What Software Do I Need to Create a Logo?

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

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite Screen Shot
© Corel, used with permssion

A logo represents a product or business on the web, in print, possibly on the side of a truck or building, and on a product. Because of the wide range of applications, when you create a logo, it's best to use vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Vector-based logos can be enlarged or reduced to any size without any loss of quality because they are based on mathematics rather than pixels. The same cannot be said for a pixel-based logo, such as one you might create in photo-editing software.

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

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 to use it. By generating the original logo in vector software, you can save it in any format and enlarge it as needed.

When you save a logo in vector software, you have several format options. Some software has 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 one or all of the other formats needed.

Common Vector Software Formats

In addition to any 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 easily read. You don't need to learn XML to create SVG graphics. It is written 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. If the logo is a one or two-color logo destined for a letterhead or envelope, Pantone spot colors are preferable.

When you design a logo, you should 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 (ask the provider). Maintaining an original, editable version of the logo is essential, so you can change the color 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. They can be enlarged or reduced with no change in quality. They are instantly recognizable. They pop out on the page, screen or product. When designing your vector-graphic logo, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use geometric shapes where appropriate
  • Limit any text to the company/product name
  • Keep it simple and bold
  • Think about negative space
  • Color is vitally important

If you use type in the logo, make sure the font choice complements the brand and is easily readable. You 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.