Hello! Designing a logo for your game is not something I've seen covered too many times, even though the game logo is an important part of marketing on platforms like itch.io and Steam. A well designed game logo can convey the mood of the game and make it stand out in a crowd.
In this post I will share my logo design process, as well as link to some great resources for learning about graphics design. I want to point out that this is not a software tutorial.
I've been working professionally as a graphics designer and illustrator since 2012 and I'm currently working on a short surreal immersive VR experience called DunDun together with my brother and a friend.
This article is about the necessary steps to produce a logo for your game. When dealing with clients there will obviously be more steps involved, from the initial background check to time plans and contracts. I'm not writing about those things as my intentions are for you to get started designing your own game logo, not someone else's.
At the very least, I want to help you understand and better communicate with your graphics designer. I will assume that you have already picked an awesome name for your game.
A summary of the Logo Design Process.
Research. Your initial research should include at least the following information:
- A brief description about your game. Can you summarize the game in one short sentence?
- Who is your target audience? (What kind of a player).
- Who are your main competitors? How do they work with their branding?
- What makes your game unique in comparison to your competitors?
- What keywords should be associated with your game? Be specific and keep it three to six words.
- "Do's and Don'ts" in regards to the logo design, within your specific genre.
Be honest with yourself and do proper research! This information is essential as it will dictate your design decisions going forward.
Create a Design brief and a Mood board. The above information should be summarized in a design brief. This document will be the foundation for the design of your game logo. Every decision you make should be based on this information, which is why the design brief is very important. It can be a simple text document with the information presented in a bulleted list. Try to keep it two pages maximum.
The Design brief and Mood board.
The mood board is a visual exploration based on the information gathered so far. After all, the end product is a visual one. Collect graphics, fonts, inspiring photos, colors, patterns and anything else that will help concretize and clarify the design brief. Treat it as a sketch and make several iterations if needed. Make the most important imagery bigger and add text captions that explains why you picked those images. This is especially important if you are showing someone else your mood board without being present yourself. Nothing in the mood board is final! An alternative to using any graphics software is to use Pinterest.
Explore ideas. Don't get stuck on any one particular idea at first, even if you have come up with a really good one. You could start sketching right away if you want, but I find mind-mapping to be a very useful tool to start off with. Mind-mapping helps you brainstorm ideas and structure these visually.
You could also do other "word association" exercises. Find the best methods that work for you. Google will help you with this.
Rest! Sleep on it and let your unconscious mind process the information. Do something else and return well rested. I find that working intensely and then taking a longer break can work really well for your creativity muscles.
Don't forget to take breaks!
Sketch. I prefer to sketch with pen on paper simply because that is the quickest way for me to get my ideas out. No clunky software to worry about. You might sketch digitally though, and that is perfectly fine. I would urge you not to use any colors at this stage. The shape, or silhouette, is more important. Nail that first, then worry about color.
Sketch a lot and sketch fast! The point is to get many different ideas out as fast as possible. Your initial ideas are likely what most people will first think of, so don't get too hung up on those. For me, sketching is a way of thinking with my hand. It's first when you put "pen on paper" that you will notice if your idea really works. When you have produced some solid sketches, pick the best ones. I usually settle for one or two designs.
- Keep the shapes of your symbol simple. This is especially important since it needs to be readable in very small formats.
- Your game name is enough though for a logo, you don't necessarily need to have a symbol as well.
- Go with one strong idea instead of several. Your logo can't say everything.
- Ask someone for feedback!
- Squint. Is the shape still readable?
- Flip it to get a fresh perspective on the design (use a mirror if sketching with pen on paper).
- Scale the logo down and enlarge it as well. Does it still hold up?
Create mockups. When the shape is decided upon, it's time to focus more on color. Color is a tough subject. I recommend researching your specific genre and other games like your own. How are they using color and what colors are common within your genre? Do you want to stick out or blend in? Maybe the colors in your game logo can relate to the overall color scheme and theme of your game?
- Keep it simple. A few colors are harder to mess up and it makes the logo more memorable. If I say red and yellow, what company comes to mind?
When you have a decent enough logo (polished and at least 90% finished), make some mock-ups, like a business card or perhaps a pin. Take a screenshot from Steam and itch.io's main pages and place your logo/capsule art amongst everything else. Does it stand out? Is the logo clearly visible against both light and dark backgrounds? Is your symbol readable as a Twitter profile picture? If you have not decided on a final logo yet, the mock-ups will most likely help you with that decision.
What do the colors and shapes say about the game?
Tweak, after some more rest. It's important to distance yourself from the work from time to time. If you can, get feedback, then tweak if needed. Some things to think about when designing and using the logo:
- Formats and sizes. I try to work as much as possible with vector art or in 3D, as the logo will then be scalable without becoming blurry. If you're working in a painting software like Photoshop, make sure to set the resolution to at least 4K.
- You should be working in RGB (Red Green Blue) color space to not limit your available colors. Be aware that very vibrant colors will not print as seen on screen, because they will be printed in CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Key/Black).
- Be consistent when utilizing the logo. Don't rotate or skew it. Always scale the logo proportionally!
- Let the logo "breathe", which means that you should be generous with margins. Otherwise the design might feel cramped. Also make sure that there is enough contrast so that the logo is clearly visible against the background. A good idea is to make both a black and white version of the logo as a "back-up" for when the primary isn't clearly readable and therefore can't be used.
- Use the logo on everything you share publicly and be consistent with placement. The logo should be present, but it shouldn't take focus away from whatever it is you are showing off - unless it is the logo itself.
Hey, it's not rocket science! Congrats, you now (hopefully) have a nicely designed game logo that you can be proud of! If not, well, you could always hire someone :)
Maybe it actually is rocket science...
Join our discord, share your work, get feedback and talk about games. We'd love to see you there! You can find out more about our game project over at anananasstudio.se and sign up for our newsletter.
If you have any questions for me, helpful tips or perhaps examples of nice game logos, please share them in the comments.
Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, by Debbie Millman
Logo Design Love, by David Airey ← A lot of useful info on his website
Thinking With Type, by Ellen Lupton
Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers
Picture This: How Pictures Work, by Molly Bang
The Vignelli Canon (free PDF-file), by Massimo Vignelli
How to make a Steam page (free course), by Chris Zukowski ← Check out his blog as well!
Marks of Excellence, by Per Mollerup
Thoughts on Design, by Paul Rand
Color Palette by "TheArtisan"