Everything you need to know about designing a fashion logo that will help you stand out in the cluttered world of clothing brands

Prepared for small business owners

Building your own fashion logo from scratch may seem jarring for some people, but for you it’s just another, exciting project. The vast, glamorous world seems to be within yours arm’s reach. You’re full of ideas and unmatched imagination – drawing the brand’s image should be fairly simple, right? Heck, you’ve designed a few lines of clothes before, how difficult can it be?

czaszka
Well, preparing your logo all by yourself can end your career here and now, burying your fashion dreams alive.

Let’s make a few things clear – possessing valuable fashion designing skills does not translate well into building a successful logo. No matter how much natural talent you have or how brilliant your ideas may be, you don’t know the marketing world well enough to do everything on your own (for example, can you tell the difference between long-lasting and temporary typographic trends?) The process of preparing your own branding image is long, multi-stage and…. expensive.

And to make matters worse, fashion industry is starting to slow down. And this means, it’s going to be extra hard to make a difference in your niche and take over your competition. Take a look below.

  • ·

    “The State of Fashion” study from 2017 claims that clothing sales growth is significantly lower today than 5 years ago – 8% in 2011 and only 1-2% in 2016

  • ·

    According to the BoF-McKinsey’s Global Fashion Survey, 67 % of fashion executives, creatives and investors believe that conditions for the fashion industry have become worse over the past 12 months

Things are starting to look a bit grim, don’t you think? This is precisely why you need knowledge, experience and assistance in preparing a logo that will help you survive the upcoming years of struggle.

This article will guide you through the most important aspect of designing a successful fashion logo. We’ll describe the 3 pillars of logotype creation – shape, color and typography – and help you narrow down your choices when it comes to various branches of fashion industry.

No time to wait.

The 3 pillars of fashion logo creation

Hopefully, you’re already past the idea of logo being a visually pleasing and “cool” addition to your company. Think of your branded image as the ultimate sign conveying your marketing message. You don’t have to remind yourself what the Nike logo looks like – it’s imprinted in your brain.

“Logos and branding are so important. In a big part of the world, people cannot read French or English–but are great in remembering signs” 
― Karl Lagerfeld

czaszka

But how do I get to this point?

As with every project, you need a solid foundation. When it comes to logos, you need to focus on 3 layers serving as a starting point to the whole designing process, the 3 pillars of creation: logotype, shape and color.

How do I know which element should should I start out with?

To answer this question you need to ask yourself “what is my business all about?” Are you focused solely on sportswear and fighting your way through a crowd of competition to make the most of your sales during the summer season? Are you stuck in the process of rebranding to save your high-end company from bankruptcy? Or perhaps you are just starting your fashion adventure and have designed a few successful lines of clothing for teenagers?

Each point below contains various examples for different types of fashion business branches. Take what you need and learn more about logo creation process.

czaszka
Typeface

If you’re wondering why we’re starting with the typeface, take a look at the most impactful fashion logos and notice that most of them rely on mostly (or even entirely) on letters and characters. The reasons are pretty straightforward – they are easily readable, they look good in different color palettes (including black & white) and can be arranged into monograms.

High-end and streetwear fashion

A survey from 2014 conducted by online magazine Slamxhype investigated usage of fonts in logos of popular streetwear and high-end fashion houses. The results showed that all designers use almost the same font families: Helvetica and Futura.

The preference for classics, such as Helvetica and Futura is all over the  industry, and with good reason—they’re clean, readable, and versatile.

Does this mean I should always pick Helvetica and other traidional fonts for my high-end lines of clothes?

Well, focusing on traditional fonts in your logo comes with a few problems.

  • ·

    First of all, they are overused and associated with specific, multinational brands (such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Armani, etc). A newly-started company hasn’t built this kind of recognizability yet. This means, that relying on Helvetica or Futura could undermine your position on the market (you don’t want your recipients to see you as a cheap imitation of other, big brands, do you?).

  • ·

    Secondly, Helvetica, Helvetica Neue or Univers do cost money, ranging from $30 to even $700. The fonts often lack all the characters or weights you need and aren’t always properly spaced and proportioned.

And here’s the proof that too much traditionalism may hurt your brand.

The GAP logo disaster

In 2010 GAP redesigned its logo into the Helvetica and reduced the prominence of the brand’s iconic blue box. The public reaction was swift and….overwhelmingly negative. The outcry was so massive, that the company decided to revert the logo it its former self after only 8 days of being public. Take a look at the GAP designs below.

So how come the logo left a sour taste in the public’s mouth? The biggest problem could be narrowed down to the font choice: Helvetica seemed outdated at the time. The 63-year-old typeface was bland and raw. Imagine yourself eating the same old piece of meat without salt or pepper for a year. Every day.

The original Helvetica is so overused that it fails to provide a truly unique identifier.  To stand apart from the competitors, you need something less generic and with a pinch (or better, a bucket) of personality.

Traditionalism with a twist

One of the ways of designing an impactful logo is to alter an existing logotype, particularly a near-ubiquitous one, such as Helvetica. Imaginative tracking, kerning, elongating key characters or whole phrases can go a long way when it comes to conveying your brand’s character.

Typefaces can show emotions just as well as colors and shapes. Wide-tracked types feel sophisticated and authoritative, while narrow kerning helps to lock individual characters together in a single unit, evoking professionalism and a sense of urgency. Check the examples below.

