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Let's design a logo for an Omaha Custom Shirts business!

Logo design can seem like an intimidating process to a new graphic designer. In this article we teach a few simple rules will lead to great logo design.

  1. Use the right words
  2. Develop contrast between words
  3. Make use of uppercase letters
  4. Use the right font
  5. Use line spacing in typography
  6. Pick the right fill and stroke colors
  7. Tie the design together

We operate a print shop in Omaha, Nebraska that helps customers with a wide variety of t-shirt and graphic design needs.

Customers are free to walk in - from open to close - for graphic design work. No appointment needed. Because of this, we end up designing quite a few logos each day.

Our setup as a Omaha custom shirts printshop means we have to design logos on the fly quickly and efficiently. But we definitely see some trends.

The most popular request for logo design is for local small businesses. These businesses are often just starting out. Many have never owned a professional logo. Other businesses have an existing logo, but want something different or would like to see improvements.

We also see families and friends making shirts for all types of occassions. Our designers have made shirts from graduations, birthdays, and vacations, to awareness shirts for cancer, walks, charities, and memorials.

With the wide variety of themes and styles we are asked to produce, we've gotten pretty good at making custom shirts for Omaha customers. Amd good t-shirt design goes hand in hand with basic logo design.

There is definitely a process to follow when designing a logo for a custom shirt, and our staff generally goes along with the following guidelines.

The first step to good logo design is to determine the wording for your logo.

All too often logos contain uneccessary words. So our graphic designers always tell our customers three things.

  • Choose simple words
  • Pick meaningful words
  • Target your market

By using these three simple rules, we generate some pretty darn good logos.

Picture 1 - Choosing the correct wording for our Omaha custom shirts Logo

In this example, we are going to create a logo for a company called Omaha Shirts. We're in Omaha and custom shirts is our business, right???

When designing a logo for business that sells custom shirts in Omaha, our first rule is to use simple and direct wording. Our logo doesn't have any sentences to read and there are no filler words.

Any potential customer should be familiar with the city of Omaha, and what a shirt is.

The logo design is under three words, which is preferrable, and definitely under five words, which should be the max.

Second, the meaning is clear. This is a Omaha Shirt store. This is where many small businesses go astray. An owner might have a great last name, or a quirky/witty/funny idea, but a logo's wording must stand on it's own.

A logo's wording must give customers a clear indicator of the business' products and services. Without this meaning, customers can become confused, or even worse, look elsewhere.

Third, this is a store located in a specific city, selling a specific product. This specific logo is targeting the Omaha market and shirt sales.

Many customers look favorably on a local business. By having the business name be the location city, an owner is expressing a conneciton to that city's customers.

Having the location in a logo design also has the bennefit of establishing a geographical link for online searches.

The next step in logo design is developing some contrast between the words. While meaningful words are very helpful to a logo, a logo still needs a focal point of emphasis.

Picture 2 - Developing contrast between Omaha and Shirts with bold lettering

Typically, the emphasis will be placed on the most imporant word or words within the logo. These are the words that an owner would want the customer's eyes to be drawn towards.

One of the easiest and most efficient means of placing emphasis on a word is to make it bold.

In written language, the term bold is to be striking or conspicuous to the eye; to draw attention towards.

A graphic designer should place this bold emphasis on keywords that are the most fundimental goods and services of the business.

Expert Business Tip: Always ask the customer: "What goods and services do you provide that makes you the most money, in the least amount of time, for the least effort."

These are fundamental concepts that any small business owner should be promoting at all times. The answer to this question will help shape the logo design.

The chosen logo keywords must be immediately seen and understandable in the upcoming logo design.

If the logo is immediately understandable, the customer can make an immediate decision about the ability of the business to meet the customer's needs.

In our custom shirts in Omaha logo design example, we have changed the boldness on the word shirts. The word shirts was chosen, because shirt printing is the fundamental aspect of our business. It describes to a customer exactly what we are providing and has effectively drawn the viewer's attention to the target word.

