They say first impressions are important and that’s never more true than when it comes to logos. Logos are the face of a brand, it is usually the first thing people see when they come in contact with your business, therefore not something that should be taken lightly.
If you have just decided to start your own clothing brand and are still in the process of developing its visual storytelling, then you have come to the right place. Using some of the world’s most iconic brands, we’ll teach you the basics of visual brand development so you can design the perfect logo for your business, from casual sportswear to high end embroidered polo shirts.
But let’s cover some of the basics first…
Fashion Logos: The Different Styles
A logo is an icon or a symbol that represents a brand, company, organisation or even a person. There are different types of logos:
Typographic Fashion Logo
As the title suggests, these consist of just the brand’s name written in a particular way. The fonts used for these types of logos can be designed exclusively for the occasion (sometimes even done by hand) or a modified version of an already existing typeface.
The brand Ted Baker chose a tall sans-serif for their naming to create an elegant aura.
Zara’s serif font is reminiscent of a fashion magazine cover like Vogue or Harper Bazaar.
Much like Ted Baker, Alexander Wang went for a minimalistic style.
Symbolic Clothing Logo
These logos use an icon to represent themselves and they can be accompanied by text or not. There are two types of symbolic logos, abstract and figurative
Most of the time they’re geometric shapes, but they can also be organic (made out of lines and edges that can be found on nature). What makes it abstract is that the human mind doesn’t recognise it as any particular object or element.
Gap’s blue square is iconic and works very well, nobody complained as far as I could tell. That’s why it baffled many when they tried to redesign it back in 2010.
The lines of the Adidas logo are iconic that they are featured in most of their products.
The “bat-like” shape of Levi’s logo is a synthesised version of a banner in the original logo.
Figurative Clothing Brand Logo
The opposite of abstract, these figures represent something and the human mind should be able to recognise it. If it doesn’t, then the logo is not doing a good job. Designers often have to walk a fine line between creating something recognisable that is not too obvious.
In 1901 Burberry’s equestrian logo was developed around the latin word Prorsum which means “forward”.
Did you know that the crocodile was chosen as the brand’s logo because it was the founder René Lacoste’s nickname?
The bald eagle is an obvious choice as a symbol for a brand such as American Eagle Outfitters, but it works.
Creating the best logo for your clothing line
Qualities a logo needs to have
In order for a logo to be a good representation of a brand, it needs to check certain boxes. Opinions on what makes an effective logo vary from designer to designer, but as a general rule logos should:
Still be recognisable regardless of size
Logos are placed in all sorts of mediums: from physical, like stationery and billboards, to online platforms like websites and apps. As awesome as it might be, it is not practical to have a logo that would end up looking like a fly when it is reduced in size. The other way around is not much better either, to amplify something that’s poorly constructed only highlights its flaws.
Due to its simplicity, Converse’s logo works pretty well on any size.
Work in Black & White
When we conceptualise, it’s normal to get caught up in the moment and forget abut certain important details. We may come up with some gorgeous colours, only to realise that it doesn’t translate to a monochromatic setting.
Everyone knows that the iconic logo of Benetton is green, but thanks to its minimalistic design, it works just as well when we get rid of the tone.
H&M is a brand that’s also known for its colour, this time is the bright red. Still, the logo doesn’t lose any of its impact in either black or white.
Work in negative
Aside from being functional in greyscale as well as full colour they should also work well when they’re inverted. I remember clearly a project I did when I was back in design school about a fictional brand we had to develop. I worked really hard on the logo and was very proud of it. It was a great logo in my mind, until my teacher asked me to turn it white and place it onto a black background. “It doesn’t work,” was all he said. Needless to say, I was disappointed and wished I had considered it on the early stages of the process.
In my opinion, the Crocs logo doesn’t work well when it’s inverted. The crocodile which is cute in it’s original version is suddenly — not so cute.
On the other hand, Paul Smith’s logo is pretty much flawless in whichever way you use it.
A logo that needs to be redesigned every five or ten years is not an effective one. Logos need to be timeless in order to become a recognisable staple in the consumer’s eye.
A good example of a timeless logo would be Chanel’s interlocking C’s. It was trademarked in 1925 and hasn’t changed since.
Represent the brand
It might be a no brainer, but a logo needs to represent a brand. It doesn’t have to be obvious, a t-shirt brand does not necessarily need to have a t-shirt on the logo, but it still has to reflect the values and target audience of the brand.
Ray Ban and Oakley both produce sunglasses and have pretty much the same price range, the difference is that the first targets a “classic” audience, while the second caters to the “sports” market and that is reflected on their logos.
Work on different formats
As with sizes, logos will be represented in all kinds of formats (business cards, powerpoint presentations, photocells and many other mediums). A very intricate design may look great on a computer screen, but will probably lose detail when it gets printed on a business card.
The above image is an example of Twice Fashion, a Chinese luxury fashion label who’s visual branding has been developed by SocioDesign (a graphic design studio based in London). To find out more about this case study, visit bpando.org.
