If you’ve got a start-up or a small business you’re probably acutely aware of how graphic design plays a role in building your company. Similarly you probably know how expensive it can be to hire out graphic design projects.
That’s why it’s important to know some design basics yourself. Plus, the more graphic design you can do yourself, the more control you have over your brand’s appearance.
If you company is like mine, your first big graphic design project is your logo and a brand guide. Before you get into the basics of picking things like colour and font, make sure you know what personality you want your business to have.
Design is about personality and it’s about how you bring that personality to your consumers. My business is a media company for young woman. We wanted our business to be fun, relatable, and feminine without being girly. As we made design decisions, we constantly came back to those principles to make sure we were representing our personality correctly.
So, let’s say you know who your company is. Then it’s time to pick a font and some colour.

Finding your font

Typography is an important element of design. It not only communicates the name of your company, but also its personality. Many companies link their brand’s font directly to profits. For example, White Mountain Footwear says they saw a 20 percent increase in sales after they redesigned their font. There are three main types of fonts to choose between. Each comes with strengths and weaknesses and each has hundreds of varieties.


Sans serifs are the internet’s favourite kind of font– think tech start-ups, Helvetica, and lifestyle blogs. It’s clean and modern. It’s also easy to read even when it’s in small type. So if you’re going for a fresh, new and yet readable font, go sans serif. The only thing to watch out for is looking like everyone else. Because sans serifs are so common they’re not always the greatest way to set your business apart. Here’s an example of a sans serif logo:

Script fonts can be tricky. They have a lot of personality– they can be creative, elegant and/or casual. But they can also be really difficult to read. I love a good script font, but admittedly I’m a little biased. My business’ logo font is script. It fits really well with our persona, it’s fun and it’s youthful. Here’s our example of a script logo:

Note: You can find thousands of fonts to choose from online. Many are free and some need to be licensed for commercial use. My favourite places to find fonts are dafont and fontsquirrel and Google Fonts.

Choosing your colours

Colours in and of themselves have a lot of personality. In fact 80% of consumers say that colour increases brand recognition.
The Logo Company studied the colours of the logos of a handful of companies colours and the feelings they represent. Red, they said, is exciting, bold and youthful. Orange is friendly, cheerful and confident. Yellow brings optimism, clarity and warmth. Green represents peace, health and growth. Blue evokes trust, dependability and strength. Purple is creative, imaginative and wise. And black and white is balanced, neutral and calm.
Those meanings, of course, change based on what shade of the colour you use. In fact, if you look at the three logos used to demonstrate fonts above, you see three very different shades of blue.

From left to right: Gap blue, Google blue and Driven blue.

The Gap blue is a classic navy, Google’s is a fun, bright blue and my company uses a pastel sky blue. KISSmetrics found that women prefer soft colours while men prefer bright colours. Similarly, women prefer shades (colours mixed with white) while men prefer tints (colours mixed with black).
If you’re looking to use multiple colours in your logo or brand, studies show that people prefer colour combinations in similar hues (like blues and purples). And if you’re looking for an accent colour, the same study found that a colour with a major contrast to your main palette is most effective. Personally, I get most of my colour palette ideas by searching on Pinterest, but another great place to find colour combinations is Adobe Kuler. You should also look at your competition to see how you will compare.
At the end of the day, think about what your company stands for and who your audience is when you are designing your logo because remember: The blue that you choose means more than you think.

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