In some logo designs, an even more targetted wording might be benneficual. For instance, we could use Omaha Custom Shirts instead. The word custom is further refining the message to the customer.

There are not any set rules about bolding one word over another. Often enough, it is a judgement call on the part of the designer. We always tell our in-store graphic designers to work with the customer to pick out the single word that best represents their business.

Along with boldness, capital lettering is another great tool for contrast in a logo.

Picture 3 - Capitalize Omaha or Shirts for contrast?

If bold lettering is good at drawing attention, bold and capital lettering takes this attention to a whole new level.

Once again, there are no set rules for when to capitalize bolded letters. However, our store's graphic designers tend to agree that, for readability, bold large blocky uppercase letters are much easier to read.

In our Omaha custom shirts design, we've capitalized the word shirts. Not only are the letters more readable, but the word is even more emphasized than before. As we explained in the last section, we are definitely trying to emphasize the word shirts in this logo.

Also notice, that when changing the letters from lowercase to uppercase, that the width of the word is increasing. This has effectively added 1/3 more volume to the word shirt.

A designer needs to remain cautious however. Every logo is unique, and while bolded uppercase letters can look good in some designs, the can look bad in others.

In particular, bolded uppercase words can be viewed in written form as a shout. ARE READING THIS IN A SHOUTTING VOICE!?!?

Expert Design Tip: Some logos contain words that are very different lengths. However, to achieve a good logo symmetry, designers often want words to be the same length.

A good technique to adjust the size of a word without increasing font size is to bold the word and then set the tracking to a higher number. This will stretch out the spaces inbetween the word's letters, thereby giving the word more width.

In our print shop we see a huge variety of customer needs. And all the custom shirts at our Omaha store bring new problems and solutions that are unique to each individual design.

A good font can make or break a logo. And many good fonts can create a great logo with very little effort on the part of the designer.

Picture 4 - Picking the correct fonts for a custom shirts in Omaha logo

It is the responsibility and the necessity of all graphic designers to be familiar with as many fonts as possible.

Fonts can convey meanings, feelings, and moods that are integral to successful design.

There are fonts for every situation, but not all are created equal. There are important considerations to responsible and correct font usage.

Firstly, when finding new fonts, be sure to look for open source fonts. These fonts are free to use for all applications. Dont' get yourself into trouble by trying to promote your own sales with an unliscensed font.

Google has done a great job in organizing an entire list of fonts that are free for everyone to use. Check out the Google open source fonts here.

Also be sure to look for properly designed font. While this might not be readily apparent initially, poorly designed fonts can have design elements that react poorly in programs such as illustrator and photoshop.

Think of fonts on the internet like a pot luck dinner party. Everyone brought something to eat, but that doesn't mean everyone know how to cook.

Font Troubleshooting - Stroke Spikes: In a common font design issue, the vector anchor points in the font files may not be closed properly. This can lead to "stroke spikes," which are effectively glitches at the intersection of an anchor point.

These spikes form as a stroke is applied to the path in a design program. The stroke will form an exagerated outcropping that can severely impact the overall design. If you ever encounter one of these spikes, decrease your stoke's limit value. This usually resolves the issue. You can also set your stroke's corner to a round join.

In our example for Omaha Shirts, we have chosen some italicized fonts to compliment and contrast the blocky uppercase font. Our chosen script was picked because it is both formal and edgy, while still being highly readable. Ultimately, it conveys professionalism, fun, and a geographical link to our hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Now our logo is starting to get somewhere! But it isn't time to sit on our hands and celebrate, our logo for custom shirts in Omaha needs a bit more work.

Picture 5 - Bringing the words Omaha and Shirts together

After the final font selection and stylizing, it is time for the final layout for the logo.

Choosing the layout requires a certain familiarity with typography and white space. As always, all graphic design projects have different needs, and all logos are different.