Sportswear fashion

Sport fashion logos usually rely on few, selected modern fonts, such as Futura, or ITC Avant Carde Extra Light. Your goal is to visualize progress, elegance and style.

First and foremost,  your brand’s name needs to be visible at all times. Oftentimes sportswear has little room available to attach a complex looking logo and still look good. This is why, a clear typeface or a recognizable monogram are the perfect answers.

Teen and children's fashion

In teen and children fashion logos you are targeting two audiences at once: kids and their parents. You need to appeal to children by using clear, visible characters with lots of whitespace in-between. Keep in mind, that each age group requires different approach – younger kids prefers big, clumsy letters, while older possess more proficient reading skills (and are definitely more drawn to the “cool” factor).

For the parents, the typeface you use should evoke the feelings of safety, security and reliability. Avoid irony and sarcasm like a plague (unless you to try to appeal to “edgy” teenagers).

czaszka
Color

Color is the second pillar of effective logo design that can highlight business’s strengths and help you attract the right set of customers. And, as you might have already guessed, the wrong combination can have the reverse effect and make your brand flop. Spectacularly.

Color psychology plays a crucial role in fashion logos and can effectively indicate which branch of clothing we viewer is dealing with. On a simple level, colours on the warm side of the spectrum, such as red and yellow, are uplifting and energetic, while their cooler counterparts, blue and green, exude calmness and are more reserved.

The importance of designing in black and white

Before you unleash your monster within and go on a coloring rampage, you should design your logo in monochromatic palette. This way you’ll get an idea of the contrast and saturation, as well as make sure, that the image will look clear enough for any printed materials.

High-end and street-wear fashion

Most high-end fashion logos are designed in black and there’s a logical cause for this. It’s sophisticated and “classy”,  evoking a sense of authority and boldness. Although the color is seemingly universal, it’s also repetitive and might make you “blend in” a bit too much.

Fortunately, you’re not limited pitch-black only. High-end fashion lets you explore different shades and notions that will help you set apart from the monochromatic palette of your competition.

Let your colors be consistent with your brand

Fashion companies – up from the high-end echelons, down to casual streetwear – often carry over their logo’s color scheme onto the whole brand, applying particular shades and tints throughout their products, marketing materials, or even stores. It helps them create a consistent visual image in the heads of their recipients, exploiting subconscious attachments to particular colors.

Sportswear

Sport fashion logos tend to rely on bright, dynamic colors implying energy, movement and health. Light versions of red are perfect for inviting people to take risks, stimulating senses and raising blood pressure. Different shades of blue, on the other hand, evoke feelings of freedom, limitless spaces and inner balance.

Children’s fashion

When it comes to colors in children fashion, you can generally let your imagination loose, as longs as you restrain yourself to pastilles and non-aggressive tints. Avoid strong red or orange. In short, your job is to make your logo look like another Sunday cartoon with lots of pleasant looking shades.

czaszka
Shape

Shape is the last, but definitely not least, pillar of effective fashion logo design. One of the most iconic fashion logos on the planet, such as Nike or Adidas, are built upon logomarks – abstract or figurative shapes that are made to enhance brand’s identity.

How should I know if I my company needs a logomark?

Generally, it depends on the type of fashion business you are running, as logomarks add to the cost and length of your brand development process, so your budget could be a deciding factor.

But they are also excellent marketing tools that can help your prospects identify and understand what your brand is all about (for example, a symbol of high heels, or a purse). Over the years, they might turn into an inseparable part of you company, becoming the cornerstone of your marketing endeavors.

High-end and streetwear fashion

There is no leading aesthetic when it comes to shapes in logos used by high-end and causal fashion businesses. Generally, they can be divided into 2 categories:

  • 1

    Abstract logomarks – most of the time these are geometric shapes, lines or edges. What makes them abstract is that human mind can’t recognize them as any particular object, or form.

    image43

    Palace Skateboards company was founded in 2010 by Lev Tanju. The presented logo feeds on the 90s nostalgia, featuring a Penrose triangle with italized “Palace” on its sides. It’s an impossible object and a type of an optic illusion without a definitive end.

    Here’s what the designer, Fergus Purcell, said about his work:

    “I chose the infinite-repeating thing as a motif for eternity. It implies that it loops around and around forever. That was a conscious thing to put that in brand and say, we’re not already, were infinite”

  • 2

    Figurative logomarks – Opposite of abstract, these shapes represent an object that the human mind should recognize on the spot. If they don’t, it means that something went horribly wrong.

    image44

    This logo promotes Amsterdam-based menswear clothing company. The first impressions are generally most telling and at first glance you can say that the image seems protective , decisive and manly. The logo depicts a modern inspiration of the Maasai shield. According to the co-founder of the company, “it represents the philosophy of being modern nomads where mobility is the most efficient strategy for exploiting scarce resources.” 

Sportswear

The world of sport fashion logos is generally filled with dynamic shapes implying action and movement. Apart from the iconic, figurative symbols, such as Nike or Puma, sport brands often rely on abstract or geometric shapes that are easily distinguishable on a tracksuit or a sweatshirt.

Teen and children’s fashion logos

Similarly to typefaces and colors, shapes used in teen and children logos are more casual and laidback than in other clothing branches of the industry. Their sole aim is to, either, impress the kids and make them awe in delight, or convince their parents that the brand is safe and reliable.