Hire a designer
If you’re starting your own brand then you’re probably on a tight budget and hiring a graphic designer might seem like a commodity that you can’t afford right now. If that’s the case then, I would strongly advice you to reconsider and make some adjustments to your financial plan if possible. I am aware that graphic design can be expensive, specially when you’re hiring an experienced professional, but the design of a logo should be seen as a longterm investment. As I already stated above, a good logo should be timeless. In the long run you will save time and money with a well designed logo.
Avoid internet services like agencies that design logos overnight, design competitions and (God forbid) free make-your-own-logo tools. It might be tempting, but any of these services won’t do your brand any good. How much effort do you think a designer put on a logo that was created in the same amount of time that most of us take to do our laundry? A proper logo should take weeks and sometimes even months to be designed. That’s because the professional designer will do research on the competition industry and your brand’s story before he or she even sits down to draw the first line. Designer’s who turn work too quickly usually grab from the Internet an already made icon or template and then work from there. If you don’t mind having the same logo as thousands of other brands, then go ahead, but we believe the face of your brand should be unique.
If you still have hangups about paying a designer for their efforts, look at it this way: the software they use to create a logo costs around £60 a month and that’s not even mentioning the money and time spent on design school to learn the program.
When you pay a professional designer to do your logo, you’re paying once for something you’ll be using for many years to come.
Tips on how to design a successful fashion logo
Even though, we already recommended hiring a graphic designer, you still should know the basics of what makes a good design so you may be able to judge properly. There are few things that frustrate a graphic designer more than a client saying: “I don’t like it, but I can’t say why. Change it.”
- Keep it simple. A straightforward design is easy to understand and easy to remember.
- Keep the colours in mind. While the logo needs to work in black and white, colours are just as important because they (subconsciously) communicate the values of your brand. Also keep in mind that these need to work in digital and on physical, some web colours can’t be printed and vice versa.
- Be creative. It should go without saying, but logos need to be unique if they want to stand out from the rest. We live in a world saturated by brands, so any steps that might be taken to differentiate your brand from the rest are welcome.
- Be original. Again, obvious, but it still needs to be stated because more often than it should, people want to copy other logos. This is counterproductive in more ways than one. The first one being that you don’t want your products to be confused with someone else’s.
- Draw on paper. Sketch! Even if you don’t know how to draw, grab a pencil and start doodling what you have in your head. Trust me, the designer will appreciate it as it will make it a lot easier for him or her to bring to life what you want.
- Use a geometric shape as a starting point. Most logos are based in a circle, triangle, square or rectangle. The first three tend to be more comfortable as they can be placed almost anywhere.
The iconic L&V from the Louis Vuitton logo have been designed inside a square.
Giorgio Armani’s eagle has been designed inside a triangle.
- Complicate it. We already stated it, but it’s worth repeating. A convoluted design is hard to replicate. Although, there is always an exception to the rule.
- Be inspired by flimsy trends. Fads come and go — pretty quickly. It might seem like a good idea, at first, but in a couple of years when everyone has moved on, your logo is going to look pretty outdated.
- Rush it. A good logo can take weeks and even months to be produced. Don’t rush the process! Or you might end up with a half-baked idea. Remember this is the icon that will (hopefully) represent you for many years to come.
- Redesign your logo. If you get tired of it, don’t change it. Not just yet. It takes a while for people to relate a brand to a symbol so if you redesign it very often, you may run the risk of confusing potential customers.
Protect your design
Once you’ve gone through the entire process of developing a brand, it is time to protect it. It would just be awful if after all the hard work someone would steal the design only because you didn’t trademark it. If you want to know more about trademarks and copyrights, check the following post we wrote on the subject here.
Resources to create logos online
If you want to learn more about logos, check out the following sources:
A website dedicated to logo design. Personally speaking, I love this website because one can tell it has been curated with the outmost care.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Logo Thief, a blog that talks about designers that steal other designers’ ideas. It is oddly entertaining. The only problem is that it hasn’t been updated since 2016.
The website of our friend …. also known Logo Geek! He’s constantly updating his blog with interesting content regarding everything logos.
A blog that features case studies of logos and visual brand development.
Examples of legit clothing brand logos
Here are more examples of unique clothing brand logos:
The “Tri-ferg” logo of the up-and-coming brand has become highly coveted among urban fashion fans.
Fashion label Versace has a very busy logo which is usually a big taboo, but in this case it suits the brand.
Russian brand Gosha Rubchinsky took inspiration from artist Timur Novikov to design the logo for their brand.
Stüssy’s logo is typographic and is obviously inspired by graffitis.
Urban streetwear brand Undefeated adopted the five strikes as their emblem to represent victory.
Are there any more logo tips you think we should share with someone looking to design a logo for their new clothing brand? If so, please let us know in the comments below or by sending us a message via any of our social media outlets.
In the meantime keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
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