You will learn about three key steps to build a logo that is minimal, polished, conveys your mission and will make you look like a startup unicorn.
I have been playing with Sketch since it’s early days and just love it’s ease of use. The fact that it works with simple geometric shapes and paths that can be combined into more complex shapes just makes it perfect for icon and logo design work. Once you make your artwork, you can tweak the size, the color and even the shape of your design and then be able to export the same to an infinitely sized canvas for print on a huge billboard!
This is the beauty of vector based design software, and in my opinion there is nothing better than Sketch out there. So quickly head on to sketchapp.com, grab the free trial and begin work on your awesome new branding for your startup.
I’ll teach you how to make an icon and branding for your startup in three easy steps. Suffice to say, that if you were to approach a design firm to do an icon for you of this calibre, you would easily spend in the order of hundreds of dollars. But startups can’t afford to spend that much, so at this nascent stage many entrepreneurs hack away at a crude logo for themselves. Here I’ll show you a better way to build an excellent identity on day one.
All great design starts with a ‘Why’. As much as we want our website, our app icon, our branding and our logo to look nice, it needs to symbolize who we are and what we do. A quick glance at your branding should tell more about your company than any paragraph of text will be able to explain.
Who better knows what your company is about than you yourself? This is another reason why startup founders should take out a few hours and build their very first logo themselves. As the startup later grows, subsequent re-designs will most likely be variations of the original, otherwise you risk losing awareness and recognition of your branding.
We’ll be working with Sportzify as an example today. Sportzify started out of a need to better know about fitness venues around you. You can think of it as the Yelp/Zomato of fitness. When you think food, you think Zomato or you think about Yelp. When you think about getting in shape or just enjoying some sport, Sportzify wants you to think of them.
So right out the gate we begin to understand the core values of fitness, of being personal and of health. With this in mind we need to identify key elements that would make up our branding.
For example, the Yelp logo is inspired by pizza slices and Zomato is inspired by a spoon. Both eventually want you to think of food.
I love The Noun Project. It started in 2010 with a simple premise: a platform for visual communication. Today it has thousands of icons depicting anything that you can think of. Search for food and you will see food depicted visually in a thousand different ways.
Given our theme of personal health and fitness, let’s start searching for icons that depict it well. Make sure we look for something simple and minimal. Also, we are looking for upto three icons that we can then combine later.
Looks like we don’t have much headway with the key terms of the mission themselves — and that is how it is expected to be. We don’t tend to use specific nouns when we describe our dream and our mission.
But I begin to see that health is well denoted using the visual of a heart, and fitness is nicely depicted with the actions of walking, running or cycling. The idea of it being personal is depicted by the presence of a person in the depiction.
Let’s dig deeper given this new insight.
Looks like we are getting somewhere. The feeling of a sporty, fit and active lifestyle is beginning to emerge from these sets of icons. Now we need to pick out the ones we like.
I personally liked the following two icons for their simplicity and clean edges. But you should pick plenty icons at this stage so that you can eventually see what works best in the next step.
Note: Some icons will require attribution. I recommend that you instead go ahead and buy them as they cost as little as $2 and most of it goes back to the creator. If you see yourself doing this often, you can even subscribe to NounPro for just $10/month.
Now comes the part where we take our ingredients and cook a delicious dish. Open up Sketch and make a square Artboard from the Insert menu on the top left.
You should have a canvas to work on now. Fix up the width and height to be exactly square from the options in the right sidebar.
Drag and drop your assets onto the canvas. The vegetables are ready for chopping!
Let’s first focus on the shape of our icon, its a matter of a long series of trial and error experiments about what looks good and what doesn’t.
No idea is too silly at this stage. Feel free to experiment and keep an eye on how it makes you feel. I started with the approach of putting the heart inside the icon of the person and it was quickly apparent that going the other way round made much more sense.
Even when using the approach of putting the running icon inside the heart icon, there are many variations possible. But each of them was ruled out for different reasons. Again it is key to listen to your heart here. Listen to how the icon makes you feel.
At this stage you would arrive at a pretty unique and bold shape for your icon. For me while doing the Sportzify icon, it was this shape.
Now it was a matter of getting the right colors and some finishing touches.
Now when you hover over the icon, the outline of the shape will tell you that it is now just one single shape. Now we can easily color in this shape.
I like to experiment with using the primary colour as the fill and then overlaying with a simple gradient. Notice how the icon begins to really shine at this point.
Using the handy Text tool, in Sketch, add another layer with the name of your company and pick a nice font that goes well with what you are trying to convey. In this case, this bold font fit right in our theme of being bold and being strong.
It is important to consider how your logo will look on a white background, on a dark background, on a t-shirt, or a mug or a sticker. A quick set of mocks of the different variations will give you a nice idea of the different variations that you can use. Notice how we also now have icons for the Android and iOS apps.
I’ll leave it upto you to learn about the excellent Export tool in Sketch! You can find it on the bottom right of the screen. It allows you to export all your created assets in just one click!
And there you have it! The Sportzify branding is ready.
Thanks a lot to the Sportzify team for allowing me to use their branding as an example for this tutorial. If you live in Bangalore, you should definitely check out the awesome fitness events they conduct like Marathons, Badminton and Table-tennis competitions: sportzify.com/events.
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I recently wrote about how we have entered the era of Machine Intelligence and multiple things in the past have led up to the present day.
Get in touch if you would like me to do a similar branding for your startup.