Logos are important for any company, and an integral part of its identity. Take the famous yellow and red shell logo. Whether it appears on a letterhead, a business card or a petrol station, it would be hard to see it without thinking of the Shell oil company. The chances are that your company, club or charity will never achieve quite the same worldwide recognition but that’s no reason not to have a good logo to establish a corporate identify among your clients, members, or the local community.

Perhaps you’ve never had a logo or, alternatively, maybe it needs a face-lift. Either way, we’re here to provide some practical advice on how to create one. We'll show you step-by-step how to recreate the arrows logo above, and the principles can be used to design and draw your own logo.

You may already have a graphics package that came bundled with a digital camera and, in addition to photo editing, it probably provides a painting facility. For logos, though, drawing software, sometimes called a vector graphics package, provides a better solution. Let’s look at the differences.

Photo-editing software works with pixels so is often referred to as a bitmapped or rasterised graphics package. If you draw a line the software works out which pixels lie along that line and writes them to your image. That’s fine so long as you always use the image at it original size. However, if you try to expand it so that it appears larger on the page, each of those pixels gets larger and you start to see jagged edges.

If you draw a line using a vector package, all that’s saved to your image are the positions of each end of the line. This is only ever converted to pixels when the image is inserted it into a document and the conversion process will take the size into account so that you always see it at an appropriate resolution. In other words, you’ll see only smooth lines. The same applies to rectangles, circles, text and pretty much anything else you might include in your logo.

Principles of good logo design

Below, we'll show you how easy it is to draw a logo, but half of the battle in creating a new logo is coming up with an idea. The first rule in logo design is: keep it simple. It's a cliché, but less really is more with logos. Uncomplicated designs are easier to remember.

You don’t even have to use much in the way of graphics – the wording alone can be enough, given sufficient imagination, as the BBC logo adequately demonstrates. If you do decide to use more in the way of graphics emblems, though, try to take your inspiration from the name of your organisation. Again, though, keep it simple.

Returning to the Shell logo as an example, the design is stylised rather than being an accurate representation of a scallop shell. The rule of simplicity applies to your choice of colours too. Using just one or two colours not only provides a catching and uncluttered design, it also keeps printing costs down. In fact, if you're going to be using a professional printer, it might also be a good idea to discuss your colour choice with your printer to avoid the cost of four-colour printing that would be necessary to accurately reproduce some shades.

Finally, while we certainly don’t suggest that you copy other organisations’ logos, doing a Google search for "classic logos" should provide some useful inspiration.

We’ll be using Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 7 which includes photo editing and vector graphics in the one package. It costs £69 but you can download a fully functional free trial version from Xara's website. Make sure you’ve installed it before continuing.

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