With that said, most logo's design elements are spaced closely together. This close proximity is due to the logo's requirement to be one cohesive unit. Parts of a logo should not typically be floating off in space away from the main logo elements.

Logos also tend to be wide rectangles, squares, and circles. This shape strategy is important because of the variety of logo print mediums, from online websites, to business cards, to letterhead, to floor rugs.

All of these mediums tend to conform to rectangular reading areas. Creating tall and skinny logos tends to make placing logos within designs particularly difficult. Try putting a tall logo onto a website header and see how many tall logos you ever design again...

Graphic designers should always create logos with a broad variety of applications in mind. A logo should never be designed for one medium alone. It shoud be designed to be usable on any type of document and fit into any space naturally.

With line spacing in mind, most logos will have little-to-no gap between words. Words often sit on top of eachother.

In normal written paragraphs and reading, there is a standardized line spacing - even in this article. But with logos, line spacing is often severely decreased. Designers must use their own eyes and decied what is appropriate. Remember to keep design cohesive and whole.

In our Omaha Shirts logo example, we have reduced the spacing between the words Omaha and Shirts. Placing the lettering closer together draws the design together into a cohesive whole.

A logo's color is just as important as good typography when designing a new logo.

Picture 6 - Adding color to our Omaha Shirts logo

Jut like fonts create feelings in the viewer, so do colors. Here are a few examples:

  • Red - Passion, Love, Danger, Warning, Strength, Agressiveness
  • Orange - Hot, Energy, Success
  • Yellow - Happiness, Optimism, Energy, Sun, Brightness
  • Green - Nature, Growth, Harmony, Wealth
  • Blue - Peace, Trust, Security, Wisdom, Faith, Cold, Masculine
  • Pink - Health, Happy, Sweet, Playful, Feminine, Compassion
  • Purple - Luxury, Calm, Serious, Mystery
  • Black - Power, Formal, Death
  • White - Purity, Innocent, Simplicity, Clean, Medical

Colors can also have different meanings across cultures, always be aware of designs that may be used on other countries.

When selecting a fill color for your text, pick something that looks good and has meaning. When selecting a stroke, pick something that compliments your fill.

A stroke should always make words easier to read. If a stroke decreases readability, decrease (or remove) the stroke. A good fill and stroke combination work hand-in-hand to ease readibility and to create good looking logo design.

In our Omaha Shirts example, we have selected yellow and orange, both due to their color meanings, and becuase they stand out and draw attention.

The fill layer has been created using a gradient that transitions from yellow at the bottom to orange at the top. The stroke is a solid orange that almost exacle matches the very topmost orange of the fill gradient. This gives a reverse contrast effect that transitions into a color match.

Some designers might be tempted to finalize the custom shirts in Omaha logo at this point. However, one final phase of the logo design process will really bring the entire design together.

Picture 7 - Finalizing our Omaha custom shirts Logo

A great way to achieve unity in the design is to enclose the design.

Enclosing the design can be accomplished with a stroke, with textures, or even with objects and shapes.

Common enclosing shapes are circles and squares. Just think of the logo for the popluar coffee shop.

Sometimes textures can be great too. We've made plenty of auto racing shirts with a tire tread splashed in the background.

In our current Omaha Shirts example, we decided to simply add a double stroke around the words.

The black stroke has been set a bit thicker and adds seperation and contrast from the main lettering.

We then added a yellow stroke, which is slightly brighter than the interior gradient, around the whole object. This yellow adds further contrast and what might be considered a halo effect.

When designing a logo, is usually best to start with the words and work your way down our list.

Some designers may be capable of sketching complex logos, but this method our shop uses can allow any designer, from beginner to advanced to create a great logo with minimal time and effort.

We hope you liked our blog on text design. If you really liked us, give us a like on Facebook or our Google Plus Page! Thanks!

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402-614-0888

10000 California St (Inside Westroads Mall)

Omaha, NE 68114

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