. It just looks… ugly.
Although we are focusing on creating a logo quickly, we aren’t suggesting it should look bad!
When you upload your brand logo to your website, it should have a transparent background. Although the file will be rectangular, it needs to be something you can place on top of any background without that ugly colored square around it.
Sounds easy, right? Well, JPEG files do not support transparency so you’ll need to import a PNG file with a transparency layer.
Or just use scalable vectors such as fonts and icons. By following our suggestion, you'll have a logo that can work on any background color or image.
But if you would like your logo to have it's own background, then you can place it inside a small content box, select a background color, and you're set!
Why It Matters:
Remember, nothing is permanent! It’s not just your logo that could change, but you may want to change your whole website color scheme. Transparent logos give you the freedom to place them anywhere and to change whatever is underneath!
4) Dark & Light Versions
Your website is not a plain text document. It should have colors and shades to break it up, and to add visual emphasis where necessary.
But this can cause trouble for your brand logo. If you have a Dark Logo, it will work just fine when placed on any light background… but place it on a dark background and it would hardly be visible!
You could give the logo it's own background, but that would be in violation of point number 3 above. So instead, take a few minutes to swap the colors in your logo until you find two different variations. Here's an example:
Most good wordpress themes allow you to upload two variations of your logo for use on different backgrounds. It’s a solution that works, but it does require a bit of extra design since some logos can’t easily be inverted without looking bad.
Our suggestion of using fonts allows you to tinker with those colors on the fly, should you ever encounter a color clash. Or you can avoid this completely with the new Headers and Footers feature we've added to Thrive Architect (which will also integrate with the Theme Builder we're working on), where you can choose the entire header you want - logo included.
Why It Matters:
Many of your website visitors will only stay for a matter of seconds, so a clear logo design is important in communicating exactly what website they are on.
Repetition is important in brand recognition, but only if your logo is clear. Color contrast plays a huge part in that clarity.
Your Steps To Take
Whether you're starting a new business or rebranding your website, just remember that the most influential part of your logo is not your logo at all — it's your brand.
Once you've chosen a business name, just choose a font and a color scheme (and perhaps an icon) to get your logo done so you can focus your time on the things that really count.
What Do You Think?
We know that this logo design strategy may ruffle some feathers. There are designers who will swear by the importance of an expensive and thoroughly thought out logo.
But to us, this is just the color we paint the bike shed.
Leave a comment below to tell us if you found this useful or if you disagree and think a logo really makes a big difference in your business.