Stop Using Fonts For Logo Designs
Why you shouldn’t use un-modified fonts for logo designs and instead modify them to make a cohesive design, or even create your own wordmark from scratch.
Why are you settling on your logo designs?
The three aspects of logo design are form, color, and content. For this post, I will focus on the content or the wordmark portion of logo design.
Imagine. You just finished creating the ultimate symbol for a logo; now you need to work on the wordmark.
What do you do? Do you search the appropriate font, type out the company name, kern/track the letters, then call it a day?
Using a font for your logo designs feels natural. Right?
As a designer, you spend so much time making the symbol of your design perfect. Why stop there?
Why settle for someone else’s design for the wordmark? Why not spend extra time visually connecting your emblem with your brand mark to create something dynamic, individual, and unified?
By creating your own wordmark from scratch or modifying an existing font, you can make a visual identity that no one else has. Something truly unique to the brand you are creating. Something well above what a mere font can offer.
There are two basic font categories to use for wordmarks. First, there’s body fonts. These are designed to be easily read in a sentence or paragraph. The second option, is to use a display font. These are designed specifically to be read at large sizes.
Where does this leave your logo design? Remember, logos need to be legible in both small and large sizes. Fonts are not designed to do both.
You will need to modify it to do so. Or you could create it from scratch.
I know what your thinking, but I don’t have time to develop an entire font with both upper and lower case letters.
You don’t have to.
You only need to create whatever letters that are part of your logo. That could be as few as a couple to maybe ten letters. Many of those would probably be repeated, so let’s call it 6 – 8 letters you only need to modify or create.
As a friendly reminder, if you modify an existing font, check the font’s licensing terms before starting. Some don’t allow them to be used for logos, and some don’t allow them to be modified. Some don’t allow for either — without paying lots of money.
Three approaches to using fonts for logo design
- Using a font “as is” with no modifications to your wordmark.
- Modifying an existing font.
- Creating a wordmark from scratch.
1. Using the font “as is.”
Ease of use
It’s as simple as typing your word and applying the proper kerning or tracking (Kerning is the optical space between two letters. Tracking is the visual spacing between three letters or more.)
Typing in the company name takes next to zero time.
If you design a logo with a non-modified font, consider not adding it to your portfolio.
Looking like everybody else
Anybody can do this, and they could also use the same font as you. Doing so waters down your brand’s uniqueness, and your logo becomes a “me too” brand.
2. Modifying an existing font
Create a unique wordmark
By modifying an existing font, you can change it a lot or just a little. Depending on the effect you are going for, you can genuinely take something run-of-the-mill and make something unique out of it.
By modifying a font for your wordmark, you can add this to your portfolio and promote your ability to attract new clients.
You can charge more for a logo you put that extra time and effort into designing.
How to modify a font for a logo
- Tighten the kerning (the distance between letters.)
- Open up the tracking (the spacing between letters and words.)
- Create ligatures (connected letters.)
- Modify/create glyphs (slightly changing the shape of the letters.)
- Unify overall look (adjusting serif thickness.)
Depending on the number of modifications, this can take a small amount of time to quite a bit of time to achieve that perfect look.
Modifying a font takes more skill to achieve a unified look and feel.
3. Creating a font/wordmark from scratch
Create a totally unique wordmark
By creating your wordmark from scratch, you can make something no one has ever seen before. This will be unique to the brand no one else has — the brand will own this mark.
No royalties or font licensing
By creating your unique wordmark from scratch, there are no royalties or font licensing that you will need to worry about.
This one is simple. You can charge much more for a logo you have created every aspect of.
You guessed it, going this route is time-consuming. If you don’t have the extra time to do so, modifying a font may be the best way to go for you. But if you have the time, the effort is worth it. You will not only create that killer wordmark, but you may also learn a new skill along the way and, hopefully, something you can spotlight in your portfolio.
Creating your letters from scratch can be daunting. You need to have a basic understanding of how letters are constructed; overshooting rounded letters, vertical and horizontal lines are not equal in thickness, etc.
Creating a logo is complex, and many factors go into designing one. The font choice is just one of many factors to consider while designing. I hope this will inspire you to go that extra step the next time you create a logo.
Contact me if you need help with your logo design. I’d love to talk and see how we could work together to create something great.