What Software Do I Need to Create a Logo?

The best logos work for web, print, packaging, and display uses

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite Screenshot

Corel

Because of the wide range of potential logo uses, it's best to use vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW when you design a company logo. Vector-based logos can be enlarged or reduced to any size without losing quality because they are based on mathematics rather than pixels. Pixel-based logos, such as one you might create in photo-editing software, work differently, and they can't be enlarged significantly without affecting the quality.

Even the best logo idea can lose its impact if it isn't created in vector software and saved in formats that allow it to be used everywhere a company or product needs it. By generating the original logo in vector software, you can save it in any format and enlarge it as needed.

Best Vector Graphic Design Software

Adobe Illustrator rules the vector software crowd, but it has some worthy challengers. If you already own one of these programs, use it to design your vector-graphic logo:

  • Adobe Illustrator (PCs and Macs)
  • CorelDraw (PCs)
  • Sketch (Macs)
  • Affinity Designer (PCs and Macs)
  • Inkscape (free open-source software for PCs, Macs, and Linux)

If you've never worked with vector software, you may run into a learning curve. These programs all have free online tutorials that can help you master the basics.

Other vector software programs are available. Just make sure they allow you to export your logo in the formats you need.

Proprietary Vector Software Formats

When you save a logo in vector software, you have several format options. Some software programs have proprietary formats, such as Illustrator's AI format or CorelDRAW's CDR format. These formats are useful for the original design. When the design is complete, the AI or CDR file can be saved or exported in the other formats needed.

Common Vector Software Formats

In addition to proprietary formats, most vector software programs give you options for EPS, PDF, and .SVG formats.

EPS and PDF formats have wide use in print, display, and packaging. They can contain CMYK, RGB, HEX, or spot color graphics.

Logos destined for web or app use should be saved as SVG graphics. This format is essentially XML code that browsers can read easily. You don't need to learn XML to create SVG graphics. The software writes the code for you when the filed is saved or exported in the SVG format.

Colors in Vector Logos

If the logo is destined for print, then CMYK colors — or Pantone spot colors, in the case of a single or two-color logo — should be used. If the logo is destined for web or mobile app use, RGB or Hexadecimal color spaces are best.

When you design a logo, export or save it in all the different formats you may need it. You'll definitely want a web presence, printed business cards and brochures, and maybe T-shirts or a truck wrap. These could all require the logo in a different format and size (ask the provider). Maintaining an original, editable version of the logo is essential, so that you can change the format when needed.

Tips for Working With Vectors

It's no secret that the best logos are pretty simple in design: Think of Nike's swoosh, Apple computer's Apple, or FedEx' s all-type FedEx (with the arrow indicating movement cleverly embedded in it as negative space). These logos can be enlarged or reduced with no change in quality. They are instantly recognizable. They pop out on pages, screens, and products.

When designing your vector-graphic logo, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use geometric shapes where appropriate.
  • Limit any text to the company or product name.
  • Keep it simple and bold.
  • Think about negative space (the empty space in the logo).
  • Color is vitally important.

If you use type in the logo, make sure the font choice complements the brand and is easily readable. You'll convert the text to outlines in the vector software, so the type, like every other part of the logo, can be enlarged or reduced to any size without affecting the quality.

Tip: When you convert type to vectors, you can no longer edit the text, so keep a copy of the logo before you convert the type for future use.